Posts Tagged ‘waste’

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.
  • 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.
  • 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…
  • Texas vs. California: Cali Goes Batshit Insane Edition

    Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

    California has long had a tenuous grasp of what the rest of us regard as consensus reality. But two new pieces of legislation suggest they’ve gone off the deep end into full Victimhood Identity Politics land:

  • First, they decided that police shootings wouldn’t be subject to the grand jury process, because what’s a little things like two centuries of due process and the fifth amendment to the Constitution when there are policemen to be railroaded to satisfy black protesters?
  • They also decided to purge the words “illegal alien” from state statutes, because what’s mere law when there’s political correctness to be pandered to?
  • Of course, that’s not all that’s new on the Texas vs. California front:

  • “California taxpayers paid out big bucks to state workers in 2014. How much? More than the Gross Domestic Product of 100 countries, according to new data published by the State Controller’s office. In 2014, more than 650,000 state employees earned a total of $32 billion in wages and benefits.” It gets better: “Nine hundred sixty-nine state employees earned more than the President of the United States.” Added irony:

    The lowest paid average workers represented agencies focused on the environment, women and people with disabilities. According to the state’s 2014 payroll data, the average salary for the 11 state employees at the California Commission on Disability Access was just $15,213 per year, slightly more than the $14,494 average salary paid to the four employees at the Commission on the Status of Women.

  • There is no California. Only Zuul…
  • Texas unemployment rate: 4.2%. California unemployment rate: 6.2%. (Hat tip: WILLism’s Twitter feed.)
  • Los Angeles’ new minimum wage has wrecked hotel employment. Or maybe just non-illegal alien employment… (Hat tip: Moe Lane.)
  • Why Public Services in California Decline Even As Revenues Rise. “Until California’s leaders address the three elephants – retirement, healthcare and corrections costs — that are crowding out public services and causing unproductive tax and fee increases, citizens will continue to suffer and inequality will continue to grow.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Chuck Devore on what makes Texas friendly to business: less red tape and lower taxes.
  • Voters to San Jose City Council: We want pension reform! San Jose City Council to voters: Get stuffed! (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • TV’s CHiPS never seemed to be involved in ethics scandals the way the current administration is, including no-bid contracts to European companies. (Bonus: it’s also suitable for Dwight’s Art Acevedo watch.)
  • California’s “Green Jobs Initiative” spent $297 million to create 1,700 jobs.
  • More on the same theme, and Tom Steyer wasting $29.6 million of his own money pushing it, from City Journal.
  • California’s SFX: from billion dollar company to bankruptcy.
  • Ding Dong, the ExIm Bank is Dead!

    Friday, July 3rd, 2015

    One bit of good news this week: The charter for one of crony capitalism’s favorite boondoggles, the Export/Import Bank, expired at Midnight June 30.

    Hopefully it will stay dead after congress returns from recess, despite attempts to revive it.

    If you can’t kill corporate welfare giveaways to Fortune 100 companies, what can you cut?

    Texas vs. California Update for April 24, 2015

    Friday, April 24th, 2015

    Time for another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • The Manhattan Institute has a new report out discussing how California’s pension spending is starting to crowd out essential services. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Austin is the number one city in the country for technology job creation.
  • Texas unemployment is down to 4.2%.
  • That’s the lowest unemployment rate since March of 2007.
  • Marin County Grand Jury:

    Unfunded pension liabilities are a concern for county and city governments throughout California. Reviewing this problem in Marin County, the Grand Jury examined four public employers that participate in the Marin County Employees’ Retirement Association (MCERA): County of Marin, City of San Rafael, Novato Fire Protection District, and the Southern Marin Fire Protection District, hereafter collectively referred to as “Employer(s)”

    The Grand Jury interviewed representatives of the County of Marin, sponsors of MCERA administered retirement plans, representatives of MCERA, and members of the various Employer governing boards and staff. It also consulted with actuaries, various citizen groups, and the Grand Jury’s independent court-appointed lawyers.

    In so doing, the Grand Jury found that those Employers granted no less than thirty-eight pension enhancements from 2001- 2006, each of which appears to have violated disclosure requirements and fiscal responsibility requirements of the California Government Code.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • The Marin Country lawyer: Nothing to see in this Grand Jury Report! Critics: Hey, aren’t you pulling down a cool $434,000 by “triple dipping” the existing system? (Ditto.)
  • Why does the University of California system have to hike tuition 28%? Simple: Pensions.

    As with other areas of state and local budgets, a big factor is pension costs, which for UC have grown from $44 million in 2009-10 to $957 million in 2014-15. And the number of employees making more than $200,000 almost doubled from 2007-13, from 3,018 to 5,933.

