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Topic: California (Read 85997 times)
Cong. Tom McClintock's ballot recommendations
Reply #450 on:
October 02, 2014, 04:58:43 PM »
As a state legislator, TMcC had my respect for the right values and clear headed analysis. I am glad that even though he is now a Congressman, he continues to put out his CA ballot recommendations.
McClintock November Ballot Recommendations
Prop 1 – Water Bond: YES. This is a long way from a perfect measure, but it’s as good as it gets in California these days: a $7.5 billion water bond that spends $2.7 billion for new water storage. If that sounds breathtakingly underwhelming, remember that’s $2.7 billion more than the multi-billions of dollars of water bonds that we’ve spent in recent years. Sadly, it doesn’t overhaul the environmental laws that vastly inflate costs and it squanders a great deal more that won’t be used for storage, but it is a step away from the lunacy of the green left (that adamantly opposes it) and this alone merits support.
Prop 2 - Stop Us Before We Screw Up Again: YES. This repeals Prop 58, a vat of Schwarzenegger snake-oil sold to voters as the panacea to the state’s budget woes. It wasn’t. (My I-told-you-so moment). Prop 58 promised an iron-clad reserve, but in reality, the governor could suspend it any time he wanted. He did. (Oops, I did it again). What I like most about Prop 2 is that to raid the required budget reserve, both the governor AND the legislature must agree and then, only for a specifically declared emergency. In a nutshell, it requires the legislature and governor to do what they did voluntarily during the Deukmejian era. Still plenty of loopholes, but better than what we have today.
Prop 45 – If You Thought Obamacare Was Bad: NO. This is a trial lawyers measure that give the state insurance commissioner the power to set health care rates. Sound good? Doctors and other health care providers are already opting out of Obamacare because of artificially low rates; this compounds the problem for California. The good news it you’ll have cheap health insurance. The bad news is you won’t have a lot of providers accepting it.
Prop 46 – If You Thought Prop 45 Was Bad: NO. Another trial lawyers measure that quadruples the amount they can get for pain and suffering awards. Prop. 45 means lower provider reimbursements and Prop. 46 means higher provider costs. It also requires drug testing for doctors, which is a stupid idea but I appreciate the poetic justice in making THEM pee into little cups for a change. Anyway, it won’t matter because your doctor will be out of state.
Prop 47 – Rose Bird’s Revenge: NO. We’ve gone overboard on some drug-related offenses, but this Proposition can only be described as a drug-induced hallucination. It reduces many grand-theft crimes to misdemeanors and would release an estimated 10,000 incarcerated criminals back on the streets. Basically, it is a burglar’s get-out-of-jail free card. Good news for alarm companies and the handful of 60’s radicals nostalgic for Rose Bird – bad news for the rest of us. Hide the silver.
Prop 48 – Freedom Works: YES. This ratifies Indian Gaming compacts for two tribes in economically depressed regions of the state that will be an economic boon to the struggling local communities there. It also cuts through environmental red tape that would otherwise delay these projects for years.
28% of Covered CA hospitals had worse than expected infection rates
Reply #451 on:
October 23, 2014, 10:46:01 PM »
How Many are Covered California Hospitals? 28% of Calif. Hospitals Had Worse-Than-Expected Infection Rates
October 22, 2014 By Stephen Frank
More than one out of four hospitals in California have worse than expected infection rates—and government has demanded You be a victim. Connect the dots: Under Covered California you are only allowed to use doctors in a network and hospitals in the network. Neither doctors nor hospitals are chosen on the basis of quality—they are chosen on the basis of cost. The State of California forces you to use the low cost doctor and hospitals that have lots of infections. Feel safe now getting your government approved health care?
“KHN found that 695 U.S. hospitals had reported rates that were higher than expected for one or more of the six infections. Further, researchers found that 25% or more of hospitals had worse-than-expected infection rates in 13 states and Washington, D.C. California was one of the 13 states, with 28% of hospitals reporting at least one worse-than-expected infection rate.
If you are harmed or die, you or your family will not be allowed to sue Covered California for their lack of vetting hospitals for quality or safety. Once again, government is the problem not the solution.
28% of Calif. Hospitals Had Worse-Than-Expected Infection Rates
California Healthline, 10/22/14
California is one of 13 states and Washington D.C. where more than 25% of hospitals had higher-than-expected infection rates for at least one of six infections, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis of available CDC data, Kaiser Health News reports.
About one in 25 hospital patients in the U.S. have a health care-associated infection on any given day, and 75,000 U.S. residents die from hospital-related infections annually, according to KHN. The federal government since 2012 has been publishing hospital-related infection rate analyses on Medicare’s Hospital Compare website. In addition, Medicare in the fall will begin factoring hospital-related infection rates into reimbursement payments(Rau, Kaiser Health News, 10/21).
For the analysis, KHN analyzed CDC data from reports submitted by more than 3,000 hospitals on:
• Catheter-associated urinary tract infections;
• Central line-associated blood stream infections;
• Infections from the antibiotic-resistant germ Clostridium difficile, or C. diff;
• Infections from the antibiotic-resistant Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.
• Surgical site infections from abdominal hysterectomies; and
• Surgical site infections from colon surgery.
The hospitals were rated as having infection rates that were better, as expected or worse based on the hospital type and patient mix. The MRSA and C. diff infections were contracted between Jan. 1, 2013, and Sept. 30, 2013, while the other infections were contracted between Oct. 1, 2012, and Sept. 30, 2013 (KHN analysis, 10/21).
KHN found that 695 U.S. hospitals had reported rates that were higher than expected for one or more of the six infections. Further, researchers found that 25% or more of hospitals had worse-than-expected infection rates in 13 states and Washington, D.C. California was one of the 13 states, with 28% of hospitals reporting at least one worse-than-expected infection rate.
In addition, KHN found that seven hospitals were determined by CDC to have worse-than-expected infection rates in four of the six categories, including the highly regarded:
• New York-Presbyterian Hospital;
• Pennsylvania-based Geisinger Medical Center; and
• University of Michigan Health System.
Meanwhile, the analysis found that some major teaching hospitals generally had lower-than-expected infection rates, including:
• Denver Health Medical Center;
• Duke University Hospital; and
• Mayo Clinic’s hospitals.
Some of the hospitals contested CDC’s data. Some hospitals said their infection rates appeared higher because they worked harder to identify and report the infections or as the result of the hospitals admitting more patients who were prone to contracting infections.
Patient safety expert Kevin Kavanagh said the hospital-related infection rates were the result of many hospitals not strictly following infection disease treatment protocols and a lack of specificity in the government’s protocols. He added, “Right now there are too many recommendations on how to handle infectious diseases” and there is “too much leeway” on adhering to the recommendations.
