Archive for Changing How California is Governed

As Vote Nears on Binding Term-Sheet for Sacramento Kings Arena, Sacramento City Council to Repeal an Open Government Policy for Contracts

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UPDATE: The Sacramento City Council ended up keeping the 10-day posting requirement for contracts greater than $1 million. Here’s an excerpt from the editorial Don’t Pull Back on Open Government in the March 12, 2014 Sacramento Bee:

Safeguarding open government is a constant struggle. Backsliding can happen easily if people aren’t vigilant…Yet there was a proposal before council members to kill the 10-day rule for big contracts – at least until The Bee’s editorial board starting nosing around and a local watchdog group raised a stink.

Tuesday night, the council said it would keep the “sunshine” rule, and several members spoke in favor of transparency. But even the prospect of backtracking was disturbing, and the timing was curious, to say the least. It only fed suspicions that the city is trying to ram through the downtown arena deal.

As watchdog group Eye on Sacramento pointed out in a Monday letter to council members, next month they are to consider the final financing agreement for the planned downtown arena. It’s a deal that could use as much public and media scrutiny as possible, given how important the project is for the city and how much taxpayers have at stake. Last March, the council was criticized for making a mockery of transparency by approving the current arena “term sheet” only three days after it had been made public.

The group Eye on Sacramento probably prevented the Sacramento City Council from repealing the policy without controversy. See the group’s alert letter, below.


One week before the annual “Sunshine Week” to recognize and promote open and accessible government practices, the Sacramento City Council has an item on its March 11, 2014 meeting agenda to repeal its policy that all agreements greater than $1,000,000 shall be posted on the city’s website and be made available to the public at least 10 days prior to council action (unless waived by a 2/3 vote of council).
See the staff report: Council Rules of Procedure.

The item is disguised on the city council meeting agenda as the innocuous-sounding “Pass a Resolution approving the Council Rules of Procedure.” I’ll admit looking at the agenda on Friday, March 7 but not recognizing this as anything significant. They fooled me.

The City of Sacramento did not fool Craig Powell of the watchdog group Eye on Sacramento. He sent this email to the city council and other Sacramento leaders this afternoon:

From: Craig Powell
To: Sacramento City Council and Others
Sent: 3/10/2014 3:38:40 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time
Subj: EOS Objects to Repeal of the 10-Day Sunshine Rule on $1MM+ City Contracts

Dear Mayor Johnson and Members of the City Council,

We are writing to express our strongest possible objection to the proposal before you tomorrow evening to gut the current city council rule that requires that all city contracts involving more than $1 million be posted on the city’s website and be made available to the public at least 10 days before the council takes action on such contracts.

This 10-day posting/disclosure rule is commonly known as the city’s “Sunshine Rule” and was adopted to assure that the public and the media have adequate time to review and provide feedback to you on the terms of major city contracts before you vote on them (Council Rules Chapter 7, Section E-2-d; http://sacramento.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=21&event_id=2435&meta_id=412675 ).

The council’s adoption of the Sunshine Rule has been the single most important upgrade in city government transparency in the past 20 years.

Had the Sunshine Rule been in place when the city was considering approval of its 20-year exclusive, no-bid prime garbage contract with BLT Enterprises (now Waste Management) in 2010, it is unlikely that such an unfair and grossly burdensome contract would have been imposed on hapless city utility ratepayers.  Because the Sunshine Rule was not in place at the time, the egregious city/BLT Enterprises contract was jammed through late at night during the final session of the term of the city council with zero public or media awareness or analysis.  The Sacramento County Civil Grand Jury has castigated the city for both the atrocious terms of the BLT contract and the shady circumstances under which it was approved (Grand Jury, 2011-2012 Reports, page 39; New Tab).

The proposed draft of the new council rules proposes that the Sunshine Rule apply in the future only to city labor contracts – which are already covered by the current Rule since every city union contract involves more than $1 million.  Gutting the Sunshine Rule would return us to the council’s bad old days when it all too often provided de minimis notice to the public and the media of the terms of large contracts that have a lasting and major financial impact on the city.  That is simply unacceptable.

How can you expect the citizens of Sacramento to trust the city council and city government when you are taking active steps to hide from them the details of major city contracts?  When you intentionally change the rules so you can provide inadequate public notice of the terms of major contracts you only breed public cynicism and suspicion over what it is you are trying to hide from the public.

For example, is it sheer coincidence that this move to gut the council’s Sunshine Rule is occurring just three weeks before you are set to approve a massive public subsidy of a new sports and entertainment facility, set for April 1st?  Somehow we doubt it.

There has been no showing whatsoever of any need to water down the Sunshine Rule.  The council already has a relief valve in place in cases of exigent circumstance: the council, by a 2/3rds vote, can choose to waive the 10-day posting requirement.

We can only surmise that some council members are seeking to gut the Sunshine Rule now in order to deprive the public and the media of a reasonable opportunity to review the several hundreds of pages of legal documents that will comprise the “arena deal.”  We can only conclude that you don’t want the public and the media to have adequate time to review the documents, determine the impacts and provide citizen feedback to you, their elected representatives.

If you approve this rule change tomorrow evening you will be sending a clear signal that you want to keep the public and media in the dark for as long as possible about the final terms of the arena deal and deprive them of the time needed to adequately review the final deal and provide informed feedback to the council. No council member voting to gut the Sunshine Rule could ever again creditably claim to be supportive of transparency and openness in city government.

We beseech you: please show a higher level of respect for your constituents and reject this misguided effort to gut the city’s Sunshine Rule.  Thank you.

Very truly yours,

Craig Powell, President
Phone: (916) 718-3030
cc:  Mr. John Shirey, City Manager
Ms. Shirley Concolino, City Clerk
Mr. James Sanchez, City Attorney
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Five Winning Issues for a Republican Candidate for California State Treasurer – My Article in www.FlashReport.org

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San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders began her January 15, 2014 column “Who Wants to Lose to Gov. Jerry Brown?“ with the following observation:

How near death is the California Republican Party? It’s this bad. Democrats hold every statewide office. Term limits have opened up a few offices; still, no serious Republican plans to run for attorney general, lieutenant governor, treasurer or controller this year. If the lead Democrat for any of those offices dies in September, there will be no Republican in the race to win in November.

Saunders identified two Republicans “fighting over the honor of losing to Gov. Jerry Brown,” (Tim Donnelly and Abel Maldonado, who dropped out two days later), a state senator running for Insurance Commissioner (Ted Gaines), and a public policy institute director running for Secretary of State (Pete Peterson). She also pointed out the lack of Republican candidates to challenge the weak Democrat incumbents for Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General and to run for the open seats for Controller and Treasurer.

