Category: Molly Munger

May 03 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: May 3, 2012

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El Cajon Hills, California

Good Wednesday morning!

The California Legislature is in session. California Assembly and State Senate Floor Sessions will begin at noon.  Today’s schedule is here.

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s here.

California Governor Jerry Brown today takes the stage along with former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Gov. Jerry Brown joins former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today at a big-ticket Bay Area Council event in San Jose.

The 2012 Outlook Conference will look at trends affecting business, the economy and politics. Rice is speaking at 1 p.m., while Brown is scheduled to start at 3:35 p.m. sharp. Clinton’s talk is set for 5 p.m. Other speakers include the CEOs of LinkedIn, DuPont, PG&E Corp., and Kaiser Permanente.

On to today’s California headlines:

Signatures for Molly Munger’s tax plan submitted in Los Angeles

Supporters of a tax measure backed by wealthy civil rights attorney Molly Munger have started submitting the voter signatures they’ve collected in their qualification campaign.

The campaign announced late today that it is submitting 241,049 signatures to elections officials in Los Angeles County. Backers hope to submit signatures of 775,000 voters in all. Roughly 504,000 valid signatures are needed to qualify the proposal for the November ballot.

Campaign spokesman Nathan Ballard said supporters are wrapping up signature-gathering efforts this week. He said he is “optimistic” that they will hit that target.

Munger’s measure, which is supported by the California State PTA, would raise income taxes on a sliding scale on all but the poorest California workers for 12 years, with most of the estimated $10 billion in revenues going directly to schools and early development programs. A portion of the money would be used to pay down school bond debt for the first several years.

Supporters of the tax measure backed by Gov. Jerry Brown, which would temporarily hike the sales tax and increase income taxes for Californians making more than $250,000 a year, sought earlier this year to persuade Munger to drop her effort so there would not be more than one tax measure on the same ballot. That campaign has not yet announced turning in petition signatures.

Brown’s tax hike finishes signature gathering

Supporters of Governor Jerry Brown’s tax increase initiative believe they’ve got the signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot, less than seven weeks after hitting the streets.

The initiative to temporarily raise income taxes on the most wealthy and sales taxes on everyone wrapped up its paid signature gathering on Wednesday, according to Democratic political consultant Gale Kaufman, a top advisor to the campaign.

It will likely take several weeks for elections officials to verify all the signatures, collected at a brisk pace following the governor’s eleventh hour compromise with liberal activists who were originally pushing a millionaires tax initiative.

Meantime, Brown’s fall tax hike competition also made news Wednesday.

Education activist Molly Munger and her PTA allies began submitting signatures for their temporary, virtually across-the-board income tax increase to help fund K-12 schools. The independently wealthy Munger has bankrolled the entire signature gathering effort — some $7.2 million. And as she said in a March interview, she’s prepared to self-fund the entire 2012 campaign.

Even so, the Munger measure continues to fare poorly in public statewide polls, though its backers remain adamant that it’s the best choice for voters who care about school funding.

SEIU drops initiatives as part of California hospital accord

A labor union that pushed a pair of ballot measures to rein in excessive hospital billing and expand healthcare for the poor has dropped them — in exchange for an agreement that, among other things, enlists the hospital industry in the union’s organizing efforts.

The agreement, announced late Wednesday, ends a months-long public battle between the Service Employees International Union and the California Hospital Assn. Private hospitals had accused the union of using the initiative process as leverage in contract negotiations to expand its membership, a charge the union strongly denied.

Under the new pact, dubbed a Partnership for a Healthy California, the hospital association pledges to facilitate meetings between the SEIU and CEOs of hospitals and health systems employing 100,000 non-union workers. (Those hospitals, the document notes, are not bound to sign organizing agreements.) In turn, the SEIU agreed not to file petition signatures with county election officials and the secretary of state’s office.

On Wednesday, both parties downplayed the organizing component of the deal, instead painting the agreement as the product of an unprecedented partnership dedicated to tackling the most pressing issues in modern healthcare. The SEIU and the hospital assn. vowed to form a labor-management task force to find ways to lower costs, improve quality and expand access.


The End of Illegal Immigration, and its Political Implications

There are two important political ramifications to these numbers.

  •     The explosive growth in Latino voters may have already happened.  Latinos accounted for about 20 percent of the California electorate in 2010, and that percent has risen dramatically since 1994 and Proposition 187, the anti-immigrant measure.  It will probably continue rising, but not as rapidly as it has.  There are 4.5 million under 18 Latinos; they will reach voting age in the next two decades, and most are citizens and were born here.  But that may not be enough to maintain the current levels of growth of the Latino electorate, and that electorate will join the rest of Californians in growing older.  As Josh Kraushaar of the Nation Journal wrote recently, “For Democrats, the expected long-term explosion of Latino voters may not end up materializing.  While there was a significant spike in the Hispanic population at the first half of the last decade, the economic recession and tighter immigration crackdown have slowed that to a trickle.”
  •     The second is the passing of immigration as a political issue.  Michael Barone of the American Enterprise Institute recently wrote that, ”The illegal immigration problem is going away.”  Illegal immigration became a political issue because, as Barone put it, “Mexican immigrants tend to be younger, poorer, less educated and less fluent in English.  They are also more likely to be illegal.”  With this flow stopped, many observers see the political issue eventually fading away.