Don Goldmann — chief medical and science officer at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and co-author of a 2011 New England Journal of Medicine study on hospital-related infections — said, “The percentage of time that health care providers do all of the things they are supposed to do when caring for a patient with a contagious disease can be pretty low.”
Goldman added that many hospitals are more likely to follow protocols when addressing rarer ailments such as Ebola, but that “[w]hen [an infection risk has] been around for a long time, it kind of becomes part of the background” (Kaiser Health News, 10/21).
California Pensions greater than for the President
Reply #452 on:
October 31, 2014, 10:58:01 AM »
POTH: Gov. Brown's surprising appointments to State Supreme Court
Reply #453 on:
December 26, 2014, 07:32:19 AM »
OAKLAND, Calif. — When Jerry Brown first served as governor of California, he set out to reshape the powerful California Supreme Court by appointing its first female chief justice. But his pick, Rose Bird, had never served as a judge before and came to be perceived as a liberal ideologue.
Ms. Bird, along with two other judges Mr. Brown named to the court, was recalled by voters in an election in 1986.
Nearly 40 years after he made that selection, Mr. Brown is again seeking to remake a court that to this day is viewed by legal scholars as among the most influential in the nation, with one study proclaiming it the state court most followed by other appellate judges. And once more, the ever-unconventional Mr. Brown is roiling the waters with a series of head-snapping, if decidedly more applauded, choices for this tribunal.
“I’ve had 37 or 38 years to reflect on the law and what’s needed,” Mr. Brown said in a freewheeling interview conducted in his hideaway, a barely marked office in downtown Oakland, where he formerly was mayor. “The world is very different. Obviously I know more about how the court works and what the reactions are of people to the court. Hopefully I don’t repeat history.”
Of the three people Mr. Brown has nominated to the seven-member Supreme Court — the latest confirmed on Monday — not one had a day of judicial experience: Two are law professors and the third is an associate attorney general in the Justice Department.
They are all graduates of the same law school — Yale — which also counts among its alumni a California lawyer who made a career in politics, Mr. Brown.
Mr. Brown’s most recent choice, Leondra R. Kruger, the associate attorney general, lives in Washington and has never practiced law in California. “That was kind of a mindblower,” said David S. Ettinger, a lawyer who writes a blog tracking the California Supreme Court.
Her nomination followed Mr. Brown’s selection of Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, a law professor at Stanford who also spent much of his career in Washington, serving in the Obama and Clinton administrations. Mr. Brown began this process in 2011 when he nominated Goodwin Liu, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, three days after a Republican filibuster forced President Obama to withdraw Mr. Liu’s nomination for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
All three of the nominees are under 45, young enough to be handing down rulings long after Mr. Brown, who is 76 and about to be sworn in for his fourth and final term, is gone. Ms. Kruger, who was confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments on Monday, is, at 38, the youngest member of the court in nearly a century. Under California law, the governor nominates justices, and, assuming they are approved by the commission, they appear on the ballot every 12 years for an up-or-down vote.
Mr. Brown’s latest selections have also brought a new measure of diversity to the court. Mr. Liu is the child of Taiwanese parents, Ms. Kruger is the first African-American to serve on the court since 2005, and Mr. Cuéllar was born in Mexico.
Continue reading the main story
As Mr. Brown moves into what is likely the final chapter of a 45-year career in public life, the California Supreme Court, where he served as a clerk as a young man, is providing him one more way to put a lasting stamp on his state. And not incidentally, it is providing him an opportunity for a bit of a do-over after the troubled appointment of Ms. Bird, who became not only the first woman to serve as the court’s chief justice, but also, in 1986, the first chief justice to be ousted by voters.
Mr. Brown’s selections were the product of a long search that included consultations with two members of the United States Supreme Court — he would not say which ones — and come at a time when some scholars said the California court, while still widely admired, has lost some of the intellectual luster it once had. He said his nominees were modeled after Yale law professors.
“I was looking for people who you could say were ‘learned in the law’ — a phrase you might not hear too much anymore,” Mr. Brown said. “I put the word out: Are there people who are scholars or of unusual ability?”
Mr. Brown’s choices have caught the eye of other judges and legal scholars, reflecting the regard of a court that, among other things, was first state high court to strike down a law banning interracial marriage, has held that mental health professionals sometimes have a duty to warn people about dangerous patients, and found a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry in California.
“He is appointing superbly qualified people,” said Margaret H. Marshall, a former chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. “There is always a tension between appointing people who have already been judges and appointing people who have not previously been judges, but I think that’s an interesting balance for any court to have.”
Joseph R. Grodin, who was appointed to the court by Mr. Brown in 1982 and swept out in the Bird recall, said the appointments could very well alter the court. “Governor Brown is interested in very high quality, and I think he’s achieved that,” he said. “I have very high expectations and some degree of excitement over where the California Supreme Court may be headed.”
At the same time, Mr. Brown’s selections have ruffled some feathers in a state with an abundance of lawyers, law schools, and sitting judges looking to move up the ladder.
“This has been pointed out to me by a number of African-American lawyers, law school professors and judges in recent days, all of whom wonder why the governor had to go all the way to the East Coast to find a justice,” Willie Brown, a Democrat and former speaker for the State Assembly, wrote in a column for The San Francisco Chronicle. “Were there no qualified African-Americans in California?”
Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the School of Law at the University of California, Irvine, called Ms. Kruger “a very unconventional choice — she’s never practiced in California. She’s a Washington lawyer. So why didn’t he pick someone from California?”
Still, he added, he was impressed with Mr. Brown’s ambitions. “The three nominees share certain characteristics: They are quite young, they have impeccable qualifications, and they are by all accounts brilliant,” he said.
Legal scholars said that aside from Mr. Brown’s effort to inject more intellectual heft to the court, they expected that these appointments would move the court to the left. All of Mr. Brown’s original choices from his first two terms were replaced with judges chosen by a conservative Republican governor, George Deukmejian. Mr. Brown has now replaced all of them with his own appointees.
Of the seven members now on the court, four were chosen by Republican governors, and three by Mr. Brown.
As for the Yale connection, the governor said that he would certainly consider graduates of other law schools for future nominations. But he added, “Yale is pretty good — it’s a small school, so it’s very selective.”
The court has long been known as influential. A study published in 2007 by the University of California, Davis, Law Review said that California Supreme Court was the most influential in the nation, based on the number of times that the court’s findings were cited by other courts going back for 65 years.
“Judges are inherently conservative, and one of the most frequent things we do is look to precedent: How do other courts talk about the issues?” Ms. Marshall said. "California is certainly one of the places to which I looked when I was at the court.”