This column inspired me to write a commentary posted on www.FlashReport.org today (January 20, 2014): “It’s Winnable! Conditions Are Ripe for a Republican to Get Elected in 2014 as California State Treasurer.” I provide five issues “for a libertarian populist-style Republican who can credibly argue to The People against crony capitalism and build a majority coalition of support from voters on the Left and Right.”

Are you such a potential candidate?

Planning for 2014: Two Recommendations in www.FlashReport.org to California Supporters of Economic Freedom and Fiscal Responsibility

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It’s too early to predict if Californians will elect more supporters of economic freedom and fiscal responsibility to Congress, statewide office, the state legislature, and local offices in 2014. It’s also too early to know if Californians are getting sick of accumulating yet more public debt through state and local ballot measures.

In the meantime, I’m trying to promote grassroots activities that might encourage Californians to do the following:

1. Consider electing government officials with a different philosophy of government than the tax-and-spend model prevalent in much of the state.

2. Better understand and scrutinize bond measures before approving educational districts to borrow money for construction (and other expenses authorized by Proposition 39, such as iPads).

See my December 6, 2013  article California Supporters of Economic and Personal Freedom Can Plan for 2014 by Thinking Locally in www.FlashReport.com.

Sources for Claims That One-Party Control and Government Taking More Money Triggered a California Comeback

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Prominent “Progressives” identify a simple way for governments to ease economic and social problems: take more money from people as tax revenue and spend it on programs and projects. And in 2013 they can cite an example that seems to conform with their ideas.

Yes, it’s California.

Below is a fairly comprehensive list of sources for this claim. Notice that many of these sources are based on the East Coast.

Reporters and columnists for the New York Times seem to be particularly knowledgeable about the political and economic circumstances of California. They have even personified the claim through Governor Jerry Brown, as if one heroic, enlightened man alone engineered a “comeback” for the state. (Governor Brown doesn’t do much to dispel the myth.)

I’m guessing that the interest of the New York Times in California’s economy and budget is based primarily on needing to tout an example that the federal government should emulate. The nation’s intellectual elite continues to be frustrated that the “New New Deal” that Progressives were envisioning for America after the November 2008 election never came to fruition. The “Tea Party” has exploited outdated structural checks and balances of the republican model of government and permitted the thinking of the Reagan Era to linger, hindering Progress.

California Comeback:
One-Party Control and Higher Taxes as a Model for Success
  1. California Beaming – commentary by Tim Egan – New York Times – March 28, 2013
  2. Lessons From a Comeback – column by Paul Krugman – New York Times – March 31, 2013
  3. California Faces a New Quandary, Too Much MoneyNew York Times – May 25, 2013
  4. California’s New ‘Problem’: Jerry Brown on the Sudden Surplus, and the FilibusterThe Atlantic – May 26, 2013
  5. The California Comeback: How Progressives Stopped California’s Decline – video of panel discussion at 2013 Netroots Nation – June 22, 2013
  6. California Shows the Country How to Overcome GOP Dead-EndersNew Republic – July 1, 2013
  7. California Resurgent Under Brown, But Spending a Worry – Associated Press – July 5, 2013
  8. California Economy is on the Comeback Trail. Can America Follow?Christian Science Monitor – July 23, 2013
  9. Brown Cheered in Second Act, at Least So FarNew York Times – August 16, 2013
  10. Jerry Brown’s Tough-Love California Miracle: The 75-year-old governor rescued the Golden State from financial ruin – and is reshaping a national progressive agenda – Rolling Stone – August 29, 2013
  11. New Rule: Conservatives Who Love to Brag About American Exceptionalism Must Come Here to California – commentary by Bill Maher – Huffington Post – September 27 2013
  12. Jerry Brown Calls Washington Gridlock Dangerous, ‘Really Sick’Sacramento Bee – October 2, 2013
  13. Sacramento Not as Dysfunctional as Washington, D.C. – column by Tim Rutten – Los Angeles Daily News – October 11, 2013
  14. California Sees Gridlock Ease in GoverningNew York Times – October 18, 2013
  15. Gov. Jerry Brown’s Advice for WashingtonLos Angeles Times – October 24, 2013
  16. California, Jerry Brown Enjoying Rave Reviews, but Comparisons Are TrickySacramento Bee – October 25, 2013
  17. While Congress Stalls, the Golden State Moves Forward – commentary by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D) – Santa Barbara Independent – November 5, 2013
  18. California Governor Brown: A Great Power Has To Find Some Unity – NPR – November 6, 2013
  19. California, Here We Come? - column by Paul Krugman - New York Times - November 24, 2013 (praise of Covered California)

After November 23, 2013

Jerry Brown’s Revenge – commentary by Tim Egan – New York Times – March 6, 2014

Palmy Days for Jerry – commentary by Maureen Dowd – New York Times – March 22, 2014

 

California Public Agencies Revert to Closed Session When Construction Unions Have a Spat Over Who Gets Taxpayers’ Money

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UPDATE (November 13, 2013): At its November 12, 2013 meeting, the board of trustees for Rancho Santiago Community College District voted unanimously to continue a practice adopted in August 2013 not to discuss its Measure Q Project Labor Agreement negotiations in closed session until the college chancellor gets legal clarification from California Attorney General Kamala Harris. An opinion from the Attorney General is not likely to be produced for several months.

Speaking in support of having the discussions in open session was Dave Everett, Government Affairs Director for the Southern California Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, and Craig Alexander of the Pacific Justice Institute. On behalf of trustee Phil Yarbrough, Alexander wrote a November 5, 2013 memo to the board explaining why discussing Project Labor Agreement negotiations in closed session was not legal.

The head of the Los Angeles/Orange County Building and Construction Trades Council was at the meeting but didn’t speak. Also silent was board member José Solorio, who is running for California State Senate in 2014 and appears to be the impetus for the Project Labor Agreement.

During his public comments, Dave Everett asked the college to identify its source for the list of local governments that have discussed Project Labor Agreements in closed session. The chancellor responded that staff obtained the list, but Mr. Everett then asked if those governments had indicated their closed session discussions on public meeting agendas. The chancellor did not know. Mr. Everett then expressed concern that the list was provided by a union lawyer based on personal experience and knowledge – not a reliable source of information for making decisions concerning a $198 million bond measure.

In addition, when the board president asked Mr. Everett if he assumed the construction plan would not move forward while the college and unions were negotiating a Project Labor Agreement, Mr. Everett responded by asking “Are they planning the projects with or without a PLA?” The board president replied “I’m not going to tell you that”  and then the Chancellor declared the exchange to be out of order.