Enjoy your morning and Dan Walters in his Daily Video: Budget season is here

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Apr 16 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: April 16, 2012

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Venice Beach, California

Good Monday morning!

The California Legislature is in session.  Today’s schedule is here.

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s here.

There are a number of press conferences around the Capitol today.

Another presser touts legislation that proponents say will “tackle piracy, business fraud and the state’s expanding underground economy,” according to a news release.

Senate Bill 1185, by Democratic Sen. Curren Price of Los Angeles, would create a multiagency task force involving the Board of Equalization, the Franchise Tax Board, Employment Development Department, as well as the Departments of Insurance, Justice, Health, Motor Vehicles, Consumer Affairs, and Industrial Relations.

Price will join the BOE’s Randy Silva and Mira Guertin, of the California Chamber of Commerce at an “undisclosed warehouse in West Sacramento containing millions of confiscated products,” the news release says.

Meanwhile, dueling rallies abound, with the National Association of Social Workers meeting at 11 a.m. on the Capitol’s south steps. Listed speakers include Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, and Democratic Sens. Mark Leno of San Francisco and Christine Kehoe of San Diego.

Then at noon on the west steps, it’s the Tea Party United with the Citizens Reclaiming Constitutional Liberty PAC. Listed speakers at that rally include Republican Sen. Doug LaMalfa of Richvale, former Republican legislator Chuck DeVore, and Tom Del Beccaro, president of the California Republican Party.

On to today’s California headlines:

Dan Walters: Stockton not only California government in financial distress

It’s easy – justifiably so – to beat up on Stockton for spending itself into a fiscal hole so deep that bankruptcy may be its only course.

City officials borrowed and spent heavily on a baseball park, a sports arena, a marina and other facilities in hopes of resurrecting a woebegone downtown, and simultaneously boosted their employees’ salaries and fringe benefits.

At the time, Stockton was seeing a surge of sales and property taxes from a housing boom and the city’s politicians and administrators wagered, in effect, that it would go on forever.

When the bubble burst, it was left with more debts and operating costs than it could afford.

Under a new state law, Stockton is now dickering with its creditors and unions over reducing its burden, and if that fails, a bankruptcy filing is next.

However, Stockton isn’t alone.

The state’s finances are not in any better shape. Governors and legislators have consistently overspent revenue – even when the economy was booming – with chronic budget deficits the inevitable result.

Federal law does not allow states to seek bankruptcy protection, nor should it, but California is functionally insolvent nonetheless, and has amassed what Gov. Jerry Brown calls “a wall of debt” to cover its income/outgo gaps. He’s now seeking a tax increase to narrow the deficit.

Mammoth Lakes, one of the state’s smallest cities, is going through the same process as Stockton, having lost a big lawsuit, and if it can’t work out a payment plan for the judgment, it’s probably headed to bankruptcy court.

A number of school districts have been listed by the state as being in fiscal distress, some facing the prospect of state receivership. And cities large and small throughout the state, especially those that overspent housing bubble revenue, are likewise in trouble – including the largest, Los Angeles.

State Assembly races: Primaries are just a warmup

In two state Assembly races based in the San Fernando Valley, the June 5 primary election will serve as the launch of a six-month-long campaign for two incumbents.

Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield in the 45th Assembly District in the central Valley and Assemblyman Mike Gatto in the 43rd Assembly District in the east Valley, are running unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Their Republican challengers, Chris Kolski and Greg Krikorian, also are unopposed in their parties and are using the additional time to make their case to voters to oust the incumbents in November.

Response to tuition plan vexes Santa Monica College leaders

Nearing midnight and with the sting of pepper spray in the air, Santa Monica College trustees wondered how their plan to offer a selection of higher cost classes this summer had come to be so misunderstood.

For many on the eight-member panel, which includes a humanities professor, an ACLU board member and a college counselor, the plan was conceived as a progressive response to drastic state funding cuts and was intended to increase access and allow more students to graduate and transfer.

The plan, said one, was socialism in action. But just an hour before, angry demonstrators had nearly beaten down the door, hurling accusations that a two-tier pricing system would shut out low-income students and lead to privatizing public education. A campus police officer used pepper spray to stop the surging crowd.