Mr. Ettinger said that with these appointments, “the court is well poised to really make a mark.”
“And I think that is what Governor Brown is looking for: leaving a legacy that will restore the luster of the Supreme Court he knew when he clerked for the court.”
Average compensation for municipal employees in CA is $120K per year
Reply #454 on:
January 02, 2015, 07:23:52 AM »
CA death panels
Reply #455 on:
January 07, 2015, 09:51:28 AM »
Cold weather in SoCal!!!
Reply #456 on:
January 11, 2015, 03:59:09 AM »
Reply #457 on:
January 12, 2015, 05:19:17 PM »
Be sure to check Steve Frank's California News & Views throughout the day for breaking news and commentary!
Please follow on Twitter @capoliticalnews
Please forward to your friends: FORWARD
Can An Independent Win Boxer’s Seat? Yes, But Republican or Democrat Won’t
By Stephen Frank on Jan 11, 2015 06:02 pm
Thanks to Prop. 14, neither the Republican, nor Democrat party, or any Third Party be allowed to nominate a candidate to replace Barbara Boxer in the U.S. Senate. Under the terms of Prop.14, ALL candidates are Independent, though they are allowed to express a “preference” for a political party, which does not mean they are […]
Read More and Comment: Can An Independent Win Boxer’s Seat? Yes, But Republican or Democrat Won’t
Rider: In California ALL Your Insurance Policies Premiums are Taxed—Did You Know?
By Stephen Frank on Jan 11, 2015 05:59 pm
There are so many taxes, direct and indirect, that it is impossible to keep up with them. Years ago an economist found that more than 50% of the cost of a loaf of bread was taxes. Now, even I am shocked. Did you know that you pay tax on your premium when you buy insurance […]
Read More and Comment: Rider: In California ALL Your Insurance Policies Premiums are Taxed—Did You Know?
Employment Is Up. Paychecks, Not So Much
By Stephen Frank on Jan 11, 2015 05:56 pm
The legacy media and the Democrats are crowing about the jobs number—it is now “down to 5.6%. What they are not telling is that 70% or more of the jobs created under Obama are part time/low pay jobs. And, it can be proved that they are not full time jobs—as the unemployment rate goes down […]
Read More and Comment: Employment Is Up. Paychecks, Not So Much
California Environmental Protection Act Does NOT Cover Local Stores Dispensing Marijuana
By Stephen Frank on Jan 11, 2015 05:52 pm
When the Left doesn’t like something they try every possible technicality to kill a project, either through use of regulations or lawsuits. In both cases they want to make sure they financially break those they do not like. Years ago, Californians voted for medicinal marijuana. I voted against it, but it is the law. Now […]
Read More and Comment: California Environmental Protection Act Does NOT Cover Local Stores Dispensing Marijuana
As Expected: Brown Spends NO $$ From $7.5 Billion Water Bond on Dams
By Stephen Frank on Jan 11, 2015 05:49 pm
Brown lied and California jobs and farms died. The California Political News and Views told its’ readers during the recent election campaign that our confused Guv Brown was LYING about using part of the $7.5 billion water bond would be used for water storage. We said the money was really a payoff for special interests […]
Read More and Comment: As Expected: Brown Spends NO $$ From $7.5 Billion Water Bond on Dams
Government Take Over of Utilities Begin—Putin/Castro laughing
By Stephen Frank on Jan 11, 2015 05:42 pm
Who says California not a Socialist State, as much as Cuba or Russia? Putin and Castro have to be laughing at us. Thanks to government regulations, several cities are going to force PG&E to sell it poles and equipment to a government agency—at a price the agency is willing to pay. If they cannot agree, […]
Read More and Comment: Government Take Over of Utilities Begin—Putin/Castro laughing
Farmworkers and the New Civil Rights Struggle – Decertification of Bad Unions
By Stephen Frank on Jan 11, 2015 05:39 pm
Unions have become the enemy of workers, black, white, Hispanic and Asian. Hispanic workers in the Central Valley are being harassed for money by a union that has not spoken with them for twenty tears—and they want back “dues” (bribes is the correct term). An election was held, to see if the workers wanted the […]
Read More and Comment: Farmworkers and the New Civil Rights Struggle – Decertification of Bad Unions
States Urge SCOTUS to Strike Down S.F. Gun Law
By Stephen Frank on Jan 11, 2015 05:37 pm
Over the past few days, four people were killed in the Bay Area. Yet, they are proud of laws that allow criminals (by definition criminals do not abide by laws) to have guns and make honest citizens defenseless. In this case San Fran wants those that invade homes to be safe from homeowners that have […]
Read More and Comment: States Urge SCOTUS to Strike Down S.F. Gun Law
Illegal Alien Activists in California One Step Away from French Newspaper Terrorists
By Stephen Frank on Jan 11, 2015 05:33 pm
In Paris, terrorists shot up a magazine because they did not like a cartoon. In Santa Barbara, terrorists have begun the process of destroying a newspaper—for the crime of using proper language in a headline. They do not like “illegal aliens” (people that come into this nation, knowingly) being called illegal aliens. They are NOT […]
Read More and Comment: Illegal Alien Activists in California One Step Away from French Newspaper Terrorists
NSF Funds $18,952 Dissertation on Mating Habits of Syrian Hamsters
By Stephen Frank on Jan 11, 2015 05:30 pm
Did you know that there are Syrian hamsters? I wonder if there are Turkish hamsters, Israeli or Chinese hamsters? I did not know and really do not care. But Obama and the Federal government do care. While Obama allows the Syrian government to kill hundreds of thousands of Syrians, while Syria is the home base […]
Read More and Comment: NSF Funds $18,952 Dissertation on Mating Habits of Syrian Hamsters
In Case You Missed It:
California flush with cash—and massive debts and liabilities not spoken about
2016 California Senate Race MIGHT NOT Have GOP on November Ballot
California Medi-Cal Doctors Reimbursement CUT 60%–How Many Will Continue Losing Money
Union Leader: Beating Up Recalcitrant Union Members Part of Job
Brown: No State Funding Increase If UC Raises Tuition
And so it goes , , ,
Reply #458 on:
January 17, 2015, 04:58:16 PM »
Reply #459 on:
January 19, 2015, 10:58:43 AM »
WSJ: Calpers gets schooled
Reply #460 on:
February 09, 2015, 03:11:00 PM »
Calpers Gets Schooled
A judge says public pensions can be impaired as part of bankruptcy.
Feb. 8, 2015 6:43 p.m. ET
Federal judges tend to be impatient with bullies. Behold judge Christopher Klein ’s opinion last week confirming the city of Stockton’s bankruptcy exit plan, which is as incisive in its rebuke of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (Calpers) as it is instructive about U.S. bankruptcy law.