Thank you to elected trustee Phil Yarbrough for being a champion of the people on this issue.


There are always a few “people on the fringe” who stubbornly fight for what is right after most people choose to acquiesce to the prevailing culture for their own good and the alleged “common good.” I’m told that a few aggressive opponents of the construction union political agenda are spoiling negotiations for “peace in our time” and making California’s political, corporate, and union leaders very angry.

Construction trade union lobbyists and lawyers are continuing to advance legislative strategies that will neutralize these people, described as “radicals” by one union official. These union strategies eliminate or circumvent structural checks and balances that advocates of fair and open competition use to expose and derail Project Labor Agreements and other union initiatives.

In my September 17, 2013 article in www.UnionWatch.org (California Construction Unions Circumvent Public Scrutiny of Project Labor Agreements), I reported on “the end of public deliberation and votes for Project Labor Agreements in the legislative branch of state and local governments. Instead, backroom deals are made in the executive branch to give unions control of the work.”

Now, in my November 9, 2013 article in www.FlashReport.org entitled Smoothing Over Project Labor Agreement Disputes in Closed Session: The Latest Union Scheme for “Progress” in California, I report that “In order to evade public scrutiny of government-mandated Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) for construction contracts, union officials are implementing a strategy to redirect certain discussions of this controversial issue into ‘closed session’ at board meetings of government agencies.” The board of trustees for the Rancho Santiago Community College District will discuss the legality of the practice at its November 12, 2013 meeting.

The public learned about this abuse of “closed session” through my July 23, 2013 article in www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com entitled Project Labor Agreement Negotiations Fail, Government Transparency Is Restored, Ferry Agency Resumes Fair and Open Bid Competition, followed by a July 27, 2013 article in the Vallejo Times-HeraldVallejo Ferry Hub Accord in Jeopardy.

It’s not hard to figure out what’s happening. Ultimately, the negotiation and execution of Project Labor Agreements for government projects will always occur administratively through backroom deals, without unpleasant and embarrassing public discussions and votes. The perspectives of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction, Associated Builders and Contractors, certain districts and chapters of Associated General Contractors, the Western Electrical Contractors Association, and local business and taxpayer groups will be moot.

Evading Public Accountability: Four Recent Project Labor Agreements on Government Projects Without a Vote

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In the past 12 months, government officials in California have helped to arrange backroom deals with building trades unions to require construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement as a condition of working on four publicly-funded projects.

  1. California High-Speed Rail Initial Construction Segment
  2. San Diego Convention Center Phase 3 Expansion
  3. New Sacramento Kings Arena
  4. New San Diego County Central Courthouse

Project Labor Agreements imposed on these four projects were developed under the pretense of being independent decisions of private parties within a design-build contract or public-private partnership. Elected or appointed officials of the government agencies did not deliberate or vote on these labor agreements. Yet in all four cases listed above, representatives of the applicable public agency played a key role in arranging the union deal.

For more information, see my September 17, 2013 www.UnionWatch.org article California Construction Unions Circumvent Public Scrutiny of Project Labor Agreements.

Union Operatives Infiltrate Office of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner to Push Costly and Burdensome Prevailing Wage Mandate for City Contracts

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As of today, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner says he will remain in office despite women accusing him of sexual harassment. For the mayor, this is the most damaging of several recent scandals that include a mysterious trip to Paris, a generous complimentary refurbishing of the mayor’s office reception area, and alleged demands for payments in exchange for project approval.

While some of Mayor Filner’s staff have resigned in recent weeks, other people are coming into his administration to fill the power vacuum. And who better to become entrenched in this scandal-ridden administration than union officials?

Jennifer Badgley, Director of Special Projects and Labor Affairs

Apparently the mayor has brought on a former (or current) professional organizer and political director of San Diego’s International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local Union No. 569. Jennifer Badgley has recently become the “Director of Special Projects and Labor Affairs” for Mayor Filner, according to her Linked In profile.

Jennifer Badgley – San Diego Mayor’s Office and IBEW Local Union No. 569

According to a lobbying report filed by the IBEW Local 569, Badgley had lobbied Mayor Filner and staff on a few issues during the second quarter of 2013 (April 1 to June 30), including “good green local jobs and career pathways for local workers,” Community Choice Aggregation, and “responsible construction and development,” including on the San Diego Convention Center Expansion. She also “sat in with business” concerning a “potential San Diego energy project.”

She arrived just in time! A vote at the San Diego City Council is scheduled on July 30, 2013 to adopt a union-backed ordinance proposed by Mayor Filner to require construction companies with city contracts to pay wage rates (“prevailing wages”) set by the State of California. Since 1980, the City of San Diego has exercised its authority as a charter city to issue contracts for most purely municipal projects without state-mandated wage rates, as a result saving money for taxpayers. Filner’s proposal would submit the City of San Diego to state law regarding wage rates on public works projects.

Circumstances have now allowed the mayor’s Director of Special Projects and Labor Affairs to be the coauthor of a July 16, 2013 propaganda memo to the San Diego City Council arguing why city taxpayers should pay more for construction and why the city bureaucracy should be entangled in $250,000 worth of monitoring and enforcement of cumbersome unfunded state mandates per $100 million spent on construction. Some of the highlights of this memo:

  • It disparages the city’s Office of the Independent Budget Analyst, which issued a Review of Proposal to Require Compliance with the State’s Prevailing Wage Laws on All City Public Works Projects. The review estimated a cost increase of 5 to 10 percent on projects and noted “the likely trade off in the form of higher capital project costs and the resulting impact to infrastructure programs which are a high priority for the City.”
  • It claims that the state exempts volunteers from prevailing wage requirements, but doesn’t note that the exemption has an expiration date and that certain unions have objected to this exemption.
  • It cites and provides text of the 2010 Azusa Land Partners v. Department of Industrial Relations California appellate court decision that expanded prevailing wage to certain private housing developments, but it doesn’t mention the much more relevant 2012 California Supreme Court decision in State Building & Construction Trades Council of California v. City of Vista. Unions lost this case badly when the California Supreme Court upheld the right of charter cities to establish their own policies concerning government-mandated wage rates for purely municipal contracts.
  • It reports that “staff presented this proposal to construction industry stakeholders at their quarterly meeting on June 20, 2013,” apparently through a presentation by Murtaza Baxamusa, City of San Diego, Office of the Mayor, Special Advisor for Public Policy. (See more about Baxamusa below.) The association representatives at the meeting were reportedly delighted about the proposal; of course, the groups listed as attending the meeting represent and provide contract negotiation and administration services to companies that choose to be bound under the requirements of union collective bargaining agreements. They have a financial interest in government increasing project costs.

