Monday, October 14, 2013

2003 RECALL ELECTION CANDIDATES REUNION


The 10th Anniversary meeting of the 2003 California Gubernatorial recall candidates at the State Capitol was fun. Some of us met for lunch beforehand at the River City Brewing Company for lunch (Daniel Watts, Jon Zellhoefer, Cheryl Bly-Chester, Darrin Scheidle, and Marc Valdez).

Then we were joined by a few more candidates - Leonard Padilla, Badi Badiozamani and Gerold Gorman - at the Capitol, along with family and friends and people touring the capitol wandering in. Mark had his book available for us and we all signed each other's copies. We also had a screening of Jayson Haedrich's documentary - which I think everyone enjoyed. There were at least a few shots of everyone at our reunion in the film and I was one of the featured candidates. Afterwards, we ate at Bento Box for dinner (Jon Zellhoefer, Cheryl Bly-Chester, Gerold Gorman, Darrin Scheidle, and myself). The conversation was lively and I enjoyed hearing about everyone's intervening 10 years.

Marc Valdez did a great job organizing the event. He will start a webpage ‘The California 135’, at Darrin’s suggestion.

The main take away we had 10-years ago that still holds today was that the Candidates Coalition managed to come together across all party lines to support each other and find common ground to work together. We didn't have to agree on the politics to agree to work together. We all agreed then and now that that particular element of cooperation has been sorely missing in government.

Attached is a reunion photo.
  Standing: Darrin Scheidle, Daniel Watts, Marc Valdez, Cheryl Bly-Chester, Gerrold Gorman. Seated Leonard Pailla, Badi Badiozamani, Jon Zelllhoefer.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Frivolous ADA Lawsuits Cutting into Funds that Could Otherwise Represent New Jobs

California Needs More Jobs, Not More Lawsuits

The First Step is Putting an End to ADA Lawsuit Abuse

It’s no secret that California’s jobs and economic climate is in crisis.

The Sunshine State faces a $15 billion budget deficit — and the state's unemployment rate remains in double digits.

If California is going to get back on track, it’s going to have to improve its climate for job creators — especially small business owners.

One place to start is reform of California’s abusive lawsuit climate, which threatens the Golden State’s small business owners, such as Roberto Guerrero. Please watch the video below to view Roberto’s story:

Click here to watch the video.
As you can see from Roberto’s story, abuse of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is a real threat to California small businesses, such as Roberto’s.

Unlike in most states, California law authorizes monetary damages in ADA cases, which incentivizes enterprising plaintiffs and their lawyers to bring lawsuits for even minor ADA violations. The law also provides for damages of up to $4,000 for each and every visit to a non-compliant business, encouraging plaintiffs to not report problems and instead repeatedly visit a business in order to claim greater payouts.

Most small businesses, such as Roberto’s, operate on small profit margins. As such, in an economic downturn, a single lawsuit can mean the difference between survival and closing up shop.

Please click here to view Roberto’s story.

Understanding the problem is the first step toward reforming the Sunshine State’s abusive lawsuit climate.
IRL
IRLIRLAbout the Institute for Legal Reform (ILR)
The Institute for Legal Reform is an advocacy group working to end lawsuit abuse. ILR is a national campaign of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, with the critical mission of making America's legal system simpler, faster, and fairer for everyone.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

California Chamber of Commerce IDs Job Killing Legislation


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​The California Chamber of Commerce's List of Proposed Legislation to Keep An Eye on for Affecting Jobs. 
Please read through the list and report out on how these Bills may affect your business or your job.


CalChamber Releases 2012 Job Killer Bill List

​Unveils new CAJobKillers.com website 

(April 10, 2012) The California Chamber of Commerce today released its annual list of “job killer” bills calling attention to the negative impact that 23 proposed measures would have on California’s competitiveness and job climate if they were to become law.  CalChamber also unveiled a new, one-of-a-kind website — CAJobKillers.com — which will highlight California’s job killing proposals, policies, regulations, and legislators. 
“This year’s ‘job killer’ list includes 23 bills that threaten to create further hardships and costs for private sector job creators in a time of unprecedented unemployment,” said Allan Zaremberg, President and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce.  “Businesses are clamoring for commonsense proposals and a return to reason in California.  In a state where we need to do everything possible to improve the economy, it is imperative that legislators stop introducing and passing bills that cost jobs and erode the quality of life for all Californians.”  
CalChamber’s new website, www.CAJobKillers.com, will serve as a clearinghouse for all information related to those bills, regulations and policy makers deemed to be a threat to California’s ability to retain and create jobs.  Visitors to the site will have ready access to bill information, CalChamber position letters, articles, and CalChamber News video segments.
Legislation included on the “job killer” list released today will change throughout the year as bills are amended or new language is introduced.
The 2012 “job killer” list follows:

Barriers to Economic Recovery

AB 1543 (Alejo; D-Salinas) Unconstitutional Limit on International Trade — Increases the cost of state contracts and reinstates a requirement already struck down by California courts by prohibiting state and local governments from contracting with many businesses that use component parts and materials from other countries in construction projects and to manufacture goods.
AB 1897 (Campos; D-San Jose) Impedes Development — Increases the cost of development and creates project delays by requiring that general plans incorporate concepts related to healthy food access and urban agriculture.
AB 1963 (Huber; D-El Dorado Hills) Targeted Tax on Services — Imposes a new sales-and-use-tax base on numerous services, disadvantaging California businesses that will not benefit by the proposed reduction in other tax rates.
AB 2517 (Eng; D-Monterey Park) Inappropriate Wage Liens — Will basically destroy the real estate market in California by allowing employees to file liens on an employer’s real property or any other person’s real property where work was performed for unproven wage claims, that take precedent over almost any other lien on the property, including mortgages.
AB 2540 (Gatto; D-Los Angeles) Targeted Tax on Services — Imposes a new sales-and-use-tax base on numerous services, disadvantaging small businesses that may not necessarily benefit from the proposed tax exemption for the first $10,000 in business income.
SB 950 (Alquist; D-Santa Clara) Unreasonable and Duplicative Tax Penalties for Employers — Forces taxpayers to overpay their taxes in order to avoid severe penalties.
SB 1470 (Leno; D-San Francisco) Impedes Economic Recovery — Delays the recovery of California’s housing market by allowing all borrowers, including strategic defaulters and investors, to abuse the loan modification process to forestall legitimate foreclosures.

Costly Workplace Mandates

AB 1313 (Allen; D-Santa Rosa) Increased Cost on Agricultural Employers — Drives up the cost of commodities to consumers by removing the existing overtime exemption allowed for agricultural employers.
AB 1439 (Alejo; D-Salinas) Automatic Minimum Wage Increase — Increases the cost of doing business on California employers by annually indexing the minimum wage rate upwards according to the percentage of inflation even during an economic downturn.
AB 1450 (Allen; D-Santa Rosa) Expansion of Discrimination Litigation — Subjects employers to charges of discrimination for legitimately inquiring into an applicant’s employment history.
AB 1808 (Williams; D-Santa Barbara) Improper Characterization of Private Employees to Allow Potential Card Check Unionization — Significantly expands the definition of “public employee” to include employees of any private employer where a public agency “shares” in the employment decisions of those private employees, thereby subjecting private employers to petitions of recognition from public employee unions.
AB 1999 (Brownley; D-Santa Monica) Expansion of Discrimination Litigation — Makes it virtually impossible for employers to manage their employees and exposes them to a higher risk of litigation by expanding the Fair Employment and Housing Act to include a protected classification for any person who is, who will be, or who is perceived as a family caregiver.
AB 2039 (Swanson; D-Alameda) Expansion of Protected Leave Requirements for California Employers — Creates a burdensome, California–only mandated benefit that significantly expands the category of individuals with serious health conditions for whom an employee can take a leave of absence beyond what is currently included under the federal Family Medical Leave Act.
AB 2217 (Pan; D-Sacramento) Targeted Burden on Companies with Call Centers — Discourages businesses from even locating a call center in California by requiring the business to adhere to overreaching mandates.

Expensive, Unnecessary Regulatory Burdens

AB 2424 (Portantino; D-Pasadena) New State Goals for Forestry — Increases costs of timber production by changing the state’s forestry goals to give equal consideration to each public need when reviewing forestry operations, including Timber Harvest Plans.
SB 568 (A. Lowenthal; D-Long Beach) Polystyrene Food Container Ban — Threatens thousands of manufacturing jobs within the state by inappropriately banning all food vendors from using polystyrene foam food service containers, ignoring the numerous environmental benefits associated with polystyrene products.

Fuel Price Increases

AB 1532 (John A. Pérez; D-Los Angeles)/ AB 2404 (Fuentes; D-Los Angeles)/ SB 535 (De León; D-Los Angeles)/ SB 1572(Pavley; D-Agoura Hills)  Illegal Tax Increase — Increases energy costs, including fuel prices, on consumers and businesses by allocating funds from an illegal tax to various programs that are not necessary to cost-effectively implement the market-based trading mechanism under AB 32.