Stockton, California's City Hall ENLARGE
Stockton, California's City Hall Photo: Reuters
Stockton declared Chapter 9 bankruptcy in 2012, and it has since rewritten labor contracts and asked creditors for writedowns. Yet after being browbeaten by Calpers, the giant public-pension fund, the city held pensions harmless. Calpers argued that the California constitution’s guarantee of contracts shielded pensions from cuts in bankruptcy. The fund also asserted sovereign immunity and police powers as an “arm of the state,” including a lien on municipal assets.
Judge Klein upheld Stockton’s bankruptcy plan but not before effectively throwing Calpers out of court. “It is doubtful that CalPERS even has standing,” he writes. “It does not bear financial risk from reductions by the City in its funding payments because state law requires CalPERS to pass along the reductions to pensioners in the form of reduced pensions.”
As the judge explains, “CalPERS has bullied its way about in this case with an iron fist.” Calpers’s arguments are “constitutionally infirm in the face of the exclusive power of Congress to enact uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcy under Article I, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution—the essence of which laws is the impairment of contracts—and of the Supremacy Clause.”
The Supremacy Clause holds federal law superior to state statutes as long as the feds don’t violate state powers under the Constitution. The judge notes that states act merely as “gatekeepers” to Chapter 9 bankruptcy. Once states authorize municipalities to file for bankruptcy, they hand over custody to federal courts. Thus, as “a matter of law, the City’s pension administration contract with CalPERS, as well as the City-sponsored pensions themselves, may be adjusted as part of a chapter 9 plan.”
What all this means is that Calpers can’t stop cities from modifying pensions in bankruptcy. This has ramifications across the U.S. because unions are trying to make public pension benefits inviolable as a matter of constitutional law. If that view prevails, then politicians can make irresponsible deals to get elected that no future politicians can rescind even if they become unaffordable. Illinois is currently ground zero in this showdown.
Judge Klein also noted that California’s Supreme Court has recognized an “unusually inflexible ‘vested right’ in public employee pension benefits” that stands in contrast to the U.S. Supreme Court’s “less rigid view of the extent of a ‘vested right’ in retiree benefits,” as delivered in last month’s M&G Polymers v. Tackett ruling. Judge Klein adds that California courts’ interpretation of vested rights “encourages dysfunctional strategies to circumvent limitation and peculiarities in California public finance.”
You can say that again. The judge seems to be inviting a legal challenge to California’s vested-rights doctrine, and someone should take him up on it. Meantime, Calpers would do better by raising its investment returns rather than going to court to raid taxpayers.
Popular on WSJ
California: Several items of interest
Reply #461 on:
February 16, 2015, 05:42:38 PM »
Gun Rights Groups await Microstamping Decision
Reply #462 on:
February 18, 2015, 10:53:38 AM »
Reply #463 on:
February 21, 2015, 10:23:52 AM »
One-Third of Californians Provided FREE Health Care—How Long Can We Afford This?
February 20, 2015 By Stephen Frank Leave a Comment
If Obama has his way, his amnesty would add one million illegal aliens to the role of Medi-Cal in California. In the past 120 days, Covered California has brought 750,000 people “free health care cards”. It should be noted that these folks have No doctors or hospitals that were created to treat them—they got cards, nothing else.
Can the people of California afford the new freebies? Who pays? How many will die for lack of health care—and then the families sue for fraud? California is digging its Depression deeper in the economic landfill.
““It’s been relieving to have Medi-Cal and know that if something happened — I needed an ambulance or there was an emergency — I wouldn’t have to worry about being in debt thousands of dollars,” she said.
Hopkins says before she would not have gone to the doctor. “It’s nice to have this option, although it’s been taking a long time to be able to get an appointment.”
Hopkins says she had to wait five weeks for her first doctor’s visit.”
Wait till next year when many fewer doctors will participate, while millions more are card holders.
More Pressure on Providers in Face of Medi-Cal Expansion
Medi-Cal — the public health insurance program for low-income Californians — is growing faster under federal health care reform than the state expected. Twelve million residents — nearly a third of the state’s population — now rely on Medi-Cal, and that’s increased pressure to find more doctors willing and able to treat patients for what has historically been low reimbursement rates.
At the LifeLong Clinic in West Berkeley most of the patients waiting to see a doctor are on Medi-Cal. Among them, 26-year-old Amanda Hopkins, says she enrolled half a year ago when the state expanded the benefits program.
“It’s been relieving to have Medi-Cal and know that if something happened — I needed an ambulance or there was an emergency — I wouldn’t have to worry about being in debt thousands of dollars,” she said.
Hopkins says before she would not have gone to the doctor. “It’s nice to have this option, although it’s been taking a long time to be able to get an appointment.”
Hopkins says she had to wait five weeks for her first doctor’s visit.
Clinic medical director Dr. Davi Pakter says the long wait is one side effect of adding nearly three million people to Medi-Cal since January, 2014. At his clinic, the patients with the greatest need are seen first.
“We try very hard to arrange our schedules so that we can accommodate folks that are in urgent need,” he said, “and try to avoid sending folks to the emergency room — which is a much higher cost and usually not in the best interest of the patient.”
Pakter says that means people who need a check-up or treatment for a less urgent condition can end up waiting one to two months.
A lot of Medi-Cal patients are turning to federally subsidized clinics like LifeLong because private practice doctors won’t accept Medi-Cal insurance.
“They’re not able to afford it,” says Dr. Del Morris, the president of the California Academy of Family Physicians. Morris says the state’s notoriously low reimbursement rate — one of the lowest in the nation — won’t cover the cost of caring for Medi-Cal patients.
“These patients, because of their social circumstance have a higher acuity level than an average patient of the same age,” he says. “These are complicated patients with complex problems and take up a lot of a physician’s time. To be taking on patients like this and lose money in the process is just not something most private practices are willing to do.”
Morris who’s also the medical director of the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency — says Medi-Cal patients are often forced to get care at emergency rooms.
Morris expects the situation to worsen, unless state lawmakers take action.
A provision of the Affordable Care Act that temporarily boosted Medi-Cal reimbursement rates expired on December 31. Also, state lawmakers passed a ten percent cut to California’s reimbursement rates during the depths of the state’s recession took effect last month for primary care doctors.
State lawmakers Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-La Puente) and Asm. Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) introduced a bill this week that would restore the higher reimbursement rates. But even if it passes, they’ll have to persuade Gov. Jerry Brown to sign it.
H.D. Palmer with the state’s finance department says the governor’s not budgeting for higher provider rates because California faces numerous fiscal uncertainties.