Such an rigid approach to public policy as reflected in Badgley’s memo is consistent with her history of advancing the union agenda. In the summer of 2009, at a time when 20% of IBEW Local 569 members were unemployed, Badgley expressed pride in what she identified as her greatest accomplishment: derailing the plan of Gaylord Entertainment to build a $1.2 billion hotel and convention center in Chula Vista because the company wouldn’t sign a Project Labor Agreement guaranteeing 100% of the construction trade work to unions. A July 6, 2009 profile on the now-defunct San Diego News Network web site reported her perspective as part of an interview to reveal her “journey” as she sought to “create broader social change.”

Badgley is or was married to Tefere Gebre, the executive director of the Orange County Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, who is expected to become the next Executive Vice President of the national AFL-CIO. In 2012 he proclaimed The Truth About the Right-Wing’s Latest Scheme to Punish Workers in Costa Mesa, and in 2009 he decried “The assault on Orange County by Colorado-based zealot Eric Christensen (sic) and Supervisor John Moorlach.” Gebre caused a stir in August 2007 when he sent Eric Christen of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction a bizarre email claiming that he saw Christen “on TV as a gay whitehouse corspondent.” (sic)

Murtaza Baxamusa, Special Advisor for Public Policy

Murtaza Baxamusa used to churn out policy reports for the union-backed Center on Policy Initiatives in San Diego. He was a founder of the phony Middle Class Taxpayers Association, which advocates for union-backed initiatives that increase costs to taxpayers. In 2011 he was hired as Director of Planning and Development for the San Diego County Building Trades Council Family Housing Corporation. The San Diego County Building Trades Family Housing Corporation contributed $85,000 to the November 2012 campaign to pass Proposition Z, a $2.8 billion bond measure with a Project Labor Agreement for the San Diego Unified School District. It’s unclear if Baxamusa is still employed at the union housing corporation.

Mayor Bob Filner’s Support for the Union Political Agenda

Bob Filner, the Mayor of the City of San Diego, has long supported the political agenda of construction trade unions. Eric Christen of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction wrote in an opinion piece in Voice of San Diego on July 20, 2007 that Filner had “an almost canine affection for doing the unions’ bidding.”

In 1999, then-Congressman Filner recognized Art Lujan of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO for his leadership in the San Diego labor movement. He noted that “Art successfully secured a Project Labor Agreement with the County Water Authority resulting in over $700 million in construction projects throughout the next eight years.” This was the first government-mandated Project Labor Agreement in San Diego County.

As a member of Congress in 2007, Filner blamed Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox for the decision of Gaylord Entertainment to withdraw its proposal to build a $1.2 billion hotel and conference center on the Chula Vista Bayfront. Unions were threatening to block the project with environmental objections unless the company signed a Project Labor Agreement to build the project. Filner apparently felt that Cox should have pressured Gaylord to give the unions what they wanted.

A letter to the editor in the July 15, 2007 San Diego Union-Tribune explained Filner’s political attack:

So now the finger-pointing begins. And the show is being led by Rep. Bob Filner, who demonstrated political grandstanding at its finest by swooping in to defend the unions. How much has he been involved in this process before now? And without demonstrating any personal effort in advancing the project, how does he justify a self-appointed role as the arbiter of who did what wrong?

In 2010, Filner wrote a letter on Congressional stationery (in apparent violation of U.S. House of Representatives ethics rules) to the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce telling them to oppose Proposition G. Prop G was a “fair and open competition” ballot measure to enact an ordinance prohibiting the City of Chula Vista from entering into contracts that required construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement as a condition of work. Filner claimed that it would be a “fool’s errand” to obtain federal funding for the City of Chula Vista if voters approved Proposition G. On June 6, 2010, 56% of Chula Vista voters supported Proposition G, and Filner subsequently played the fool and continued to send federal money there.

Of course Filner supported the Project Labor Agreement that the board of the San Diego Unified School District imposed on $4.9 billion in construction (not including state matching grants) approved by voters as Proposition S in 2008 and the subsequent Proposition Z in 2012. And citing arguments from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), he wrote letters to the U.S. Department of Energy in 2009 and 2010 opposing Sempra Energy’s construction of an electricity transmission line between Mexico and San Diego County.

And notably, he recognized Murtaza Baxamura in 2012 in the Congressional Record. Now Baxamura is on his staff, pushing for government-mandated construction wage rates.

Antics and Resolutions at the 2013 California Democratic Party Convention – More Monitoring Is Needed

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My article Union Influence in the California Democratic Party’s 2013 Convention Resolutions was posted on www.UnionWatch.org on April 16, 2013. It includes a link to the actual resolutions approved by the California Democratic Party and my annotated version of the resolutions approved by the California Democratic Party, as well as my analysis of some of the union-related resolutions.

Here are some of my other thoughts about party conventions in California in 2013.

Controlling the Image: Democrats Did Good Job, Republicans Flopped

I sent this Tweet on April 13, at the end of the first day of the 2013 California Democratic Party convention:

Kevin DaytonKevin Dayton ‏@DaytonPubPolicy13 Apr

Not 1 report of inflammatory lit or remarks at California Democratic Convention. Truly they’ve evolved to a higher plane foretold in sci-fi.

Why do the California Republican Party’s semi-annual conventions constantly generate embarrassing and unflattering images to the public, while the California Democratic Party manages to minimize reports about their own oddball characters and inflammatory statements?

  • Typical answer from the Left: Republicans are old, white, backwards, and ignorant, while Democrats are diverse, progressive, educated, and enlightened.
  • Typical answer from the Right: the news media is biased against Republicans.
  • My answer: Democrats do a much better job in researching, identifying, and exposing the flaws of Republican leaders and activists than Republicans do with Democrats.

One obvious comparison is the use of social media (web sites, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

Using Twitter: Democrats Did Good Job, Republicans Flopped

Again, from my tweets during the California Democratic Convention:

Tons of critical tweets during #CAGOP convention; ZERO during CA Dem Convention. Anyone? I just tweeted against Social Impact Bond proposal.

Kevin DaytonKevin Dayton ‏@DaytonPubPolicy13 Apr

Does it matter? Stunning contrast: substantial Twitter activity from California Democratic Convention versus minimal from #CAGOP convention.

Who will analyze? Positive & negative Tweets: 3/1-3 #CAGOP convention compared to positive & negative Tweets: 4/12-14 #cadem2013 convention.