Inflated Liability Costs

AB 1208 (C. Calderon; D-Montebello) Court Inefficiency — Creates uncertainty, inefficiency and unpredictability for litigants, further aggravating California’s reputation as a bad place to do business, by decentralizing control of trial court funds.
AB 2149 (Butler; D-Los Angeles) Discourages Settlement Agreements — Inappropriately interferes in the contractual relationship between two parties by allowing the sharing of certain information contained in settlement agreements.
SB 1528 (Steinberg; D-Sacramento) Inflates Litigation and Insurance Costs — Artificially inflates medical damage awards in personal injury cases by allowing an injured party to recover expenses never actually incurred, ultimately increasing not only legal costs, but also rates for auto, health, workers’ compensation and general liability insurance.

Monday, February 6, 2012

How to Keep High Speed Rail Jobs from Going Out of State or Overseas

The article below by Tim Sheehan of the Fresno Bee, provides a list of the five teams qualified as bidders for the California high speed rail project. There high participation of Spanish firms is understandable because Spain has the one of the most successful high speed rail systems. The question is: 


What is the California governor and legislature doing to make sure that state revenue primarily goes to creating jobs that stay in California? 


The administration and your elected representatives need to hear from you that you want controls on the contract requiring the work is done in California - even if that means relocating factories and a labor force to this beautiful state.


Firms on short list to build part of rail system revealed

 | Thursday, Feb 02 2012 04:35 PM
Last Updated Thursday, Feb 02 2012 04:36 PM
Fourteen construction companies are on the short list of firms poised to bid for contracts to begin building California's high-speed rail system in the Fresno area later this year.
The list was revealed by California High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Roelof van Ark at the authority board's monthly meeting Thursday in Sacramento.
Van Ark said the companies have formed into five teams that the authority has qualified to compete for a contract on a stretch of the line through Fresno, from the San Joaquin River at the north end to American Avenue at the south end. The contract is expected to be worth $1.5 billion to $2 billion.
The builder teams are:
* California Backbone Builders, a consortium of two Spanish construction firms -- Ferrovial Agroman and Acciona.
* California High-Speed Rail Partners, composed of Fluor Corp. of Texas, Swedish-based Skanska, and PCL Constructors of Canada.
* California High-Speed Ventures, made up of Kiewit Corp. of Nebraska, Granite Construction of Watsonville, and Comsa EMTE of Spain.
* A joint venture of Dragados SA of Spain, Denver-based Flatiron Construction Corp., and Shimmick Construction of Oakland.
* Tutor Perini Corp. of Sylmar, Zachry Construction of Texas and Pasadena-based Parsons Corp.
The project includes building 12 street overcrossings or underpasses, two elevated viaducts, a tunnel and a bridge across the San Joaquin River. Laying the tracks will be done later under a separate contract.
While the authority has qualified the teams in a screening process, significant hurdles remain, and it could be months before the companies get a chance to submit bids.
The state Legislature has yet to approve nearly $3 billion in bond funds from Proposition 1A, a 2008 bond measure -- no sure thing, given a barrage of criticism of the authority's latest business plan by the state's legislative analyst, auditor and a peer review group appointed by the legislature.
Final environmental documents for two sections of rail routes through the Valley -- from Merced to Fresno and Fresno to Bakersfield -- must also be approved before the authority can seek bids. Van Ark said the authority's board will consider the environmental reports for Merced-Fresno in early May, but reports for Fresno-Bakersfield are going through more revisions.
Van Ark said appraisers will likely begin meeting with property owners in the Fresno area in late February and early March to explain how the authority plans to buy the right of way it needs to lay tracks through the city.
The route in Fresno generally follows the Union Pacific Railroad tracks near Highway 99 from the San Joaquin River through downtown, before curving south to follow the Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight tracks south of the city.
The reporter can be reached at tsheehan@fresnobee.com or (559) 441-6319.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

California Governor Ordered Firing of UNQUALIFIED Regulators

Michael Mishak's article in the LA TImes does a fair job of covering the firing of Derek Chernow and Elena Miller for purportedly trying to block oil permitting in the state on environmental grounds. What the article missed was that both Chernow and Miller were grossly unqualified political appointees left over from the Schwarzenegger administration and that neither had any qualifications to be in the respective positions they held. Neither could legitimately make any assessments as to the safety of the well drilling process as neither was an engineer, geologist, or environmental scientist trained in evaluating such technologies or the consequences of failure of oversight. Their opposition to drilling was purely political because there was no basis for it to be anything else. Governor Brown needs to make sure that the new leadership team has impeccable credentials in both environmental protection and in the science/engineering fields they oversee. The following is the original Mishak article:




California governor ordered firing of regulator who cracked down on oil companies
Los Angeles Times (MICHAEL J. MISHAK)
Posted:  01/29/2012 12:02 PM
    
