As interest groups await State Senator Michael Rubio’s introduction of his bill to revise the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), it’s becoming clear that this reform, as introduced, will not hinder the CEQA exploitation strategies used by California Unions for Reliable Energy, regional building trades councils, and individual unions to block proposed projects until the project owners commit to labor agreements or other economic concessions.
Despite not quite having one-third control of the California State Assembly and State Senate, Republicans may be able to influence CEQA reform and add appropriate and meaningful provisions that end union abuse of CEQA for purposes other than environmental protection.
My commentary Republicans Have Opportunity to Broaden CEQA Reform was published on February 1, 2013 in www.FlashReport.org. Here is a summary of my recommendations:
An Ideal Republican Response: Analyze Before Praising and Demand Real Reform
Considering that Senator Rubio may be able to ride on his leadership in CEQA reform to future statewide office, and considering that environmental groups may convince some legislative Democrats to oppose any CEQA reform, how should Republicans use their potential political leverage in response to Senator Rubio’s specific proposal?
When he actually introduces the bill, Republicans should refrain from immediate praise and support. Instead, they should take the time to analyze it, line-by-line, to determine if such language would have been effective in discouraging notorious union CEQA threats against projects such as Gaylord Entertainment’s now-abandoned Bayfront Hotel and Conference Center in Chula Vista or the San Diego Convention Center Expansion Phase 3, for which hotel and construction unions dropped CEQA objections after obtaining commitments for union monopolies in employment.
If Senator Rubio’s bill does nothing but suppress the simple CEQA complaints of elderly long-time California residents who are upset about an apartment complex proposed for their rural community, Republicans should resist the corporate pressure to vote for it anyway as pro-business “CEQA reform.”
Instead, Republicans need to ensure that Senator Rubio’s CEQA reform proposal discourages ALL parties that exploit CEQA for purposes unrelated to environmental protection, including unions that engage in “greenmail” to coerce labor agreements or other economic concessions from project applicants.
Without a coordinated caucus strategy, individual Republicans in the legislature will adopt their own strategies about planning and portraying their relevance in CEQA reform. If assessments are accurate such as the anonymous February 5, 2013 commentary in www.FlashReport.org entitled Sacramento Syndrome: Republicans Accept Their Status as the Political Hostages of Big Business, some Republicans may greet the Rubio proposal with instant enthusiasm, rather than appropriate skepticism and public attention to its shortcomings.
Phony Tree Huggers Are Abusing CEQA…CEQA Needs To Be Updated!!! – “Monday Morning Quarterback” bulletin of Associated General Contractors of San Diego – by Jim Ryan, Executive Vice President – February 4, 2013
Republicans Have Opportunity to Broaden CEQA Reform – www.FlashReport.org – op-ed by Kevin Dayton – February 1, 2013 (reprinted on the Families Protecting the Valley web site)
Senator Rubio’s CEQA Reform Gives Unions a Free Pass – Sacramento Bee – letter to the editor by Kevin Dayton – January 30, 2013
Rubio’s Interest in CEQA Reform Turns Out to Be Highly Selective – Bakersfield Californian – op-ed by Kevin Korenthal of KOREN Communications – January 29, 2013 (Kevin Korenthal was a guest on the Ralph Bailey Show, KNZR 1560 AM in Bakersfield on February 7, 2013 to talk about Senator Rubio’s CEQA reform and union greenmail.)
Rubio Would Gut CEQA for Public, but Not Touch Unions – Sacramento Bee – letter to the editor by Tim Bosley – January 20, 2013