I haven’t seen an analysis produced yet by anyone, but one person claimed 3400 tweets related to the California Democratic Party convention.

steveolsonsteveolson ‏@steveolson14 Apr

there’ve been nearly 3400 tweets on #cadem13 & #cadem2013 but only 7 vines. (2 were mine) #nerdery #p2

I’m not sure there were 100 tweets in total related to the 2013 California Republican Party convention, even including the negative and oblique perspectives. It didn’t even have a standard hashtag. (Five tweets were sent using #CAGOP2013, one with #CAGOP13.)

It appears I was the only person tweeting from a critical perspective during the California Democratic Party convention. I started after I saw that California State Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and others were tweeting positive things about Steinberg’s bizarre proposed scheme for corporations to buy “Social Impact Bonds” from educational districts (Senate Bill 594), even though at the same convention there was a resolution condemning corporate involvement in school reform.

After that, I checked every once in a while for tweeted news media reports and for tweeted announcements from Democrat leaders and activities. I counter-tweeted an opposite or skeptical viewpoint when appropriate. I was alone in doing this.

Maybe there will be an organized effort next year to use Twitter to question the tax increases, new government programs, new regulations, and other intrusions on economic and personal freedom that are promoted and celebrated at the California Democratic Convention. Letting these bad ideas circulate without a response makes these ideas credible to the public.

California’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee Rejects Proposed Audit of California High-Speed Rail Project

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Nicole Goehring, Government Affairs Director of the Northern California Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, just provided me with this report (below) about Assemblywoman Diane Harkey‘s failed proposal to the California’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee (Senate web site, Assembly web site) at its March 13, 2013 meeting to audit the $68-203 billion California High-Speed Rail Project, the most expensive public works project in history.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority is requiring construction contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California as a condition of working on the first construction segment from Madera to Fresno.

Read Assemblywoman Harkey’s request for audit here: 2013-105: Audit Request of California High-Speed Rail Authority – Construction Package 1. It states the following motivation:

Ensuring that the Authority has proper policies, protocols, and resources in place to manage its contractors prior to breaking ground is critical for protecting passenger safety and controlling costs. Missteps during this early planning period could imperil the project for decades with defective construction, expensive litigation, massive cost overruns and lengthy project delays. An active and prominent role for the State Auditor during these crucial months could ultimately save lives and billions of taxpayer dollars.

The request was co-signed by numerous Republican state legislators (including Dan Logue, whose signature was added late and is not on the version linked above).

ABC Northern California Testifies in Favor of California High Speed Rail Audit in the Joint Legislative Audit Committee

From: Nicole Goehring, Government Affairs Director, Northern California Chapter, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC)

On March 13, I attended the Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC) meeting. The Joint Legislative Audit Committee is statutorily charged with ascertaining facts and making reports and recommendations to the Legislature concerning the State, its agencies, departments and political subdivisions of the State. In carrying out these duties, the JLAC reviews requests for audits from any of the 120 members of the Legislature and approves those requests that are a good use of the resources of the State Auditor.

Six audits were on the meeting agenda for consideration. The committee approved the first two audits without objection: Salton Sea Restoration fund and Military Veterans Employment. Then came Assemblywoman Harkey’s request for an audit of the California High Speed Rail Project, specifically the contracting practices authority given to California High Speed Rail Authority Executive Director Jeff Morales, risk management practices, and land acquisition for the California High-Speed Rail project.

Assemblywoman Harkey said that the California High Speed Rail Authority would spend $1.1 million per day on the project when the land acquisition starts. In addition, the California High-Speed Rail Authority still has not presented a business plan.

Senator Cathleen Galgiani and committee chairman (Assemblyman) Adam Gray objected to the proposed audit because two audits were previously approved in 2009 and 2011. They questioned what could be learned from another audit. Assemblyman Tim Donnelly spoke strongly in favor of the audit. He said the project needs a permanent chaperone and this particular use of public funds needs to be audited every step of the way.

Paul Guerrero from the Associated Professionals and Contractors of California and I spoke in favor of the audit. I also spoke against the government-mandated Project Labor Agreement that contractors must sign with unions to work on Construction Package 1. My testimony can be heard 1:17:47 into the hearing.

Speaking in opposition to the audit – and in favor of Project Labor Agreements – were Cesar Diaz from the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California; Scott Wetch representing the California Coalition of Utility Employees, California State Association of Electrical Workers, and Western States Council of Sheet Metal Workers; Keith Dunn of the Association for California High Speed Trains (representing design, engineering, and construction management firms); and a representative from Our Train: Young Voters for California High-Speed Rail.

In the end, the California Joint Legislative Audit Committee rejected (on an 8-3 party-line vote – Democrats opposed, Republicans in support) Assemblywoman Diane Harkey’s request for an audit of the California High-Speed Rail Project.

I will note that the rejection of this audit request is consistent with the comments of Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal at the February 26, 2013 high-speed rail oversight hearing claiming that there was no interest in rehashing old controversies. Supporters of the project are intent on portraying the numerous problems with the project as resolved and in the past.

Bill Introduced in State Senate to Suppress Authority of California’s Charter Cities to Establish Their Own Policies on Government-Mandated Construction Wage Rates

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California State Senate Majority Leader Darrell Steinberg issued a press release on February 19, 2013 announcing the introduction of Senate Bill 7, which would impose a financial disincentive on any of California’s 121 charter cities that establish their own policies concerning government-mandated construction wage rates (so-called “prevailing wages”). See Bi-Partisan Bill by State Senators to Require Prevailing Wage Jobs in California Charter Cities.

At least 53 of the 121 charter cities in California establish their own policies concerning government-mandated construction wage rates, with 43 of them providing for a complete exemption. (See page 18 of this guidebook and add two for Newport Beach and Bakersfield.)

Most recently, the charter city of Newport Beach established its own policy concerning government-mandated construction wage rates in January 2013, and the charter city of Bakersfield established its own policy concerning government-mandated construction wage rates in October 2012.

(For more details, see Newport Beach Is Latest California Charter City to Establish Its Own Prevailing Wage Policy: 7-0 Unanimous Vote for Fiscal Responsibility and Common Sense and Bakersfield Becomes Latest of California’s 121 Charter Cities to Free Itself from Government-Mandated Construction Wage Rates – So-Called “Prevailing Wage”)

In July 2012, the California Supreme Court (in State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, AFL-CIO v. City of Vista) upheld a longstanding practice among charter cities to use their local authority to implement their own policies concerning government-mandated construction wage rates (so-called “prevailing wages”). These policies can apply to public works projects receiving public funding only from the city or private projects receiving public assistance with monetary value that only comes from the city.