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Late last year, California Gov. Jerry Brown pushed for a top state regulator to ease key requirements for companies seeking to tap California's oil. The official balked.
Relaxing rules on underground injection, a risky method of oil extraction common in the state, would violate environmental laws, wrote Derek Chernow, then head of the Department of Conservation, in a memo obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
The process, in which a rush of steam, water and chemicals flushes oil from old wells, had been linked to spills, eruptions and a Kern County worker's death. The federal government had asked the state to tighten its regulations, but the oil industry complained that the stringent rules were killing jobs.
A week after Chernow wrote his memo, Brown had him fired, along with a deputy, Elena Miller. The governor appointed replacements who agreed to stop subjecting every injection project to a  top-to-bottom review before issuing a permit.
Brown's decision to side with energy interests over his regulators reflects the economic and political pressures on the governor during his return engagement in Sacramento. The economy is still sluggish in the wake of a deep recession, and unemployment remains high.
Although Brown has fought offshore drilling and sued oil companies throughout his career, making him a favorite of environmentalists, he now talks of tossing cumbersome regulations to revive the economy. The oil industry, in particular, employs tens of thousands of Californians, many of them in Kern County, where the jobless rate is 14.5 percent.
The governor is also seeking support from corporate interests, which complain that California is over-regulated, for his proposed ballot initiative to raise taxes. This month, Occidental Petroleum Corp., the largest onshore crude producer in the continental U.S., gave $250,000 to the signature-gathering effort.
Administration officials said the eased permit rules were part of Brown's larger effort to streamline regulations and spur job creation. The ousted regulators, they said, had taken a "one-size-fits-all" approach to permitting in a state with vast geological differences, sitting on applications for months and being unresponsive to industry.
"We have to balance good environmental protection and economic growth," said John Laird, Brown's secretary of natural resources. "The law allows discretion on how you best protect the environment and move the applications along.... Our goal is to make things run more efficiently."
Chernow and Miller declined to comment.
Underground injection is used to coax oil from depleted wells. Because California's oil fields have been heavily worked for decades, the method is responsible for most of the state's onshore production.
But the procedure came under the scrutiny of Chernow and Miller, who were brought aboard under former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in the wake of a scandal in the oil and gas agency. Officials there had been trading in stocks of the oil companies they regulated, among other violations.
Armed with an internal review that found lax monitoring of injection projects, Chernow and Miller in 2010 stripped field offices of their power to approve permits and strengthened oversight in Sacramento.
Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Association, a lobbying group, said regulators began requesting so much information about every project - "an infinite do-loop" - that they effectively halted production for some operators.
The fight intensified last June, when a Chevron worker died after being swallowed feet-first into a sinkhole of boiling fluids. Investigators for the oil and gas agency blamed the accident on steam injection. Miller issued emergency orders ceasing operations near the damaged well.
In July, the federal EPA added its voice to concerns about underground injection in California. In an audit, it found that regulators were not adequately protecting potential drinking water and urged them to tighten extraction standards.
Oil companies, which wanted to expand work in California after unrest in the Middle East and North Africa had hurt output, were furious over the tighter permit requirements.
"We've been in business since the turn of the century, and then all of a sudden everything we do out there is not right," said Les Clark, executive vice president of the Independent Oil Producers Agency, a trade group. "It starts snowballing, and before too long you're not going to be in business because the regulations are too costly and too complicated to deal with."
A handful of state and federal lawmakers from oil-rich Kern County agreed, lobbying Brown and administration officials to intervene.
Democratic state Sen. Michael Rubio said in an interview that the permitting process was "broken" and that regulators were taking a "one-sided" approach to underground injection. "In government, we have an obligation to have an open-door policy and have input from all sides," he said.
Oil contractors began a letter-writing campaign, flooding the administration with complaints that the longer permit process was threatening their livelihoods. Occidental and Berry Petroleum Co. executives groused about the delays to analysts in their earnings calls, and Berry's chief executive officer said his Denver-based company would redirect investment outside California.
By October, Brown had asked that officials develop a permitting shortcut. According to Chernow's memo, the administration proposed allowing oil companies to begin drilling and injecting wells after submitting basic documents; they would be required to complete a full engineering review later and correct any problems after the fact.
Chernow argued that the proposal violated state and federal rules requiring a complete review before injection can begin and warned that it could open the state up to lawsuits. Environmentalists, he said, "will argue, correctly, that the laws ... are intended to prevent damage before it occurs," he wrote.
Administration officials said they ultimately abandoned that proposal but agreed to the industry's request that some projects be green-lighted without a full review. The officials have returned much of the permitting power to district offices, saying Miller's headquarters mandate caused a backlog and created an unnecessary burden for the agency. They said at least 77 well permits that were on hold as of Nov. 15 have since been approved.
Reheis-Boyd of the Western States Petroleum Association praised the agency's new direction, saying it now has a "clear pathway for people to get permits and proceed with drilling in this state."
"The communications lines are very open," she said.