    While total UC employees rose 11 percent from October 2007 to October 2014, the group labeled “Senior Management Group and Management and Senior Personnel” jumped 32 percent.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • Los Angeles Teacher’s Union gets a 10% pay hike over two years.
  • Like everything else associated with ObamaCare, covered California is screwed up.
  • BART wants a tax increase. This is my shocked face. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • And by my count, there are 157 BART employees who make more than $200,000 a year in salary and benefits…
  • California state senate committee votes to raise California’s minimum wage to $13 by 2017. If I were Gov. Greg Abbott, I’d be ready to start sending Texas relocation information packets to large California employers the minute this gets signed into law.
  • California-based Frederick’s of Hollywood files for bankruptcy. The retail lingerie business just isn’t what it used to be…
  • Torrence, California newspaper wins Pulitzer Prize for reporting on local school district corruption.
  • Priorities: Carson, California approves $1.7 billion for an NFL stadium even though they don’t have an NFL team to put in it.
  • Dilbert’s Scott Adams weighs in on California’s drought:

  • Texas vs. California Update for April 15, 2015

    Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

    Hope you’ve finished your taxes already! Time for another Texas vs. California update:

  • Detroit and Stockton’s bankruptcies may signal further problems nationwide, says New York Fed President William Dudley. “While these particular bankruptcy filings have captured a considerable amount of attention, and rightly so, they may foreshadow more widespread problems than what might be implied by current bond ratings.”
  • The Texas senate approves a $211.4 billion biannual budget, which will need to be reconciled with the $209.8 billion House budget. Both budgets offer tax relief, but of different kinds.
  • The senate also zero funds two rogue agencies the Texas Racing Commission and the Travis County Public Integrity Unit. Expect Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, with deep ties to the gambling industry, to go to the mat to save the Racing Commission.
  • The Texas senate has also passed signifcant spending limit reform in Senate Bill 9.
  • CalPERS raises contribution rates by 6%.
  • California senate OKs yet another restrictive energy policy bill. Yet another in their continuing “Let’s send as much business to Texas as possible” acts…
  • Los Angeles Unified School District extends lavish employee benefits package another three years, despite existing underfunded liabilities. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California sets aside $261 million for cost overruns on its already pricey high speed rail boondoggle.
  • California’s drought is something environmentalist liberal elites have brought on themselves: “Those who did the most to cancel water projects and divert reservoir water to pursue their reactionary nineteenth-century dreams of a scenic, depopulated, and fish-friendly environment enjoy lifestyles predicated entirely on the fragile early twentieth-century water projects of the sort they now condemn.”
  • More on the same theme.
  • San Diego builds a desalinization plant (Hat tip: Moe Lane.)
  • Central California is already starting to suffer water-related thefts.
  • In the wake of the Vergara ruling, California Republicans want to overhaul how teachers are hired and fired. Naturally teacher’s unions are opposed…
  • Judge rules that California must pay for sex change operations for prisoners on Eight Amendment grounds. “To contend that ‘forcing’ a prisoner to continue as a man violates the Constitution is absurd…It is nonsensical to grant imprisoned convicted felons health-care ‘entitlements’ that many law-abiding, hardworking taxpayers don’t enjoy.”
  • California prostitutes demand prostitution be legalized. You’d think they’d get a sympathetic hearing from California’s Democrat-controlled legislation, what with all they have in common… (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Stanford student council candidate grilled over Colleging While Jewish. This could go in the regular LinkSwarm, but I noticed that both of these recent incidents took place in California.
  • Groundhog Day on the Aegean

    Monday, February 23rd, 2015

    Greece two weeks ago: “We will not negotiate this people’s pride and dignity.”

    Greece today: “Yes, Master! We’d love to grovel some more if you continue tossing pennies into our cup!”

    “As far as we can tell, the Greek government hasn’t achieved even a single one of its aims so far. The bailout was extended by four months, but in spite of a few cosmetic changes to the wording accompanying it (e.g. the ‘troika’ has been renamed ‘the institutions’), it is still precisely the same bailout agreement as before.”

    This is an event completely unforeseen by everyone except anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to previous installments of Greek Bailout Kabuki. For all the bluster, it’s not like Greece had many options other than to get down on all fours and really lick boot, since it was slated to run out of cash tomorrow.

    Naturally anyone who was foolish enough to believe Syriza’s promises (the technical term for such people is “rubes”) is hopping mad. “It’s as if [Greek PM Alexis] Tsipras, [Greek Finance Minister Yanis] Varoufakis and the others are telling me: ‘We believe that you are stupid…and you will believe whatever lie we tell you.'” The fact Syriza was elected at all is pretty much testament to the well-grounded accuracy that belief. That, and, oh, every single piece of news out of Greece since the Euro debt crisis struck, as long as that lie involved Greece continuing to spend money like drunken sailors with a stolen credit card and never having to pay their debts back.

    The open secret, of course, is that Greece will never repay its debt. “We have to be realistic here. Greek debt is now 175 percent of gross domestic product (GDP); it’s higher than it was when this whole business first started.” (Well, by one measure. Another puts Greek debt at 317% of GDP.) Yeah, that’s what happens when you continue to run huge deficits even under your “austerity” budgets.

    As I previously wrote:

    I’m sure Syriza would love to implement their pie-in-the-sky big spending socialism, but their real goal is to lie to the Greek people long enough for the EU to write at least one more check, and lie to the EU about implementing reform long enough to cash it. Since Syriza only recently came to power, they probably want keep the farce rolling long enough to feather their own nests with Euros before engineering a grexit. After all, center-right parties got their turns at the public graft trough; why not the far left?