“So we have to be very careful and prudent about adopting any new major spending commitments or dealing with some of the difficult but necessary reductions that had to be made in recent years,” he said.
California’s spending on Medi-Cal will jump by $1.7 billion in a just a few years. Right now and through 2016, the federal government pays 100 percent of the cost of covering people who are eligible under the Medicaid expansion. From 2016 to 2020, the contribution will gradually decline to 90 percent, meaning California must pick up the rest.
California net migration, then and now
Reply #464 on:
March 29, 2015, 12:27:11 PM »
Interesting picture of two different time frames. I would like to see this updated.
This only counts inflows, outflows from states. Midwesterners and northeasterners came to California. Illegals are leaving?
Reply #465 on:
April 01, 2015, 03:54:19 PM »
Cal State derecognizes Christian group for wanting Christian leaders.
Reply #466 on:
April 02, 2015, 06:57:28 AM »
Cal State de-recognizes Christian group for wanting Christian leaders
Peter Hasson Texas Campus Correspondent, Campus Reform, 3/27/15
Cal State, Stanislaus has de-recognized its chapter of Chi Alpha, a Christian student group, because the group wanted its leaders to be Christian.
The school says the leadership restrictions violate a Cal State University system-wide executive order of non-discrimination.
California State University is no longer recognizing the Cal State Stanislaus chapter of Chi Alpha, a Christian student group, because the religious group required its leaders be Christian.
The system decided this requirement violated a Cal State University system-wide executive order.
“What they cannot be is faith-based where someone has to have a profession of faith to be that leader.”
“What they cannot be is faith-based where someone has to have a profession of faith to be that leader,” Cal State Stanislaus Associate Vice President Tim Lynch explained to CBS Sacramento. “Every club is allowed to establish its own standards for how leaders are selected—as long as it’s non discriminatory.”
Lynch did, however, acknowledge that fraternities and sororities are given a “gender exemption” to the policy.
The Cal State system generated controversy in 2014 when it derecognized the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship group for similar leadership requirements.
In a letter to Suzanne Espinoza, Cal State’s vice president for enrollment and student affairs, the group argued that the discriminatory policy “
urdens Chi Alpha’s sincere religious exercise,
mproperly interferes with the internal affairs of a religious organization, and [v]iolates the law, including the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article I of the California Constitution.”
The letter also urged the university to reinstate its recognition of Chi Alpha.
In a separate press release, Bianca Travis, president of the Chi Alpha Stanislaus chapter, questioned how the Christian group was supposed to function without Christian leaders.
“How can someone lead us if they don’t share our mission?” she asked.
The student group has secured the legal services of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the same law firm that successfully argued Hobby Lobby’s case against the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate before the Supreme Court.
According to a press release from the Becket Fund, “[t]he membership of Chi Alpha’s Stanislaus chapter is open to any student, however it asks that its leaders, who lead worship services and Bible Studies, affirm the group’s Christian beliefs.”
“The price of admission to a state school shouldn’t include denying your faith,” Becket Fund lawyer Adele Keim explained in an interview with Campus Reform.
POTH: The Many Dourghts of CA
Reply #467 on:
April 05, 2015, 05:04:12 AM »
The Many Droughts of California
By JEFF WHEELWRIGHTAPRIL 3, 2015
MORRO BAY, Calif. — CALIFORNIA has only two seasons, rainy and dry. In March, when the rains stop — assuming they have begun — we must forget about precipitation for at least six months. The rainfall determines our mood for the summer and fall. Where I live, on the Central Coast, 17 inches of rain per winter has been the long-term average. Beating that number — we last did it five years ago — feels like winning the lottery. Lately, the average has been well under 10.
The difference between a good rain year in California and a bad one depends on the number of storms blowing in from the Pacific. One or two storms a winter is bad; four to six, good. Even in wet, happy years, when we shrug off floods and mudslides, rain is intermittent. Storms soak the valleys and snow blankets the mountains for a day or two, but then follows a week or two of sun. During the dry times, where we find ourselves now, the long series of sunny days becomes a little scary. As of Wednesday, the water content of the snowpack in the Sierra range was lower than at any time since 1950. Relentless pumping of groundwater is causing farmland to sink in the Central Valley.
As the drought enters its fourth year, the voluntary tightening of water use has failed to meet its goals. So this week Gov. Jerry Brown instituted mandatory restrictions. Cities and towns will have to cut their consumption by 25 percent, compared with 2013.
But the state is so big and diverse that a dozen different droughts are in effect. Northern Californians, blessed with racing rivers, have relatively little to worry about, while around the megalopolis of Los Angeles, the water sources are remote and aqueducts are lifelines. Desert dwellers near Arizona and Nevada hardly perceive drought, while coastal residents like me take false comfort from the ocean and standby desalination plants.
Yet all across the state, skirmishes over a shrinking resource are taking place. Having watched my neighbor wash his truck when he’s not supposed to, now I’ll be justified in turning him in. More of us will report violators to the city authorities — though perhaps without giving our names. If the drought continues, California’s easygoing social compact may crack and wither, too.
Although aqueducts crisscross the state, half of Californians draw water from local reservoirs and groundwater. Two communities facing each other across Morro Bay — my town and the younger, more ragged community of Los Osos — have adopted different approaches. About 20 years ago, we in Morro Bay paid for a pipeline to tap into what’s called state water. That makes us dependent on someone else’s allocations, but in a drought we are in better shape than Los Osos, which relies solely on groundwater. Under strain from overpumping, Los Osos aquifers are threatened by chemical pollution and saltwater intrusion from the ocean. Morro Bay has municipal wells as backup, and a desalination plant to filter brackish groundwater. We try not to be smug.
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About 30 miles inland, the city of Paso Robles is surrounded by ranches and vineyards. This picturesque, rolling country is a favorite of wine-tasting tourists. Unfortunately, the local reservoirs are below capacity and groundwater pumping has lowered the water table so that ranchers and landowners are finding that their wells are drying up. Vineyard owners, who are relative newcomers, not only take the bulk of the groundwater but also can afford deeper wells, so as to take more. Class warfare is beginning.
Even forming a committee to review the problem has been divisive.
The conflict looming the largest in the state is the one between urban and agricultural interests, but that mother of all battles, upheaving the economy, will not be fought unless the drought lasts several more years. Years ago when water rights in California were assigned, the cities and their industries were not as muscular and thirsty as they are today.
The surface water for the big farms and dairy operations in the Central Valley is first transported from mountain reservoirs to the delta region, where the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers meet the fingers of San Francisco’s East Bay. The delta also provides the water that town and city dwellers drink.
