Mermaid Bar Floats Rebuttal

Cross-posted at CalWatchdog.

The owners of the “Dive Bar,” also known as the Mermaid Bar in Sacramento, are apparently feeling a little testy about all of the criticism they are receiving because of the several million bucks in redevelopment subsidies they used to build the bar on the K Street Mall.

The big splash being made coincides with Governor Jerry Brown’s budget proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies in the state — just as the 7,500 gallon fish tank bar was being completed, and mermaids were auditioning.

In Wednesday’s Sacramento Bee, a half-page paid advertisement appears along with a cartoon that ran last week, depicting the mermaid bar and pizza joint receiving $6.8 million in subsidies.

Appearing to be paid for by the owner of the Mermaid Bar, the ad states that the bar and restaurant did not receive $6.8 million in subsidies as the cartoon depicts, but only received $3.1 million “derived from the sale of the Sheraton” and “invested $2.8 million of our own money.”

The bar’s owner is San Francisco nightclub owner George Karpaty, who has owned and operated several dance clubs and bars in and around the San Francisco Bay area.

Union Targeting City Management

With Wisconsin’s Governor and Republican legislators trying to repeal the state’s collective bargaining law for public-employee unions, as well as requiring state workers to pay some of their pension costs, Sacramento’s former head of labor relations, Dee Contreras, is now trying to organize a labor union of city managers and other highly-compensated administrative workers.

The practice of former city managers and upper management city executives crossing over to the other side of the negotiating table appears to be growing, despite the strong push back by voters and private sector.

Contreras retired in December right before her department was consolidated into the city’s human resources department.

Targeting upper management, assistant city managers, investigators, administrative analysts and staff aides, as well as the city attorney, a list of the jobs that Contreras plans on including in the new union are available here.

Lockyer: RDAs Entering Into Bad Deals

Cross-posted at CalWatchdog.

Immediately following Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal in January, the Legislative Analyst’s Office published an Overview of the Governor’s 2011-2012 Budget. As is often the case with the LAO, the analysis appears largely supportive, but reading deeper into the detail, analysts express significant reservations, specifically warning of one potential danger area with Brown’s proposal to eliminate the state’s 425 redevelopment agencies.

The LAO recommended that the Legislature take immediate action to pass “urgency legislation” as soon as possible, “prohibiting redevelopment agencies from taking actions that increase their debt.”

But the Legislature has not yet done this.

Cuts Ahead For State’s Many Regulations

Cross-posted at CalWatchdog.

California leads the country in regulatory laws. It’s nothing to be proud of. While other states mock California’s businesses representatives at national industry meetings for the crazy laws and regulations, California’s businesses owners and employees are paying the price with business and job losses.

Tired of temporary fixes, Sen. Sam Blakeslee and representatives from the Assembly and Senate formed the E3 Roundtable in an effort to achieve meaningful, structural regulatory reform.

Yesterday the E3 held its first meeting of the new year and invited several representatives of the business community to speak about the burden of overregulation, and the impediments to doing business in the state.

Blakeslee said the goal is not to prohibit regulations, but to reform the process in which rules and regulations are developed so that regulations better achieve the intended objectives, in a well-designed manner that is also protective of jobs and the state’s economy.

Remodeling CA Tax Laws

Cross-posted at CalWatchdog.

During the gubernatorial campaign, job creation and retention was a prominent theme in candidate Jerry Brown’s speeches. And now as governor, his recent State of the State address also included the job theme. Since being elected in November, Brown has been pushing for creating green-energy and manufacturing jobs, investing in education and infrastructure, and improving job-training programs. But Brown is also calling for the extension of $14 billion in taxes, leading many to wonder how extending tax increases can help the state’s job creators.

California legislators spent much of the past year talking about the need to improve job-creating conditions, but with very different approaches, most preferring short-term “fixes” on budget problems, through tax and fee increases.

A recent analysis by the Tax Foundation of changes to state tax law in 2010 shows that of the states in the U. S. that raised taxes, the fixes were usually focused at specific groups, rather than enacting broad-based reforms. And the Tax Foundation analysis questioned Brown’s promise to pursue a ballot initiative in June that would increase the “temporary” taxes.

Green Jobs Or Tax Reform?

Cross-posted at CalWatchdog.

A day of extremes at the state Capitol on Wednesday led to very different budget crisis resolution angles – green jobs or tax reform? From a press conference announcing a green jobs initiative to a panel discussion about how to implement tax reform, the extremes were arresting, and even comical.

In one corner was the Democratic team, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John Perez, proclaiming their “Green Jobs Initiative,” which amounts to another group of bills that push even more state subsidized “green jobs” and “clean energy” subsidies, and includes curriculum provided to high schools to educate students and prepare them for employment in clean energy field.

In the other corner was Republican Sen. Sam Blakeslee, together with a panel of tax reform experts discussing strategies to permanently reduce the volatility of state revenues, with the goal of making California a competitive job creator. There was no hype, and no reason to persuade anyone present of the need for tax reform.

Start Of A Post-Prop. 25 Assembly

Cross-posted at CalWatchdog

Aside from the gaiety and festive mood during the swearing in of the new members of the Assembly on Monday, noticeably absent was acknowledgment of the gravity of California’s precarious financial state. Anyone observing the ceremony would never guess that this was a Legislature with dramatically low approval ratings, and facing the largest fiscal crisis in state history.

As new and old members of the Assembly entered the chambers with husbands, wives, children and friends, some were clearly awestruck with the beautiful surroundings, while others were there already working deals.

The questions on most minds involve conducting state business after passage of Proposition 25, and wondering what the majority party will do about the economic crisis in California.

Why Californians Go To Texas

Cross-posted at CalWatchdog.

When will enough be enough for California? How much longer is California going to roll over for Texas? Or North Carolina, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, Tennessee or Utah? While these wonderful states are cherry-picking our surviving businesses, state legislators are still talking about expanding entitlement programs and ways to increase taxes to cover the growing state deficit.

A recent report by the Texas Public Policy Foundation found that the “most significant competitive advantage Texas has over California is that Texas has no income tax where California has a steeply progressive income tax.”

The biggest problem for Californians is that we are taxed through our earlobes (and other parts), and it’s only getting worse.

Fueling An Agenda

In a deranged attempt to be the first state (again) to push an aggressive environmental agenda, California Air Resources Board officials grossly inflated pollution levels in air quality statistics by more than 340 percent in order to justify the agency’s radical environmental mandates and regulations.

Heads should roll, or at the very least, a public flogging should take place on the west steps of the Capitol. One state legislator wants to hold the Chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, Mary Nichols, accountable.

Prop 24: Fairness or Penalty?

Cross-posted at

It’s not so unusual to hear people making disparaging comments about
one another at the Capitol. However, it was shocking to hear the
executive director of the California Budget Project call the research
of Professor Charles Swenson, PhD, the "most error ridden, sloppy piece
of research I’ve ever seen in my life," when she referred to his
analysis of Proposition 24.

Ross testified in favor of passing Proposition 24 the initiative
that seeks to stop several business tax breaks slated to go into effect
in 2010 and 2012. The three tax policies Proposition 24 would reverse
were passed last year by the legislature.