Brown boasted recently about the expedited permits. At a solar energy farm in a Sacramento suburb Jan. 13, he reaffirmed his commitment to all forms of energy development.
"It's not easy," Brown said. "There are going to be screw-ups. There are going to be bankruptcies. There will be indictments and there will be deaths. But we're going to keep going."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Leadership Vacuum at the Department of Conservation

This article is from Bloomberg reporting on a long overdue ouster of two of California's worst impediments to jobs and investment in the California's energy industry. The Leadership vacuum at DOC existed long before Governor Brown came into office and we are pleased to see steps being made to bring in new leadership.


California Regulators Miller, Chernow Replaced by Governor
By Mark Chediak - Nov 4, 2011 5:15 PM PT
California Governor Jerry Brown fired Derek Chernow, acting director of the California Department of Conservation, and Elena Miller, oil and gas supervisor at the department’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, said Richard Stapler, spokesman for the California Natural Resources Agency.
“The governor chose to go in a different direction,” Stapler said in a telephone interview. Chernow and Miller, who were dismissed yesterday, were appointees and “served at the pleasure of the governor,” he said.
Chernow will be replaced by Cliff Rechtschaffen, a senior energy adviser in the governor’s office, Stapler said. A replacement for Miller has yet to be named, he said.
The Western States Petroleum Association had expressed frustration at the slow pace of state approval for new oil drilling permits from Miller’s division.
Miller and Chernow could not be immediately reached for comment.
California’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources has granted 14 permits essential to new drilling projects as of September of this year out of 199 applications received, compared with 27 out of 100 in 2010 and 37 out of 52 the year before that, state figures show.
To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Chediak in San Francisco at mchediak@bloomberg.net.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tina Davis tinadavis@bloomberg.net

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Boardmanship No No -- Do Not Sleep During Testimony

The Sacramento Bee
Top Stories
Capitol Alert: California high-speed rail official caught nodding off in meeting
tvanoot@sacbee.com (Torey Van Oot)
Posted:  09/27/2011 9:24 PM
 
The action at a recent California High-Speed Rail Authority apparently wasn't fast-paced enough to keep the attention of one agency official.
Lance Simmens, HSRA's new deputy director for communications and public policy, was caught nodding off at a public meeting held in Kern County last week. His brief snooze was recorded on camera by a local resident attending the meeting and later posted on the agency's Facebook page and YouTube.
The incident irked local residents and project critics on hand to comment on the proposed bullet train.
Simmens' blamed lack of food and water, not lack of interest in the discussion, for his slip, according to a Facebook comment reported by the Hanford Sentinel:


"I would like to offer my sincerest apologies to those in Hanford last evening," the comment by Simmens read. "After arriving just in time to the public hearing  from Sacramento, I had not had the opportunity to have either breakfast or lunch and was dehydrated due to the heat. Although I tried to tough it out, it got the best of me and for a while I felt as though I was going to pass out. After hydrating with sufficient liquids, I was revived and attentive to the comments being voiced by all of those attending last night's event. I only wish I had the chance to do so earlier and want to assure all concerned that I was trying my best to stay alert through the entire hearing. Once again, there was absolutely no intention on my part to either shirk my responsibilities or offend those in the audience. I am sure you will appreciate my embarrassment and ask that you focus on my attentiveness for the bulk of the five-hour hearing and not on the short period where I was struggling to not pass out altogether. Thank you."

A HSRA spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.
The brief video of Simmens snoozing is posted below. Read the full Sentinel account of the incident at this link.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Insubordinate Staff gets $600,000 Award for Wrongful Firing


Brown signs bill approving wrongful-firing settlement
dsiders@sacbee.com (David Siders)
Posted:  07/27/2011 8:11 AM

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation approving a $600,000 settlement in a wrongful-termination case filed by the former director of the Board of State Chiropractic Examiners.
Senate Bill 206, which Brown announced signing Tuesday, was approved with bipartisan support in the Legislature.
Catherine Hayes, who was fired from the chiropractic board staff in 2007, claimed in a lawsuit the following year that she was fired for cooperating with a criminal investigation and for clashes with board members appointed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Hayes challenged the competency of the appointees shortly before the board fired her.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Energy Users Fighting to Sunset 15-year old "Temporary" Taxes



This from the Energy Users Coalition

Two Sacramento politicians are trying to extend a $350 million utility tax that was originally sold to us as a "temporary" measure in 1996. Their bills, AB 723 and AB 1303, are direct taxes and are now headed to State Senate policy committees after passing in the Assembly.