Here is the home of the delta smelt, a 2-inch-long fish that has been caught up in water battles for a generation. By court order, the endangered smelt is entitled to a certain amount of river water, ahead of downstream users. Farmers in the Central Valley have blamed the smelt for cutting their allotments — and that’s during the good years. Residential supplies haven’t been affected by the smelt, so far as we’ve noticed.
Since the drought started, the fish has had fewer and fewer defenders. Recently, it might have done the state a favor by becoming what one biologist termed “functionally extinct,” because of an increasingly saline environment. If society writes off the smelt, who will inherit its portion of the water? Probate for the fish could be rancorous — a dry run, so to speak, for a much greater struggle to come. Perhaps we Californians have taken our bountiful natural resources too much for granted. Let’s hope that nature doesn’t settle the score.
Reply #468 on:
April 05, 2015, 11:43:31 AM »
1) I didn't know he still calls himself a Republican
2) I didn't know anyone still cares what he thinks
3) Is he trying to get back into the political game?
California Docs not digging Medicare or Medicaid
Reply #469 on:
April 06, 2015, 04:51:17 PM »
WSJ: Desalination efforts in CA
Reply #470 on:
May 16, 2015, 01:32:30 AM »
May 15, 2015 6:41 p.m. ET
Israel has made the desert bloom, but the task hasn’t always been an easy one. For decades, the country suffered chronic water shortages brought on by intermittent droughts amid rapid population growth—a problem only partly ameliorated by aggressive water pricing and conservation. In 2009, after five consecutive dry winters, the government water authority restricted outdoor gardening and agricultural irrigation.
By the end of this year, Israel will have completed three massive desalination plants in Ashdod, Hadera and Sorek that combined are capable of producing 100 billion gallons of potable water each year from the sea. More such projects are in the works. Next year desalination will provide about half of Israel’s water—not including the roughly 80% of recycled wastewater that goes mainly to agriculture—up from zero in 2004 and about 10% in 2009. The drought ended in 2012, and Israel doesn’t need to worry much about the next one. In a mere five years, desalination has turned a scarce resource into a commodity that may soon be exportable.
On the far side of the world, in another state often portrayed as a promised land of milk and honey, Californians are suffering perhaps the worst drought in a millennium. Desalination to the rescue? Carlos Riva, the CEO of Boston-based Poseidon Water, hopes so. But the same political and regulatory forces that have already exacerbated the state’s water shortage are standing in the way. Mr. Riva’s diplomatic way of putting it: “Water is a simple molecule, but a complex commodity.”
Most of the bureaucratic effort in California is going into cutting consumption. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has turned off the spigot of water trickling from the Sierra Nevadas to farmers in the Central Valley. Gov. Jerry Brown last month ordered urban water agencies to cut usage by 6% to 36% (based on per capita consumption) and threatened $10,000 fines against noncompliant residents and businesses. All this while the untapped Pacific Ocean glitters nearby.
Desalination technology that is “mainstream outside the U.S.,” Mr. Riva says, is proving exasperatingly difficult to bring to thirsty California.
“The water industry is probably one of the last industries that is still held in traditional municipal hands,” Mr. Riva notes. As a result, the “market is ultraconservative because there’s nobody in the municipalities that has any motivation to take the risk with new technology.”
Poseidon does have a $1 billion desalination plant slated to open this fall in Carlsbad, north of San Diego. Upon completion it will be the largest in North America, capable of producing 54 million gallons of water each day. Construction began in 2013, but first Poseidon spent six years battling 14 environmental lawsuits.
For instance, the Surfrider Foundation charged that the plant’s open-ocean intakes might harm marine life, though a judge ruled that Poseidon had reasonably mitigated the threat. Mr. Riva says the intakes “entrain two to three fish eggs or larvae” for every thousand gallons of water sucked in. “Not to make value judgments about fish, but these aren’t from any protected species,” Mr. Riva says. “They’re anchovies and things like that.” He adds that environmentalists believe that “all fish life is precious, and you have to do everything to save it.”
Obtaining the dozen or so permits required to build the plant was vexing as well, since regulatory authority over water in California is spread among state, federal and local agencies—the Bureau of Reclamation, the State Water Resource Control Board and the California Coastal Commission, to name a few.
“Because there are multiple agencies,” says Mr. Riva, there are “multiple opportunities for intervenors to delay.” The CEO is careful in his choice of words to avoid giving offense. However, what he appears to mean is that environmental obstructionists waged war on numerous fronts. Not totally without success, either: To obtain final approval from the Coastal Commission, Poseidon had to agree to restore 66 acres of wetlands and buy renewable energy credits—green indulgences.
Urged on by the Surfriders, the Coastal Commission is now gumming up Poseidon’s plans to build a second plant, which has been in the planning stages for 15 years, south of Los Angeles in Huntington Beach. Though Poseidon had obtained almost all required government permits by 2012, Mr. Riva says, the commission’s approval is pending the results of an independent panel convened to study alternatives to open intakes that would better protect fish eggs and larvae. Poseidon has proposed adding one-millimeter screens, which seems to be the simplest and most cost-effective strategy.
The panel concluded after its first phase, Mr. Riva says, that the only other option is what’s called a seabed infiltration gallery, built about 1,000 feet offshore. He explains: “You build these copper dams, then excavate the seabed, put in these drains and pipes, and put other filters on top of that, and then pipe the water back to shore.” While technically feasible, it’s a complicated engineering feat, so now the panel is examining the environmental impact and economic practicability.
Building an infiltration gallery, Mr. Riva says, would take five to seven years and cost multiple times the price of the rest of the facility—so he expects the review will show it isn’t doable. But could the commission be using this process to deal the Huntington Beach project death by regulatory review? “If people just don’t want it, put us out of misery,” he quips.
Environmentalists are also howling that desalination is too energy-intensive. Mr. Riva thinks these complaints are bogus: “We use less energy than one of the data centers that are being built, and nobody claims that they are somehow immoral.” Plus, as he points out, the only reason anybody is even discussing desalination in California now is because it is becoming so much more efficient, thanks to technological breakthroughs like energy-recovery systems, which conserve energy the way hybrid cars do. The Carlsbad plant will use less than half as much electricity per unit of water produced as desalination plants did in the 1980s.
Such improvements are fueled by the free market. “The operators are driven to find ways to reduce the energy because that increases the profitability of these projects,” Mr. Riva says, adding that Poseidon has a profit motive to implement more-efficient filters, pumps and control systems that will reduce the cost of water—an incentive the government doesn’t have.
Mr. Riva, who used to run a biofuels company, says he considers himself an environmentalist. “But I think the concept of environmentalism has been hijacked by extreme views,” he says. “We’re bending over backwards to protect the environment here.”
