The Water Bond Is Another Missed Opportunity

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

If the state of California could tax self-congratulation over missed political opportunities, we might have the money to rebuild our water infrastructure.

The water bond placed on the ballot by the legislature is of a piece with other less than impressive triumphs of the Brown Era. Presented with events and political possibilities to make big progress on a crucial issue, political leaders choose something small that doesn’t change all that much.

In water, the state’s needs – just to meet existing population and existing repair – run into tens, if not hundreds of billions of dollars. And this year, with a historic drought, the time was right for a fix. The state already had an $11 billion bond on the ballot that – despite constant criticism of it by the governor and media as full of pork – was doing well in polls.

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Is Litigation Costing You Your Kid’s Education?

Tom Scott
Executive Director, California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

As Californians prepare to send their children back to school, local school districts are preparing to welcome students, teachers, and staff back into the classroom. In recent years, however, high litigation costs have contributed to cutbacks in school budgets placing added pressure on the budgets of school districts, parents and teachers.

California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse has just released its 2014 School Litigation Report, which analyzed the litigation costs to 12 districts for fiscal years 2010-2011 through 2012-2013. The report found that the districts combined spent more than $125.6 million on litigation, spending $96.1 million on outside counsel, and $29.4 million on verdicts and settlements. The report can be read here.

That’s $125 million that districts spent on litigation instead of providing their students an education. Worse, because the districts examined account for less than 20 percent of the total enrollment of California’s K-12 public school districts, the total economic impact of litigation to the state’s education system is likely much higher than the cost reported here.

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A Look at Growth in Manufacturing and Other Sectors vs. The U.S.

Gino DiCaro
Vice President of Communications for the California Manufacturers & Technology Association

In light of 4,600 new California manufacturing jobs reported in July, we thought we’d take a look at how some of the largest job sectors were doing against the rest of the country since we began to come out of the recession in 2010.  The CMTA chart below shows each sector’s growth and average salary in both California and the U.S. It also shows the percentage of the private sector job base that each of these sectors account for in California.  In total it shows our state needs to find ways to attract more manufacturing.  Upticks like we saw in July are promising but California must keep it up.

Click the image for larger picture.

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Vergara Appeal Decision

Chris Reed
San Diego Union Tribune editorial writer and former host of KOGO Radio’s “Top Story” weeknight news talk show

To an astounding degree, prominent California Democrats have so far avoided substantive comment on Judge Rolf Treu’s landmark — but tentative – June 10 ruling in Los Angeles Superior Court that teacher tenure laws are so harmful to minority students in poor neighborhoods that it “shocks the conscience.”

A spokesman for Attorney General Kamala Harris told me repeatedly that the AG’s office wasn’t deciding on whether to appeal. He said Harris would do what her clients wanted. Gov. Jerry Brown and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson are named plaintiffs in the case, and if either or both want to appeal, I was told, Harris would then appeal.

Treu is expected to issue a final ruling by Sept.10, at which point an appeal decision must be finalized.

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2000s Job Growth Continues to Follow Population

Wendell Cox
Visiting Professor, Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, Paris

The United States lost jobs between 2000 and 2010, the first loss between census years that has been recorded in the nation’s history. The decline was attributable to two economic shocks, the contraction following the 9/11 attacks and the Great Recession, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Yet, even in this moribund job market, employment continued to disperse in the nation’s major metropolitan areas.

This is the conclusion of a small area analysis (zip code tabulation areas) of data from County Business Patterns, from the Census Bureau, which captures nearly all private sector employment and between 85 and 90 percent of all employment (Note 1).

The small area analysis avoids the exaggeration of urban core data that necessarily occurs from reliance on the municipal boundaries of core cities (which are themselves nearly 60 percent suburban or exurban, ranging from as little as three percent to virtually 100 percent). This “City Sector Model” small area analysis method is described in greater detail in Note 2.