The good news is that as taxes they require the support of 2/3 of the Legislature, so we can stop them if we can just keep Republican Senators from voting for the bills. Most Republican Senators are on record as having made a commitment to opposing tax hikes and supporting job creation, but we must make ourselves heard to hold them to these promises.

Take action to stop the $350 million giveaway of your tax dollars to public utilities

The author of AB 723, Asm. Steve Bradford, is himself a former public utility executive, while his buddy Asm. Das Williams, the author of AB 1303 is a former city councilman from wealthy Santa Barbara with a record of opposing energy production and supporting costly green energy mandates.

AB 723 and AB 1303 are a bad idea for all of these following reasons:

California's electricity costs are already 50% higher on average than other states.
Costly energy is a main factor killing well-paying blue collar jobs in such fields as manufacturing and driving California's unemployment to record highs.
High electricity rates are a key factor in California's unusually high gas prices. Oil refining is energy intensive and high rates for refiners mean higher gas prices for all of us.
If this tax was ever necessary, it is not anymore. Since this tax was imposed in 1996 as a temporary measure to encourage renewable energy after utility deregulation, many other expensive green energy mandates have been imposed and the utility industry has been re-regulated.
The tax dollars paid into this program have been mismanaged and used for things having nothing to do with energy, including how "global warming" might affect bird distribution.
One new green energy mandate alone is expected to raise energy costs by 30-80%, so your help is crucial to stopping this unnecessary job-killing tax. Please take the following actions to stop these bills:

SIGN the petition to the California Legislature telling the politicians to vote NO
WRITE letters to the editor to your local newspaper opposing AB 723 and AB 1303. If your letter is published, please email it to me atEric@Coalitionofenergyusers.org so I can share it with other activists.
TESTIFY at the upcoming hearings on the bill. These bills are scheduled to be heard in Senate policy committees on June 29th and July 5th.
DOWNLOAD the fact sheet and distribute it to your friends and fellow activists.
A $350 million a year energy tax is really the last thing we need in this time of record high unemployment. Some Republicans in the Assembly have already supported these bills, which are identical except for the length of time they extend the tax, so we cannot count on Senate Republicans to stand against these bills unless we make ourselves heard.

Perhaps the Assemblymembers who betrayed their supposed belief in fiscal responsibility and job creation thought nobody would notice. It's time for us to turn up the pressure, so Senate Republicans will be under no illusion that citizens aren't paying attention.

Thank you for your support. Restoring our state to economic prosperity is possible and your activism is key. Can you imagine that a generation ago, electricity was so cheap they thought meters would be obsolete within a decade? The only thing that has driven up costs is government, so it is well within our reach to get our Golden State back!

If you liked the information in this action alert please use the social networking icon on the top to share it with your contacts on Facebook and Twitter.

Sincerely,
Eric Eisenhammer
Founder
Coalition of Energy Users

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Kathy Carroll, Recognized as a Champion for School Children's Safety

Yesterday was a day of vindication for Whistle Blower Kathy Carroll. The California Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC) met yesterday in a hearing to review the audit of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC), which by several accounts is one of the state's worst managed agencies. Opening comments came from Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg lauding Carroll's willingness to embrace her duty to protect children despite placing her job at risk. His comments can be heard at the link provided. Carroll was actually fired for her whistle blowing and has a Personnel Board hearing later this summer regarding that action, but the JLAC hearing was what made it all worthwhile for her.

Before discussing the worst in government, lets take a moment to appreciate an example of good governance. JLAC Chair Assemblymember Lara's candor in expressing his dedication to school children's safety was genuine setting a tone for the committee. All of our legislators at the hearing were well prepared asking penetrating questions and demonstrated a commitment to quickly solving the problem. Their concern about this dysfunctional board united them so that no political partisanship or posturing was in evidence during the two hour hearing.

Senator LaMalfa and Assemblymember Alejo both asked questions driving to the heart of the issues, while Senator Dutton and Assemblymember Huber both immediately grasped the "empire-building" motivation of the CTC leadership. Assemblymember Norby jumped forward asking questions about ways to restructure the teacher credentialing function within the state and how other states handle their credentialing. In fact the entire legislative panel attending instilled confidence that our state's leadership is in control and working well together on behalf of the safety of our children. Credit is certainly due to all of them and their staff.