Meantime, local residents and politicians in San Diego and Orange County have voiced ostensibly more justifiable concerns about desalination’s high costs. Poseidon is a closely held private company but specializes in public-private partnerships. As Mr. Riva explains, “our model is to say: We will take on the risk of development, financing, building and operation, and in exchange you take the market risk of buying our water.” This isn’t too different from how public utilities contract for electric generation.
Under the terms of the purchase agreement, the desalinated water will cost San Diegans between $2,014 and $2,257 per acre foot (roughly 0.6 to 0.7 cents per gallon), or about twice as much as importing water from, say, the Sierra Nevadas. “We have a 30-year contract,” Mr. Riva rejoins. “Depending on escalation rates of the imported water and CPI [consumer-price index], then the expectation is that sometime in the middle of the first decade, our water will be less expensive. There will be a crossover point.”
Even so, desalinated water from Carlsbad will cost more than twice as much per unit as it does in Israel. There are multiple reasons for this. Electricity is more expensive in California than in Israel and most of the rest of the U.S. because of a state mandate requiring that pricey renewables make up a third of electric generation by 2020. Labor is more expensive in California, too. Cumbersome regulatory requirements jack up construction costs. Israel’s Sorek plant will produce about three times as much water as the Carlsbad facility yet cost half as much to build. Both plants were designed by the same company: Israel Desalination Enterprises (IDE) Technologies.
Poseidon’s Carlsbad desalination plant will augment the San Diego region’s water supply by about 7% while increasing customers’ bills by $5 to $7 a month. Although residents will have to pay for the additional supply even when they don’t need it, Mr. Riva asserts that the “reliability justifies a premium.” That is, many San Diegans may consider it worth paying a bit more per month to keep their verdant yards during droughts—or have a backup water supply if an earthquake destroys canals or aqueducts that import water from the north.
‘We’re talking about one of the only things that is really necessary for life. Your kids may think their phone is, but it’s not,” he says. “This is an absolute necessity in San Diego, which is a desert for life.”
The same is true of California as a whole. More than a dozen desalination projects have been proposed along the coast, but prospective developers are waiting for Poseidon to run the regulatory gantlet before moving ahead. Meanwhile, Mr. Riva says Poseidon is considering developing projects in Texas where water is also scarce—and, one presumes, where the governmental burden is lighter and environmentalists are fewer. If Poseidon can make desalination work in California, it can work anywhere.
Ms. Finley is an editorial writer for the Journal.
Reply #471 on:
May 21, 2015, 11:06:24 PM »
Not always precise in its coverage, but it does look into the right places:
gov Brown looking to merge health care with Oregon?
Reply #472 on:
May 27, 2015, 09:43:10 AM »
Re: gov Brown looking to merge health care with Oregon?
Reply #473 on:
May 27, 2015, 10:54:26 AM »
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on May 27, 2015, 09:43:10 AM
Should Calif bailing out Oregon be in the humor thread, or obituaries/RIP?
What does it take for people to recognize failure and quit supporting it?
Husband and Wife no more
Reply #474 on:
May 29, 2015, 10:07:26 PM »
WSJ: California's tax revenue gusher
Reply #475 on:
June 02, 2015, 02:09:59 PM »
California Party Time
Sacramento spends its tax revenue gusher like there’s no tomorrow.
California Gov. Jerry Brown ENLARGE
California Gov. Jerry Brown Photo: Associated Press
May 31, 2015 5:57 p.m. ET
These are hard times for the blue-state governing model of high taxes and public unions—see Illinois, Connecticut and Maryland. But our friends on the left ignore these states and tout California as their real model, as Sacramento celebrates record tax revenue. So it’s worth noting that the Golden State may be repeating the fiscal mistakes it made before its last economic bust.
There’s no doubt the state government is on a high, with Governor Jerry Brown forecasting $6.7 billion in additional revenue beyond his January projections due to growth in capital gains and incomes among high earners. Over four years general fund revenues have risen by 40% to $117.3 billion as income-tax collections surged 55%.
This follows what has turned out to be one of the most fortuitously timed tax increases in history. Mr. Brown’s 2012 ballot measure retroactively raised taxes on individuals earning more than $250,000 and increased the top rate to 13.3% from 10.3% for those making more than $1 million. The measure passed amid the Internet boom and stock market rise.
No one wants to mention, however, that the tax hike doubled down on the state’s top-heavy tax structure that produces huge revenue swings. The top 1% of taxpayers—those earning more than $525,000—paid over 50% of all California income taxes in 2012 while the bottom four quintiles earning less than $90,000 paid a mere 10%. The Golden State has lost middle-income jobs in manufacturing to other lower-taxing Western states, but it has assets like Silicon Valley that other blue states don’t.
The resulting revenue boom has politicians partying like it’s 1999, the height of the dot-com bubble. The boom has been especially sweet for teachers unions because under the state constitution schools are entitled to most of the haul. Over the past four years state spending on K-12 and community colleges has grown by 45% to $68 billion this year.
But now other liberal interest groups want to join the party. So Mr. Brown is proposing to extend Medicaid to illegal immigrants granted permanent residency by President Obama. California’s Medicaid expansion under ObamaCare has already added four million beneficiaries at a cost of $17 billion. National taxpayers are picking up $15.5 billion of the tab for now, but California’s share will grow after 2016.
Mr. Brown also wants to create another entitlement by inaugurating a state version of the earned-income tax credit for two million low-income Californians. That comes on top of next year’s increase in the minimum wage to $10 an hour, and $15 an hour by 2020 in Los Angeles.
Yet despite the government’s efforts to help the poor, California has the nation’s highest poverty rate at 23.4%. And nowhere in the U.S. save perhaps New York City is income inequality greater than San Francisco, which has been a hothouse for progressive policies such as a $15 minimum wage and mandated paid sick leave. All that income redistribution doesn’t seem to be the secret to equality.
Meantime, projected revenues from California’s cap-and-trade auctions have swelled by 150% in the last year to $2.2 billion. Mr. Brown wants to spend $400 million of that windfall on affordable housing; $350 million on low-carbon transportation (i.e., electric car subsidies that go mainly to the well off); $365 million on public transit and intercity rail; and $500 million on the L.A. to San Francisco bullet train that is already short of funding.
The danger is that this gusher of new spending will set up the state for another budget bust. Last November voters did approve a ballot referendum aimed at imposing some spending discipline, strengthening the porous rainy day fund. Under the new law’s formula, the state must spend $1.9 billion this year to pay down “debts and liabilities.”
But Mr. Brown has construed it broadly to include payments to schools and special funds that politicians had previously raided. He’d also create a new liability by proposing to seize $96 million from the rainy day fund to shore up University of California pensions. Yet Mr. Brown’s budget doesn’t even begin paying down the $191 billion unfunded liability for state worker and teacher retirement benefits.