“It’s an opportunity to make a very progressive policy, an opportunity to be Robin Hood,” said trustee Rob Rader, who summed up the frustrations of many of his colleagues near the end of the April 3 meeting.

Furthermore, he said, the successful two-year school is in an area considered by many to be a liberal bastion.

“The plan is quintessentially Santa Monica, and it’s a bitter irony to hear the criticism,” Rader said.

Enjoy your morning!

Here is Dan Walters discussing the tax initiative battle between California Governor Jerry Brown and wealthy attorney Molly Munger:

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Apr 12 2012

Flap’s California Afternoon Collection: April 12, 2012

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Lombard Street, San Francisco, California

Good Thursday Morning!

The California Legislature is in session.  Today’s schedule is here.

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s here.

On to today’s California Headlines:

FEC delays decision in Durkee embezzle case

The Federal Election Commission on Thursday raised sharp questions but came to no firm conclusion over Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s bid for greater fundraising leeway in the wake of embezzlement by her former campaign treasurer.

The punt will give the FEC more time to consider whether California politicians ripped off by former treasurer Kinde Durkee can solicit additional funds from individuals who have already reached their contribution limit.

“We’re all sympathetic to your client,” FEC commissioner Ellen Weintraub told Feinstein’s attorneys Thursday morning, “but it’s still a hard question.”

Though the commission’s legal staff had recommended rejecting Feinstein’s request, the commissioners during a two-hour hearing indicated they thought it was a close call. Several voiced concern over the potential “implications” for other campaigns of granting Feinstein’s fundraising request.

“We have to do some special thinking,” Commissioner Steven Walther said. “We’re in a tight spot, and we need to think this one out.”

Feinstein wants contribution limits be lifted following revelations that Durkee had embezzled millions of dollars from dozens of campaign treasuries. Feinstein’s campaign alone reported losing at least $4.5 million under Durkee’s scheming. The FEC’s reasoning will apply to other former Durkee clients as well, and will also be closely attended to by the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission.

Court: Managers don’t have to ensure lunch breaks

In a case that affects thousands of businesses and millions of workers, the California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that employers are under no obligation to ensure that workers take legally mandated lunch and rest breaks

The unanimous opinion came after workers’ attorneys argued that abuses are routine and widespread when companies aren’t required to issue direct orders to take the breaks. They claimed employers take advantage of workers who don’t want to leave colleagues during busy times.

The case was initially filed nine years ago against Brinker International, the parent company of Chili’s and other eateries, by restaurant workers complaining of missed breaks in violation of California labor law.

But the high court sided with businesses when it ruled that requiring companies to order breaks is unmanageable and those decisions should be left to workers.

The opinion written by Associate Justice Kathryn Werdegar explained that state law does not compel an employer to ensure employees cease all work during meal periods, instead saying the employee is at liberty to use the time as they choose.

“The employer is not obligated to police meal breaks and ensure no work thereafter is performed,” Werdegar wrote.

The court’s decision could greatly reduce the numerous class-action lawsuits surrounding the issue that cost companies millions of dollars in legal costs.
“The courts are making it clear that you have to create a system and a procedure that fully allows employees an opportunity to take breaks and meal periods, and if they do that they do not have to be Big Brother and individually monitor each employee to ensure that they’ve taken every bit of their breaks,” said Steve Hirschfeld, founder and CEO of the Employment Law Alliance, an employer-side legal trade group.

Deadly shooting revives concerns about USC’s neighborhood

It started as a typical evening for Ming Qu and Ying Wu, two graduate students from China studying electrical engineering at USC.

After a night at the library, Qu drove Wu to the house where she was renting a room less than a mile from campus. He double parked in front of the home early Wednesday morning to continue talking.

At around 1 a.m., a gunman approach Qu’s BMW and opened fire, killing both students in an attack that shocked USC and rekindled long-held concerns about safety around the university.

Qu attempted to run for help after he was shot in the head and was found collapsed on a nearby porch, police said. Wu was found shot in the chest, slumped over in the passenger seat of the car parked on a tree-lined stretch of Raymond Avenue just south of Adams Boulevard.

The students, both 23, were close friends who spent evenings chatting on the front porch of the house where Wu lived, according to police sources, who requested anonymity because the investigation is ongoing. But on Wednesday, it was raining, so police believe the pair decided to stay in the car, which friends said was a 2003 model that Qu bought for about $10,000.

Police suspect a lone assailant of carrying out the killings, but LAPD Capt. Andrew Smith said investigators had little to go on and are examining all motives, including that the gunman was trying to rob the pair. More than a dozen Los Angeles Police Department homicide detectives canvassed the area Wednesday, going door-to-door to search for witnesses and reviewing intersection cameras for clues.