Credit is also due to State Auditor Elaine Howle and her experienced team whose characteristically thorough audit revealed inexcusable delays in revoking teacher credentials from convicted felons, more than 12,000 cases backlogged, and a commission employee work force stacked with relatives and friends of the Executive Staff and attorneys. The audit results indicated that nearly half of the staff feared retaliation for whistle blowing. Carroll felt that as an attorney she had a duty to report the actions up her supervisory chain, but knew that they would not be welcome.

The auditors also expressed concern about unlawful delegation of authority when the backlog when about 8,000 cases were cleared in a matter of months. Student assistants apparently were sorting through the cases and making a first determination about whether the CTC's subcommittee should even review the cases. Something rang false about the CTC's responses when questioned by the legislators about the appropriateness of the reviews and legitimacy of the backlog.

Apparently, the credential revocation case information that goes before the commission is merely a name, address, and encoding number without any fact-finding or even a summary of the incident involved. The case reviews are fully delegated to staff. So why have a commission? This type of deliberative body is said to operate under symbolic theory of governance. This means that the commissioners offer little benefit of a board system of governance. Decisions are made prior to meetings, behind the scenes, driven by staff, and with little or no input from the public.

The state audit also addressed concerns over state employee's working environment saying that more than 33% of the staff did not know the proper grievance procedures or about whistle blower and EEOC protection laws. The findings also stated that 43% of the employees thought that filing a grievance would result in retaliation. The biggest chuckle from the audience came when Executive Director Dale Janssen responded saying that his own internal survey of fear of retaliation by him or his executive staff had the percentage closer to 25% and dropping each year.

CTC Chair Ting Sun was in the hot seat with questions about when she knew what about the dysfunction of the commission and why she did not respond at the time with appropriate outrage. Her nearly dead pan response was that she was outraged that her dedication to transparency and child safety was being called into question. She stated at the beginning of her comments that the performance of the CTC was unacceptable. However, she provided no indication that she felt any responsibility for allowing the conditions at the commission to become so dysfunctional.

An overarching issue emerged during the hearing about the California whistle blower laws. The attention to this case is promising for the future overhaul of the system to encourage other state employees to come forward and to ensure that they will not be subject to retaliation. Apparently, under Senator Steinberg's leadership, we can look forward to rooting out state government waste and corruption.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Is California Governor Brown the Real Terminator?

The May Revision of Governor Brown's proposed budget is out on the street, listing more than 30 boards and commissions slated for termination. An additional handful are due for realignment and 15 programs within agencies are slated for closure or at least reduction. Reduction in state government promises to be significant with Senate Pro Tem Steinberg on the same page going after dysfunctional boards and commissions and Chairpersons Lara (Joint Legislative Audits Committee) and Huber (Joint Legislative Sunset Review Committee) focused on reviewing effectiveness of state agencies.

So far, those on the opposite side of the aisle appear receptive to these reductions and if so, the long polarized California State Legislature may have found a pivotal point for cooperation. Of course, proposals must translate to action, but if accomplished, look for approval ratings for the government to be on the rise.

These proposed realignments and closures may be only the first steps in an incremental and systematic process where the closure or realignment of one function, obviates the closure and realignment of others.

For example, the elimination of the Mining and Geology Board, one of the oldest boards in the state, and  realignment of the Recycling Division two years ago have significantly diminished the role of the Department of Conservation. Governor Schwarzenegger sought proposals to eliminate the department eight years ago. Now, with piecemeal dismantling, the entire Department of Conservation stands in line for termination. Moving the Williamson Act program into a realigned State Lands function will leave the remaining Conservation divisions more sensibly under the purview of the State Geologist. This will require that the management of state mining, geothermal, oil and gas, seismic and geohazards analysis, and mineral resources all be led by someone with significant expertise in these fields and not by the completely unqualified and inexperienced wife or son of political favorites as during the past eight years.

As long as we catch the government in a terminating mood, they can collapse the State Seismic safety Commission under the State Geologist and move the Seismic Engineering Branch of the Department of Water Resources and the Division of Earthquake Engineering From Caltrans over, too. Then (as novel as this idea in California may be) the different departments can work collaboratively together. Right now, they don't and duplication in just the area of seismic safety and engineering is so fractured in the state that it takes major agreements and pushing funding around just to use each other's data. That is the state using the state's information.

Monday, May 16, 2011

California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board Targeted for Closure

Governor Brown is revealing himself as a more active terminator of government deadwood than his action hero predecessor. A recent announcement that the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Boards (CUIAB) is in his cross hairs may signal a move towards placing all the administrative judge functions of boards under a single authority.