State-mandated construction wage rates can be 5%-30% higher than actual market wages in a locality, depending on the geographic region and the trade. Under current state law, the state does not conduct surveys of contractors or workers to determine “prevailing wages.” Instead, the California Division of Labor Statistics and Research collects union collective bargaining agreements, adds up all of the employer payments in the agreements (including payments to trust funds that are not employee wages or fringe benefits), and declares the total to be the prevailing wage.

The State Building and Construction Trades Council of California (an umbrella lobbying group for construction unions) detests charter cities that establish their own policies concerning government-mandated construction wage rates. Unions want all local governments to submit to state law, which imposes these political demands of unions (1) broadly define public works to encompass many private projects; and (2) calculate so-called prevailing wage rates using union collective bargaining agreements.

Construction unions have also aggressively opposed proposed charters and have recently stopped movements for charters in Elk Grove, Redding, Rancho Palos Verdes, Auburn, Costa Mesa, Escondido, and Grover Beach.

For a comprehensive, authoritative guide to the status of policies concerning government-mandated construction wage rates in California’s 121 charter cities, see Are Charter Cities Taking Advantage of State-Mandated Construction Wage Rate (“Prevailing Wage”) Exemptions?

Also, see general information about Charter Cities from the League of California Cities.

A Former Mayor of a Southern California City Provides an Intellectual Argument for City Charters and Local Government Authority

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In today’s San Diego Union-Tribune (February 19, 2013), former Murrieta Mayor Doug McAllister calls for California cities to enact charters for local home rule and protection from intrusive centralized state government. See Reasons to Consider Becoming a Charter City.

I like McAllister’s philosophical approach based on federalism. He writes the following:

One of the main debates defining the distinction between the ideological left and right is the positioning of power in governing…the left believes the power to reach that goal radiates from top to bottom, while the right reverses that flow.

Then he explains the practical policy consequences of centralized, top-down governance:

…the ability of local government to protect the best interests of its residents has been consistently undermined…Today, the ability of local cities to enhance their quality of life is at significant risk.

McAllister reports correctly that numerous general law cities in California are planning to ask their citizens to enact a charter in the 2014 elections:

Many cities in our region are serious about finding ways to protect us all from a centralized government gone wild. One avenue their leaders are seriously pondering is the possibility of becoming a charter city. Most municipalities are born as general law cities. It appears that by reorganizing as a charter city, a practice not uncommon as cities mature, not only could there be certain protections against Sacramento’s agenda, but city leaders will perhaps have significantly more tools in their economic development tool belt with which to enhance our quality of life.

McAllister also warns against a defensive, campaign-oriented strategy of trying to include too many provisions in a proposed charter to try to neutralize specific attacks (from the Left, of course) against the concept:

It is said that a camel is a horse put together by a committee. If any city wants to become a charter city, they need to avoid the temptation to build a committee-created camel, cramming protections against every contingency, real or perceived, into the charter, inviting the crisis of unintended consequences. Less (camel) is more (horse). The focus of this effort should be to see how short they can make the document, not how long.

I agree with this approach. The Left (that is, unions and every other organization that wants to centralize and concentrate political power at the state capitol) will attack a charter proposal no matter what it contains. For example, they will always cite a mismanaged charter city (such as Bell) as an example of home rule failure while ignoring solid, responsible local governance in most of California’s other 121 charter cities. (They want all cities to submit to the governance of the mismanaged state government, which they control!)

For example, see how a Twitter account portraying itself as “MOTR Politics” (Middle of the Road Politics) suggests that the bankrupt City of San Bernardino needs to repeal its charter and operate instead under the wise, steady hand of the California State Legislature:

The only way to remove personalities & politics is for SB City to follow the same laws as most other cities. http://www.sbsun.com/opinions/ci_22605107/city-charter-is-ripe-reform …

It’s possible the City of San Bernardino could actually use its charter authority to help extract itself from its financial difficulties, if its elected city council had the political will and skill to challenge public employee unions. The Manhattan Institute’s City Journal reported in an August 17, 2012 article The Problem and Promise of Charter Cities that charter authority for cities such as San Bernardino can be beneficial or harmful, depending on who is in control:

Just as charters can make cities worse, they may be able to make them better—it all depends on who’s in charge. [Mayor Patrick] Morris and some other city leaders have tried to put charter reform on the local ballot, hoping to abolish the sections that inflate city workers’ pay and empower the city attorney to battle the mayor.

Such change apparently does not appeal to MOTR Politics, which seems to favor the public employee unions that apparently absorb more than 75% of the city’s general fund, as shown by these Tweets:

SB City Police & Fire unions claim SB City has abused bankruptcy & will ask bankruptcy court for permission to sue. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/13/usa-sanbernardino-unions-hearing-idUSL1N0BCIMR20130213 …

Another group – it’s police officers – will oppose SB City’s eligibility for bankruptcy protections. http://www.sbsun.com/news/ci_22576996/police-seeking-lawsuit-against-san-bernardino …

SB City returns to U.S. Bankruptcy Court today at 1:30 PM where it will battle CalPERS. Is the city serious? http://www.sbsun.com/news/ci_22569576/san-bernardino-filing-defends-its-level-finance-department …

Instead of responding to the arguments from advocates of oppressive and intrusive government, charter supporters need to base their arguments on the benefits of local control and the need for appropriate checks and balances against a state legislature under one-party supermajority control.

For more information on why your city should enact a charter and free itself from the grip of the state legislature and the special interest groups entrenched at the capitol, see these resources:

Charter Cities – League of California Cities

Are Charter Cities Taking Advantage of State-Mandated Construction Wage Rate (“Prevailing Wage”) Exemptions?

My Article on www.UnionWatch.org: Unions Defy CEQA Reformers with Taunting Resolution

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Post on www.UnionWatch.org

Post on www.UnionWatch.org

The web site www.UnionWatch.org has posted my February 12, 2013 article entitled Unions Defy CEQA Reformers with Taunting Resolution. It reports on union involvement in a coalition to oppose changes to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

Despite their reputation as effective and extensive abusers of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to pursue economic objectives unrelated to environmental protection, California union leaders are strategically choosing to be vocal activists against CEQA reform.

Union leaders are obviously quite confident that corporate executives and the news media will hesitate to make them accountable for their practice.

…the resolution also reveals that unions know the psychology of their opponents. From their experience in union corporate organizing campaigns, union leaders recognize how business executives strive to protect their professional reputations and corporate images. The resolution is a warning to any corporate executive advocating for CEQA reform who might be tempted to explain publicly why unions oppose it.

Read more at Unions Defy CEQA Reformers with Taunting Resolution.