USC, south of downtown Los Angeles, has long dealt with worries about crime in the neighborhoods around the campus. But in recent years, some of those concerns have eased as crime plummeted, the university expanded and some of those neighborhoods, such as West Adams, gentrified.


California senators call for a vote on Jerry Brown’s pension plan

California’s ranking Senate Republican and one of the GOP’s representatives on a special pension committee have fired off letters to Gov. Jerry Brown and their Democratic colleagues in the Legislature, calling for a key committee vote on the governor’s pension reform plan later this week.

Republicans have embraced Brown’s plan and put it word for word in two bills. Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar and Sen. Mimi Walters of Laguna Niguel on Tuesday signed the letters delivered to Brown and pension conference committee co-chairs Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Chino, and Assemblyman Warren Furutani, D-Gardena, pushing for a vote Friday when the committee meets in Southern California.

They asked Brown to “join us to demand immediate legislative action on your twelve point pension plan, which we believe represents the first steps that must be enacted to get our runaway pension system under control.”

Molly Munger puts $2 million more into California tax measure

With just weeks left to gather the signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot, civil rights attorney Molly Munger has poured another $2.15 million into her proposal to raise income taxes to fund schools.

Munger, president of The Advancement Project, is the sole financier of the “Our Children, Our Future Measure.” The proposal would raise taxes on a sliding scale for almost all California earners, routing the revenues directly to school districts and early childhood development programs.

Supporters of Gov. Jerry Brown’s rival tax measure, which would temporarily raise income taxes on high earners and increase the state sales tax by a quarter percent, have tried to persuade Munger to drop her measure to avoid confusion and mixed messaging that could arise with more than one tax hike in front of voters in November.

The Munger camp must collect roughly 504,000 valid voter signatures by to make it on the ballot. They likely need to submit those petitions signatures to elections officials by mid-May to be certified in time for the 2012 election.

Enjoy your afternoon!

And, lastly, Dan Walters explains why the City of Los Angeles may have to declare bankruptcy.

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Mar 14 2012

Jerry Brown and Teacher’s Union Reach Compromise Tax Increase Initiative Deal

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California Governor Jerry Brown speaks in front of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner plane in Long Beach, California March 14, 2012

Two tax increase mesures for this November’s ballot have been merged with one, Molly Munger’s continuing to be circulated.

After weeks of battling in public and negotiating behind the scenes, Gov. Jerry Brown and the California Federation of Teachers have reached a compromise on a November tax initiative.

The deal would result in a smaller sales tax hike and larger tax increase on the wealthy than the Democratic governor wanted. CFT had been circulating an initiative with no sales tax hike and a two-step increase on earners starting at $1 million.

“This united effort makes victory more likely and will go a long way toward balancing our budget and protecting our schools, universities and public safety,” Brown said in a prepared statement Wednesday afternoon.

The new deal would raise the statewide sales tax by a quarter-cent rather than half-cent per every dollar of purchase. It would retain the governor’s three higher tax brackets starting at $250,000 for single filers. But the last marginal tax hike – at $500,000 for singles and $1 million for couples – would increase by 3 percentage points rather than Brown’s original 2 percentage points.

The income tax hike on the rich would also last longer than Brown’s proposal, going for seven years instead of five. The sales tax hike would still expire at the end of 2016.

As I have said before, I do not think California voters are in any mood to raise taxes with the state of the economy as it is. But, the teacher’s will spin this as a small temporary sales tax and a tax the rich scheme too.

However, if Molly Munger’s initiative qualifies for the ballot, voters may still be confused and likely defeat both.

Also, good luck for the compromise initiative to pass through the Attorney General, Secretary of State and gather the necessary signatures in time to be placed on the November ballot. Governor Brown’s original tax increase initiative will continue to gather signatures as a back-up plan.

Gee, that is not confusing enough, is it?

Stay tuned….

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Feb 24 2012

California Field Poll: Millionaires Tax Out Polling Governor Jerry Brown’s Tax Increase Measure

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Today’s California Field Poll has the California Federation of Teacher’s initiative (Millionaires Tax Initiative) leading California Governor Jerry Brown’s tax measure.

Scott Lay has the summary at the Nooner.

  • CFT/Millionaires: 63% Yes, 31% No, 6% Undecided
  • Governor’s Brown’s plan: 58% Yes, 36% No, 6% Undecided
  • Munger’s tax initiative: 45% Yes, 48% No, 7% Undecided

The California Field Poll is here (PDF).

While Gazillionaire Molly Munger is also pushing a tax increase ballot measure, it is at the bottom of the totem poll. But, she has pushed some more campaign cash towards qualifying her initiative – some $750,000.

Frankly, I hope all are funded and qualify for the ballot.

Let the teacher’s unions and other leftist causes, including public employee unions thoroughly confuse the California voters enough that all three measures fail. This will be the best scenario for the California economy anyway.

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