October 12, 2011 archive

Marty Wilson Heading Over to the California Chamber of Commerce


Marty Wilson

A good acquisition for the California business community.

The California Chamber of Commerce is beefing up its political team ahead of the 2012 elections, hiring veteran GOP strategist Marty Wilson to lead its campaign operations.

Wilson, who recently served as a top strategist for Republican Carly Fiorina’s 2010 U.S. Senate bid, has left his day job as founding partner of Wilson-Miller Communications to become CalChamber’s vice president of public affairs.

CalChamber CEO Allan Zaremberg said in a statement that Wilson will “play a key role in CalChamber’s focused efforts to identify and support pro-jobs candidates from both political parties who will work to improve California’s economy.”

Marty has been involved in California politics for decades. He will bring an experienced and energetic approach to the California business community and their dealings with California government.


Flap’s California Afternoon Collection: October 12, 2011


Avalon, Catalina Island

An afternoon collection of links and comments about my home, California.

California is becoming ‘post-industrial hell,’ economist says

Since the recession began, times have been tough in California – everybody knows it. The economy is in a protracted stall.

But it took economists at California Lutheran University’s Center for Economic Research and Forecasting to describe, in hyperbolic language, the depth of the problems that have beset the Golden State since the stock market started to tank in the summer of ’08.

“California,” writes center director Bill Watkins, “is fast becoming a post-industrial hell.”

That’s true “for almost everyone except the gentry class, their best servants and the public sector,” he writes.

In an essay and accompanying PowerPoint, Watkins sketches his portrait of Lotus Land as Hell on Earth by citing a series of post-recession economic statistics, many familiar, all of them sobering:

  • The state’s unemployment rate seems stuck at 12 percent, higher than the national average, and the state is still shedding jobs.
  • The poverty rate is 16.1 percent, also slightly higher than the national average, and maybe 10 points higher when adjusted for the high cost of living.
  • Fresno and San Bernardino are among the 10 poorest large cities in the U.S. With a 34.6 percent poverty rate, San Bernardino is the second-poorest U.S. city, after famously troubled Detroit.

Other economic indicators give a grim readout as well, according to Watkins. Wages are down. Since the recession began, the value of the average California home has dropped by about $90,000. About 3 percent of all home mortgages are in foreclosure.

And while 150,000 California students get their college diplomas each year, the state is creating only about 50,000 jobs for people with college degrees, he writes.

And so, middle-class people are bailing out. “Domestic migration has been negative for a decade,” Watkins writes, and the state is attracting fewer legal immigrants from abroad.

To top it off, Watkins complains of problems with the state’s schools and highways, its brutally gridlocked traffic, and even the reliability of the water supply.

“California’s future is pretty grim, until Sacramento takes off the blinders,” he writes.

Unemployed Californians face benefit losses

Nearly 1.8 million jobless Americans could lose their unemployment insurance benefits at year’s end unless Congress approves the president’s proposal to reauthorize the federal program through 2012, said the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group known as NELP.

California leads the other 49 states with 305,400 unemployed people facing a cutoff.

About 70,600 would see their 26 weeks of regular, state-paid checks run out. Another 122,500 would stop getting federal emergency unemployment compensation, and 112,300 immediately would lose special, extended federal benefits.

Other states with large numbers of people on unemployment insurance include Florida, New York, Texas and New Jersey.

On Tuesday, NELP released a report called “Hanging on by a Thread,” warning that a cut in unemployment benefits would damage workers, business owners and the U.S. economy.

“For millions of out-of-work Americans hanging on by a thread, unemployment insurance is the only thing preventing a free-fall into destitution and despair,” said Christine Owens, executive director of NELP.

“For struggling businesses and the halting economy, unemployment insurance is what’s preserving consumer spending at a moment we need it most. Withdrawing this crucial stimulus would likely tip the nation back into recession.”

Herdt: When private-sector socialism fails

Brown’s signing of the autism-coverage mandate bill means that insurers will have to begin covering the therapy next year. The California Health Benefits Review Program, run by University of California researchers, concludes the added cost to insurers will be $93.3 million, which would result in insurance premium increases of from 0.14 percent to 0.24 percent.

The California Association of Health Plans projects a far higher cost of $850 million.

Whatever the cost, it will have to be borne because it is part of the collective contract upon which insurance is based. People protect against risks by paying into a collective pool, then tap into the pool if they are unfortunate enough to suffer from an accident, disease or disability.

The model of private-sector socialism just doesn’t work when one party regularly cashes the monthly checks from the other, then arbitrarily decides it doesn’t have to uphold its part of the bargain.

Gov. Jerry Brown is giving unions most of what they seek

When the dust settled on Gov. Jerry Brown’s first legislative session in nearly three decades, no group had won more than organized labor, which heralded its largest string of victories in nearly a decade.

At the urging of the food workers’ union, Brown agreed to crack down on the use of automated checkout machines in grocery stores. At firefighters’ request, he approved new restrictions on local governments seeking to void union contracts. He guaranteed wages for workers in public libraries that are privatized — a bill sponsored by another labor group.

Those unions and others helped bankroll Brown’s campaign last year.

Brown has long compared governing to steering a canoe — you paddle a little on the left, he says, and a little on the right. And indeed, he signed some measures desired by key interest groups this year while vetoing others.

Labor was no exception: He rejected a proposal to unionize tens of thousands of child-care workers, a measure to hamper new development by big-box retailers such as Wal-Mart and one to limit fees that banks can charge on workers who use company pay cards — debit cards issued by employers instead of paychecks.

But in the end, no group scored as much as labor. Brown embraced much of its wish list, an agenda his predecessor had thwarted.

“Finally, after seven long years of [Gov. Arnold] Schwarzenegger, we’re moving in the right direction again,” said Steve Smith, a spokesman for the California Labor Federation.

Enjoy your afternoon and evening!


Dilbert October 12, 2011 – Working Late


Dilbert by Scott Adams

Probably not so much, boss…..

California Cities Warn of Public Safety Crisis Over Prison Realignment


An inmate talks on a phone in Los Angeles County Men’s Central Jail in downtown L.A.

This complaint is all about money for the cities, but California Governor Jerry Brown is going to live to regret this massive policy shift.

As California begins redirecting new inmates and parolees to counties this month, nine big-city mayors are asking the cash-strapped state for money to address a “brewing public safety crisis.”

The mayors, including Sacramento’s Kevin Johnson and Los Angeles’ Antonio Villaraigosa, contend in a letter they sent Thursday to Gov. Jerry Brown that his “realignment” plan will result in higher police costs. Villaraigosa led the charge earlier last week by calling the program “political malpractice” and saying his city needed to move 150 police officers to help the probation department supervise offenders.

The mayors have asked Brown for “an immediate guaranteed funding stream for city-related realignment costs.” Cities also want funding as part of a November 2012 ballot initiative being considered by the governor to enshrine realignment dollars in the state constitution, said Villaraigosa spokeswoman Sarah Sheahan.

“On behalf of millions of Californians who reside in our cities, we respectfully request your immediate attention to a brewing public safety crisis that could threaten the success of the recently-launched realignment program,” the mayors’ letter states. “As a result, we believe the safety of our cities could be at risk.”

Jerry Brown’s state budget was a “rosey scenario” and not based in reality. Under a federal court mandate to relieve state prison crowding rather than try to raise taxes, cut spending in other areas, or let a bunch of criminals out of prison and county jails, Brown derived this scheme.

It won’t work and will cost the cities and counties much more. This plan is nothing but a shell game with Brown shifting state costs to local governments who cannot pay for them.

So, what does this mean?

More criminals on the streets and a less safe California.