Many of the professional licensing boards and appeals boards in the state do not themselves hold hearings to make findings or decisions with regard to resolving cases. This work is done by hired consultants and administrative judges. These boards, more than most, cross the check and balance boundaries of the three branches of government that we all learned about in high school.

Like many of the highly-paid boards, the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board has turned into an Ex-Legislator private membership club with termed-out or voter-rejected legislators receiving appointments and receiving upwards of $128,000 to accomplish very little. The public portion of the meetings last only a few hours once or twice a month and board members do little more than listen to staff reports. The board rarely votes, rarely directs the staff, rarely commits to anything while administrative judges do all their heavy lifting.

These CUIAB members do not actually hear unemployment insurance appeals, that is accomplished by administrative judges. After brief reports, the board recesses into closed session, rarely reporting out of the closed session as to the results per the Bagley-Keene Act. It is nice work, if you can get it! The JLSRC has an organizing meeting this Wednesday at the Capitol. As the JLSRC advances ideas for board and commission realignment, it appears there will be a governor at the ready to follow through.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

AGENDA 21


Coming from Melody Lane of the Compass Group: 

Patriots, Watchmen & Watchdogs:

Event: River Valley Tea Party Patriots http://www.ranchomurieta.com/rvtpp
Date - Time:  Wednesday, May 18, 2011 @ 7:00 PM
Location: Cosumnes River Elementary School, 13580 Jackson Rd., Rancho Murietta
Subject:  (See attached) Agenda 21/Sustainable Development - Our May meeting will include a panel of five local citizens giving personal testimony on the loss of freedom and personal property rights they have begun to experience due to Agenda 21 implementation by the State of California and County government officials. 

Our Property Rights in Peril

            Liberty was the foundation on which the greatest country in human history was built.  “Property must be secured, or liberty cannot exist.” - John Adams.  “Private property and freedom are inseparable.” - George Washington.  Our founding fathers knew the importance of liberty and its connection to the private property ownership. Liberty was the essential issue on which we fought our War of Independence - “To secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our prosperity.”

            Today we face an insidious encroachment on our liberty through an assault on the private ownership of property.  In 1992 our government willingly ‘signed on’  to Agenda 21 as a result of the United Nations Rio Earth Summit.  President H. W. Bush was the signatory for the United States.  As with any new program that might be controversial a new term was coined to cloak the intended consequences of the resulting changes, thus - “Sustainable Development” became a politically correct buzz word for ‘forward thinking‘ liberal politicians. The momentum behind this insidious movement revolves around the triad of - Environmentalism, Equity of justice and Economic redistribution of wealth.

            Environmentalism is at the core of this UN led movement.  We have all heard of the litany of ‘environmental’ evils committed by humans, and especially the United States.  Our disproportionate use of fossil fuels has been declared (but never proven) to cause global warming.  At the center of this over usage is, of course, the use of the automobile.  Besides the obvious use of fossil fuels the other less talked about problem with the automobile is the freedom it affords the user.  Under Agenda 21 the automobile will be made virtually unnecessary since you will be living either next to where you work or have easy access to mass transit.  Where you live, after the full implementation of Agenda 21, will be restricted to approved “Human Settlement” areas.

            The second leg of this triad is Equity within the justice system.  In order to enact the complete transformation of our system to accommodate the tenets of this movement our legal system will by necessity be reconfigured from our current equal justice under the law to a ‘social justice’ system.  This ‘reconfiguring’ of our justice system will provide for a society based on equal outcomes and not equal opportunities.  To make this huge leap will require the current on going indoctrination of our youth in public schools to accept a new environmental centered legal system.

            The last leg of this triad is the Economic redistribution of wealth.  The misguided understanding by many in the UN is that wealthy countries became wealthy on the backs of the poor countries.  The net result of implementing this erroneous notion will be a drastic reduction in the living standards of the wealthy nations.  The only thing ‘sustainable’ in this Orwellian movement is sustainable poverty on a worldwide basis.

            Only recently did I learn of Agenda 21 and the nefarious ‘under the radar’ movement taking place right here and right now in the Sacramento area.  Please do not take my word on this movement.  Go on the internet to reliable sites and read about Agenda 21.  Better yet, come to the next River Valley Tea Party Patriot meeting on May 18 (Wednesday).   As always our meetings start at 7:00PM.  Please take note: Our new meeting location is Cosumnes River Elementary School, 13580 Jackson Rd.  Bring a friend.

            Our May meeting will include a panel of five local citizens giving personal testimony on the loss of freedom and personal property rights they have begun to experience due to Agenda 21 implementation by the State of California and County government officials.  This usurpation of our property rights requires a call to action to stop this government sponsored movement.