At the end of 2015 the rainy day fund will have a meager $3.5 billion, and the Governor cautions that the “budget remains precariously balanced and faces the prospect of deficits in succeeding years.” Last year the state Legislative Analyst’s Office warned that a modest dip in income growth could trigger multibillion-dollar deficits due to built-in spending increases, particularly in education.
The paradox of Jerry Brown has always been that he’s smart enough to recognize the severity of the state’s fiscal problems, yet he can’t seem to restrain his prodigal legislature or even help himself. The revenue boom is making California’s economy and budget look better than they are. The reckoning will arrive when the next economic downturn does.
Yellowstone Volcano about to erupt?
Reply #476 on:
June 26, 2015, 10:43:04 PM »
Re: Yellowstone Volcano about to erupt?
Reply #477 on:
June 26, 2015, 11:19:30 PM »
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on June 26, 2015, 10:43:04 PM
No. Next question.
Reply #478 on:
July 02, 2015, 04:16:59 PM »
It Takes a True Detective to Understand California’s High-Speed Rail Plans
Enjoy the Independence Day weekend, folks! NR offices are closed Friday, so this is the last Jolt of the week.
The best part of the new season of True Detective on HBO is that one of the major plot points is sleazy, mob-connected businessmen talking about federal funding for California’s high-speed rail project as a giant way to line their pockets.
Vince Vaughn plays a ruthless, ambitious mob-connected businessman who yearns to be a legitimate, respected mogul. In the opening episode, he’s at a giant party-unveiling for the project. One of his partners, a corrupt official in the fictional city of Vinci, California, just outside Los Angeles, hasn’t arrived on the meeting -- on account of his recent murder -- and Vaughn’s character sums up the pending deal for the guests:
Our city manager Ben Caspere was going to be here to explain this, but I suppose I can approximate the information.
So everybody knows Proposition 1 has passed.
And next year construction will start on a $68 billion high-speed rail up Central California.
An undeveloped valley adjacent to the rail and the coastal highway has been purchased by several holding companies anticipating a commercial development that will be in line for hundreds of millions in federal grants.
And the feds have guaranteed cost overages.
Have we seen ever seen a movie or television show bad guy whose plans involve a high-speed rail project before? Can you believe that HBO is portraying Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature legacy project in such a negative light?
Later, in a meeting with a more menacing, Eastern European gangster, Vaughn’s character declares,
[The city of] Vinci tapped fed money from the subway line, and the same thing will happen on a much, much bigger scale with the rail corridor. Owned by our holding companies.
In real life, the first segment of the initial rail line, running from Madera to Bakersfield, will cost $6 billion, consisting of $3.3 billion in federal funding and $2.6 billion in Proposition 1A bond proceeds. The California High-Speed Rail Authority declares, “Development of the [initial operating system] will be funded through government sources, while private-sector capital will fund future construction segments once the system is generating positive cash flow.”
In June 2013, the California High-Speed Rail Authority awarded the first contract -- nearly $1 billion. Construction began in the middle of last month.
Some California Republicans and a few Democrats are attempting to stop the project from going any further, arguing it has changed completely from its initial proposal and there’s no reason to expect anything other than more delays, cost overruns, and legal fights:
State Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, has introduced bipartisan legislation to allow California voters to reconsider the state's controversial high-speed rail project.
Vidak's measure would allow voters to weigh in on whether they want to continue funding the $68 billion project. It would also forbid any more spending on the project until a vote on June 6, 2016. The bill would redirect the unspent money toward road repair and construction.
Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, is co-sponsoring the bill.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority's pursuit of eminent domain land takings on the proposed alignment through Kings County has generated strong opposition and lawsuits from local residents and county government.
The authority is trying to drum up interest from the private sector for the project, but has so far failed to get private investment to help make up a financing shortfall of tens of billions of dollars.
And Republicans in Congress are making an attempt as well:
Republican Rep. Jeff Denham, of Turlock, has tried twice before to defund high-speed rail with an amendment, but he's not giving up.
On Tuesday night Denham spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives and declared, “I'm here one more year offering an amendment to end this incredible waste of taxpayer dollars.”
Denham's amendment forces the California High Speed Rail Authority to prove it can independently match nearly $3 billion in federal funds -- or potentially lose that money.
On Wednesday Denham said he doesn't believe that California can afford it.
“We are $87 billion short,' Denham said. “The governor's not proposing $87 billion. The president's not proposing $87 billion. So, we're really leaving the state of California at risk.”
Records show the project has spent nearly $900 million so far.
The city in the show, Vinci, appears to be inspired by real-life Vernon, California:
Only 92 people live in Vernon. There are no parks, schools, libraries, health clinics or grocery stores. The only four restaurants close by 4 p.m. By sundown the 44,000 workers who commute here have all fled the stench.
Vernon’s leaders like it that way. California’s tiniest city, if you want to call it a city, is one of the nation’s most lasting and efficient political machines, run almost entirely for the benefit of a handful of rarely opposed, extremely well-paid politicians. Vernon should have been subsumed long ago into the surrounding city of L.A, but its independence is a strange and stark example of how a democracy can become a dynasty.
The bespectacled Leonis C. Malburg, 77, whose grandfather founded Vernon in 1905, has been mayor for 33 years. Bruce Malkenhorst, 71, was for 32 years the city administrator as well as clerk, finance director, treasurer, redevelopment agency secretary and chief executive of the utility Vernon Light & Power. The city was reportedly paying him $600,000 a year, more than twice what L.A.’s mayor earns, until he resigned all posts unexpectedly and without public announcement in 2005. By most accounts Malkenhorst still pulls the strings. His appointed successor is his 42-year-old son, Bruce Jr.
Theirs is a benign dictatorship. Who would run against them? Outsiders hoping to move into town are denied housing permits and Vernon’s 32 houses and apartments are owned by the city and leased to its employees for as little as $150 per month.
What’s more, there were no contested elections in Vernon from 1984 to 2006.
On the show, the sleazy mayor of Vinci has a picture of himself with President George W. Bush in the background. In real life Vernon, 69 percent of the city’s voters are registered Democrat, 28 percent Republican. And you probably saw this coming:
A slick two-minute advertisement promoting Vernon as a bastion of blue-collar employment will be shown in theaters in working-class neighborhoods with the opening of a new movie, “Battle: Los Angeles.” The commercial follows a $65,000-a-week television advertising campaign that began last week. The ads were produced by Chris Lehane, a notoriously tough operative who worked as a senior adviser to Al Gore, and who is at the center of this campaign.
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