San Joaquin Valley Farmers Funded Their Own Destruction! November 2008 High-Speed Rail Proposition Funded in Part by Committee Supporting March 2000 Water Bond

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I’ve been researching the sources of campaign support for Proposition 1A, the November 2008 statewide ballot measure (“Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century”) that authorized the California High-Speed Rail Authority to borrow up to $10 billion by selling bonds to investors.

Not surprisingly, self-interested construction industry corporations, organizations, and unions comprise all of the top ten donors to the main campaign committee, Californians for High Speed Trains – Yes on Proposition 1A – A Coalition of Taxpayer, Business, Environmental and Labor Groups and People from Across California Tired of Being Stuck In Traffic. (See list below.)

But the #11 donor is mysterious. Something called Californians for a Safe & Reliable High Speed Rail contributed the oddball amount of $53,487.86 to the campaign to pass Proposition 1A.

Here’s the list of the top eleven donors, including in-kind (non-monetary) campaign contributions, to Californians for High Speed Trains – Yes on Proposition 1A – A Coalition of Taxpayer, Business, Environmental and Labor Groups and People from Across California Tired of Being Stuck In Traffic:

1

California Alliance For Jobs Rebuild California Committee Union-Affiliated Labor-Management Cooperation Committee

$600,000

2

International Union of Operating Engineers Construction Union

$250,000

3

Operating Engineers Local Union No. 3 (Union & PAC) Construction Union

$250,000

4

California State Council of Laborers Issues PAC Construction Union

$100,000

5

Professional Engineers in California Government (PECG) Public Employee Union

$100,000

6

Parsons Brinckerhoff Americas Inc. Construction Design/Engineering

$76,500

7

AECOM Tech Corporation Construction Design/Engineering

$75,000

8

International Union of Operating Engineers Local No. 12 Construction Union

$75,000

9

Members Voice of the State Building Trades Construction Union

$75,000

10

HNTB Corporation Construction Design/Engineering

$63,000

11

Californians for a Safe & Reliable High Speed Rail Remnant of $80 transferred from “Californians for Clean, Safe, Reliable Water – Yes on Propositions 12/13”

$53,487.86

It turns out that Californians for a Safe & Reliable High Speed Rail obtained all of its money from the leftover campaign funds of Californians for Clean Safe Reliable Water – Yes on Propositions 12/13, a committee meant to pass two statewide ballot propositions in the March 2000 election. Over the next five years, it spent some of that money on administrative fees and a few travel expenses for someone. It then terminated after transferring its remaining money to Californians for High Speed Trains – Yes on Proposition 1A – A Coalition of Taxpayer, Business, Environmental and Labor Groups and People from Across California Tired of Being Stuck In Traffic.

Here’s the historical record, in chronological order:

Californians for Clean Safe Reliable Water – Yes on Propositions 12/13 was formed in January 2000 to support two water-related bond measures on the March 2000 ballot: the $2.1 billion (not including interest) Safe Neighborhood Parks, Clean Water, Clean Air, and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2000 (Prop 12) and the $2 billion (not including interest) Safe Drinking Water, Clean Water, Watershed Protection, and Flood Protection Bond Act (Prop 13). Voters approved both statewide ballot propositions.

This campaign committee did not spend all of the money it raised. At the end of 2000 – ten months after Proposition 12 and Proposition 13 appeared on the ballot - Californians for Clean Safe Reliable Water – Yes on Propositions 12/13 still had $86,067.09.

In February 2003, the Californians for Clean, Safe, Reliable Water – Yes on Propositions 12/13 campaign committee was terminated. The leftover $80,800 was transferred to another campaign committee, Californians for a Safe Reliable High Speed Rail.

Californians for a Safe Reliable High Speed Rail appears to have been formed in the first three months of 2003, with the $80,800 contribution recorded as received on February 21, 2003. Initially, the campaign committee was making payments directly to James M. Costa for consulting and travel, as well as a $3,645.95 American Airlines bill and a $607.35 charge from the Fairmont – Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec, Canada and also a $1,321.02 charge at the Manhattan Country Club in Manhattan Beach, California. But after 2003, the money trickled away almost exclusively as fees to Olson Hagel & Fishburn LLP, a law firm that specializes in campaign and political law for Democratic Party operations in California and for many construction unions. The treasurer was listed as Charlene Chessum with an address at the Fresno zip code of 93711 and a phone number of (559) 264-3078. This phone number appears to have been related in some way to Jim Costa, and Ms. Chessum held various positions in association with Jim Costa.

In 2008, Californians for a Safe & Reliable High Speed Rail rose from dormancy and dumped its remaining funds through a contribution of $53,487.86 in June 2008 to a new campaign committee called Californians for High Speed Trains – Yes on Proposition 1A – A Coalition of Taxpayer, Business, Environmental and Labor Groups and People from Across California Tired of Being Stuck In Traffic.

Californians for a Safe & Reliable High Speed Rail was then terminated on June 10, 2008 (even though the election date for Proposition 1A wasn’t until November 2008).

The Irony: Campaign Contributions from San Joaquin Valley Farm Interests Ultimately Transferred to the Campaign to Shoot the High-Speed Rail through That Farmland

As you can see from the contributor list to Californians for Clean Safe Reliable Water – Yes on Propositions 12/13, agriculture interests in the San Joaquin Valley were a significant portion of the campaign funding for Proposition 12 and Proposition 13. The Fresno County Farm Bureau and the Kern County Farm Bureau contributed to “Californians for Clean, Safe, Reliable Water – Yes on Propositions 12/13,” along with numerous farms in Fresno, Madera, Kings, and Kern County.

The “Californians for a Safe & Reliable High Speed Rail” money bridge between “Californians for Clean Safe Reliable Water – Yes on Propositions 12/13″ and “Californians for High Speed Trains – Yes on Proposition 1A” appears to be the work of Congressman Jim Costadescribed in this July 13, 2012 Wall Street Journal article as “the project’s godfather”. An August 2003 article from the Los Angeles-based publication The Planning Report identified Costa as the “campaign chair” for Californians for Safe, Reliable High-Speed Rail.

San Joaquin Valley farmers who contributed to the campaign to pass the water bonds in March 2000 may want to ask Congressman Jim Costa why some of their money ended up in November 2008 supporting the high-speed rail project now cutting through their farmland.

Proposed Changes for the California Republican Party in 2013-2014: A Compilation of Advice from Party Leaders

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UPDATE (January 15, 2013): My post Jim Brulte’s Three Objectives as California Republican Party Chairman: Start a Party Fundraising Program, Encourage Local Grassroots Activism, Recruit Candidates Who Reflect the People of California

UPDATE (January 12, 2013): While prospective California Republican Party chairman Jim Brulte has not published any commentaries on the web about his plans, an article in the January 12, 2013 San Diego Union-Tribune (GOP Leader to Lay Out Agenda) reports a few priorities:

Brulte told the U-T the party needs to be rebuilt from the ground up, starting with wiping out a roughly $500,000 debt. He also bemoaned the fact the state party has only three full-time employees, all of whom work from their homes.