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Napa Earthquake

 

Earthquake Information for California Residents

  • In California, residential earthquake coverage can be purchased through the California Earthquake Authority (CEA).
  • A CEA policy must be in place for insurance coverage to be available.
  • Aftershocks that occur within 360 hours (15 days) of the main earthquake will be considered a part of the same quake.
  • The CEA policy provides coverage for emergency repairs, up to $1,500. These repairs are NOT subject to a deductible.
  • CEA policies also include coverage for additional living expenses when you’re unable to stay in your home due to earthquake damage.

Information provided by State Farm

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Reform the Pension System? “Nuts!”

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters zeroed in on the problem with the CalPERS Board coming up with many end runs to increase or “spike” pension benefits, labeling the add-ons for pension purposes “nuts.” Trouble is the unions and their allies use the same expression when it comes to suggestions about reforming the pension system.

The CalPERS Board’s actions to undercut pension spiking by adding temporary pay or increased pay for specific jobs into the pension calculation was mocked by a number of writers over the weekend with the temporary pay provision criticized by Governor Jerry Brown.

Hard not to be cynical of the reasons employees will get higher wages that will count in juicing their pensions. In the private sector, clerical employees don’t get extra cash for typing and taking dictation. Isn’t that what they are supposed to do? Librarians get extra payments if they routinely help library patrons find books and resources. Huh?

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California Legislature Sending The Wrong Message By Blocking SCA 17

Ed Coghlan
Contributing Editor & Special Correspondent, California Forward

The California Legislature missed a couple of opportunities this month to help restore the public’s trust in government.

Senate leader Darrell Steinberg’s effort to withhold the salaries of suspended lawmakers will not make it onto the November 2014 ballot.

Steinberg proposed the constitutional amendment in response to criminal allegations against a trio of senators. While it is officially approved for the June 2016 ballot as of this week, the fact that it was not adopted in a timely fashion is a confirmation that left to its own devices, it is difficult (though not impossible) for the State Legislature to police itself.

Another case was the shelving of legislation that would have extended the California Whistleblower Protection Act to legislative employees. The bill wasn’t killed because the idea is pretty popular among voters. Rather it was tucked away into what the Legislature calls a “suspense file,” which means that no one had to vote against it and will likely not be taken up this year.

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Our Past: A Guide For Future California Water Storage

Senator Mimi Walters
California State Senator, 37th Senate District

In the years following World War II, California industries grew exponentially, offering jobs and opportunity to a recovering nation. This growth, coupled with the beginning of the baby boom, led to a sudden spike in California’s population. With industry growing rapidly in the south it became imperative to find local water sources, or import water from elsewhere. Ultimately, it was believed that water from the north would provide southern California with a reliable water source. With that, the California aqueduct was born and became the largest California water project to date.

The idea of the aqueduct came in 1951; it was created to ensure that people and industry could thrive throughout California. In 1963, the aqueduct was completed and was running at full capacity. It has been used to transport water from the north to the south for over fifty years without any significant technological improvements. Currently, the severity of California’s drought has made the failure in updating the state’s water infrastructure even more troubling. Failure to update our water infrastructure while our population and industries have grown and changed has forced an over-reliance on groundwater and our antiquated conveyance system.

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A Voting Lottery?

John Seiler
John Seiler, an editorial writer with The Orange County Register for 19 years, is a reporter and analyst for CalWatchDog.com.

Los Angeles is considering turning voting into a lottery. Last year’s mayoral election saw a turnout of just 25 percent. The idea is to hold out the potential of winning a cash prize for showing up to do one’s civic duty.

But why should we care about people who don’t care about voting, or are too lazy to show up at the polls? It’s even easier if one gets on the registrar of voters’ list of absentee ballots. Then the ballot is mailed to you, and it only takes a couple of minutes to fill out while watching “The Days of Our Lives,” then pop it in the mailbox.

Voting rights are secure in American. In fact, unlike in almost country, you don’t even have to show an ID to vote in most places, including California.

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