    And back on December 29 I wrote:

    So we’ll see another election, and if Syriza wins we’ll see another round of demands for more bailouts and debt writedowns, with Greece threatening yet again to exit the Euro. We’ve seen this movie before. The most likely outcome is that another cabal of EU-phillic insiders in the Greek government will engineer a last-minute cave-in to demands from Brussels and Frankfurt, ram another toothless austerity measure through parliament in exchange for still more credit (and perhaps even a small symbolic measure of debt forgiveness), dissolve the government again following the inevitable public outrage, then have the Greek bureaucracy ignore even those woefully inadequate reforms, setting the stage for the farce to repeat itself in another 12-18 months, or until mean old Aunt Angela finally cuts up the credit card.

    Behold The Amazing Person’s uncanny powers of prophecy! Like Groundhog Day, it’s gotten remarkably easy to predict exactly what’s going to happen. Different people may occupy the Prime Minister’s office, but all them invariably wake up to the political equivalent of Sonny & Cher singing “I Got You Babe.”

    It looks like the only I thing I was off on was the piddling four month extension rather than twelve, and the fact that Syriza didn’t even get the tiny fig-leaf of symbolic debt reduction. I guess that request for reparations from Germany rubbed Angela Merkel the wrong way. Too bad Greek PM Alexis Tsipras failed to heed Basil Fawlty’s eminently sensible advice…

    “This is an Ex-EarthQuest!”

    Thursday, January 15th, 2015

    For those not up to speed on the EarthQuest saga, it was an attempt to build an “ecological theme park” northeast of Houston in Montgomery County. The fact that it was going to be built with a large dollop of taxpayer money via a special taxing district only enhanced the stench of Eu de Boondoggle EarthQuest gave off, as grandiose plans gave way to missed construction and funding dates, at least one bankruptcy filing and a complete halt to visible activity. It’s essentially been moribund since 2012.

    Now from dedicated EarthQuest watcher Sopboxmom comes news that the IRS has revoked Institute EarthQuest’s tax-exempt status:

    Exempt Organizations Select Check
    Automatic Revocation of Exemption Information

    The federal tax exemption of this organization was automatically revoked for its failure to file a Form 990-series return or notice for three consecutive years. The information listed below for each organization is historical; it is current as of the organization’s effective date of automatic revocation. The information is not necessarily current as of today’s date. Nor does this automatic revocation necessarily reflect the organization’s tax-exempt or non-exempt status. The organization may have applied to the IRS for recognition of exemption and been recognized by the IRS as tax-exempt after its effective date of automatic revocation. To check whether an organization is currently recognized by the IRS as tax-exempt, call Customer Account Services at (877) 829-5500 (toll-free number).
    Revocation Date (effective date on which organization’s tax exemption was automatically revoked):
    15-May-2014
    Employer Identification Number (EIN):
    26-2454184
    Legal Name:
    INSTITUTE EARTHQUEST
    Doing Business As:
    Mailing Address:
    21575 US HIGHWAY 59 NORTH
    NEW CANEY, TX 77357-8355
    United States
    Exemption Type:
    501(c)(3)
    Revocation Posting Date (date on which IRS posted notice of automatic revocation on IRS.gov):
    15-Oct-2014
    Exemption Reinstatement Date (effective date of tax exemption, determined by the IRS
    after the organization’s exemption was automatically revoked and the organization applied for reinstatement of exemption.):

    Finally, despite their zombie website, EarthQuest has ceased to be, and even nailing it back on the perch wouldn’t help.

    More information here.

    Texas vs. California Update for January 6, 2014

    Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

    Here’s your first Texas vs. California update of 2015:

  • Real personal income increased by 1.4% in Texas in Q3, the most of any state. And that with the oil bust just starting to bite, which I’m guessing helps explain why South Dakota’s personal income decline by .2%. (Well, that and getting six inches of global warming in September….)
  • Texas was the number one magnet state in the country for people moving here yet again.
  • “The real reason for the tuition increase is that the UC system needs funds to bail out the mismanaged pension system that covers retired employees of its ten campuses.”

    This is all the result of the regents’ irresponsible oversight. In 1990, UCRP had 137 percent of the assets it needed to meet its obligations, so regents suspended employer and employee contributions to the pension fund. State legislators also stopped allocating money to UCRP. This “pension contribution holiday” lasted 20 years. To top it off, during this period, university officials boosted pension benefits a half-dozen times. By 2012, more than 2,100 UC retirees were each collecting six-figure pensions for life.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • Former Pasadena (California) employees arrested on 60 count, $6 million embezzling charges. (Hat tip: CalWatchdog.)
  • More on outrageous California pensions: “In 2013, an assistant fire chief in Southern California collected a $983,319 pension. A police captain in Los Angeles received nearly $753,861.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami).
  • California’s doomed high speed rail boondoggle breaks ground today.
  • More on the same theme from Twitter:

  • Opponents of California’s statewide plastic bag ban have gathered 800,000 signature for a referendum to overturn it, which will also keep the law from going into effect on July 1.
  • California charity hospitals to be sold to for-profit company to keep them open.