“We also have great ground operations in some areas, but there’s other places that we don’t, so we have also have to rebuild that,” he said. “And we’ll also have to redouble our efforts at recruiting candidates at the local level and training them so they have the best possible chance.”


I realized in the last week of December that California Republicans lacked a centralized web site that compiled and summarized the advice coming from party leaders about how to reverse the increasing irrelevance and ineffectiveness of the California Republican Party.

My Collection of Commentaries

As of January 14, 2013, I have found these useful commentaries on the web:

  1. Congressman Devin Nunes
  2. State Assemblyman Jeff Gorrell
  3. State Assemblyman Rocky Chavez
  4. Outgoing California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro
  5. Former California Republican Party chairman Duf Sundheim
  6. Former California Republican Party chairman Ron Nehring
  7. Former San Diego City Councilmember and San Diego Mayoral Candidate Carl DeMaio
  8. Yolo County Supervisor and professional political consultant Matt Rexroad
  9. The general counsel for the California Republican Party Chuck Bell.
  10. www.FlashReport.org publisher Jon Fleischman

Three of the commentaries were posted on the web site for Eureka, a publication of the Advancing a Free Society project of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

I was unable to locate comprehensive recommendations from Congressman Kevin McCarthy, Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway, or Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff. I’ll add these commentaries if and when they are published.

A grassroots activist in the San Francisco Bay Area named David Salaverry has written about the California Republican Party for the Fox & Hounds web site and for www.FlashReport.org. He formed a group in 2011 called the California Conservative Action Group. I don’t know Mr. Salaverry or his organization (no web sites, no Twitter accounts), but his commentaries get responses from readers, so I’ve included his recommendations below.

I would like to add commentaries from other informed and influential people - please alert me to them by using the contact form on the Labor Issues Solutions, LLC web site.

As this is my web site, I include a summary of my own recommendations at the end of this list.

Overthrowing or Supplanting the California Republican Party

Obviously some people on the Right identify party “insiders” as the source of the problem. They point out correctly that politicians and party officials sometimes yield to the temptation to pursue and maintain wealth, fame, position, power, and pleasure at the expense of principles. These party leaders sometimes compromise to make a deal, sometimes show inconsistency in their positions, and have only been mildly effective as an impediment to increased government power.

I’ll be pleased to post specific, useful perspectives from any person or party that is able to transcend the nature of humanity and be pure, yet effective, within the American system of governance. Especially useful would be perspectives from people who have actually served in elected office and experienced the consequences of holding fast to those principles.

In the meantime, I’m assuming that everyone cited below generally wants to see the Republican Party protect individual liberty and free markets and serve as a check and balance against the 150-year incremental advance of “progressivism” (democratic socialism).

ADVICE TO THE CALIFORNIA REPUBLICAN PARTY

1. Carl DeMaio: former think tank director and San Diego City Councilmember who narrowly lost the November 2012 race for Mayor of San Diego despite a horrible election night for California Republicans.

The November 16, 2012 Orange County Register published DeMaio’s opinion piece Building ‘New’ Republican Party in California. He proposed a five-point strategy:

  1. Become the party of reform (focus on fiscal responsibility)
  2. Commit to making government work again (better performance of existing programs)
  3. Move beyond “no” and offer real solutions (offer credible alternatives for governance)
  4. Become a party of inclusion (specifically address diverse groups beyond the typical older white voter base)
  5. Court the next generation (adopt to new methods of communication)

2. Matt Rexroad: Yolo County Supervisor and professional political consultant.

The December 27, 2012 Sacramento Bee published Rexroad’s opinion piece Reform GOP by Showing It Cares about People. He focuses on three ideas: acknowledging the attraction but rejecting the viability of pure libertarian philosophy, finding qualified candidates to speak on issues, and focusing on the causes and solutions to poverty from a distinctive Republican approach.

Rexroad does not see the Libertarian Party as a viable alternative for Californians interested in issues of individual liberty and freedom, because modern society wants a government that provides some security and protection from disasters, epidemics, and monopolies in commerce. He suggests the Republican Party recruit people who are “capable of actual governance” to present a fact-based, experience-based, broadly-appealing dissenting view to the Democratic Party’s idea of government. These “qualified representatives” would be ready to lead the state when voters are finally ready for an alternative kind of governance.

Rexroad cites Jack Kemp’s focus on the causes of poverty as a model for California Republicans to consider. Republicans can propose strategies to reduce poverty based on self-sufficiency, personal responsibility and government efficiency, as opposed to the Democrat strategies that tend to be based on government dependency. Such an approach would ”give Republicans the opportunity to break the stereotype that they are only for the rich.” It would also transcend “any specific language group, ethnicity, country of origin, sexual orientation or gender…It is just about people, and all people deserve more than they are currently getting from their government.”

UPDATE: On January 18, Rexroad sent this tweet, apparently in response to the national story GOP Pledges Outreach to Minorities, Women:

Matt RexroadMatt Rexroad ‏@MattRexroad

When you have a public meeting about “outreach” for your group it tells everyone what’s not currently in your group.

3. Devin Nunes – Congressman from the San Joaquin Valley, Portuguese-American dairy farmer

Nunes had his recommendations in A Reform Agenda, a Path Forward for California Republicans, posted on the web on December 6, 2012 as a commentary in Eureka, a publication of the Advancing a Free Society project of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Nunes contends that the California Republican Party (and to some extent the national Republican Party) has failed to effectively communicate a principled, yet specific ”path to prosperity” focused on individual liberty. This creates a vacuum that allows influential opponents of the Republican Party to portray Republicans in negative terms while ignoring the shortcomings of the Democratic Party (such as its failure to advance immigration reform). Nunes also notes two practical problems for Republicans: the ability of public employee unions to spend huge amounts of money on politics, and the willingness of the American people to support government programs and payments without considering the cost.

Here is Nunes’ suggested message for Republicans:

Republicans believe in the supremacy of individuals, their families, and their local communities – not the government. The government should not be revered, nor should it be expected to guarantee our happiness – it is a necessary evil that should exert authority over limited realms, especially national defense and international trade, as specified in the Constitution. Republicans oppose the centralization of power. Instead, Republicans support a republic in which power is devolved to the most local level possible. To the greatest extent, federal officials should allow states to conduct their own affairs, while both state and federal leaders should allow counties, cities, school boards, and town councils to run their own communities as they see fit.

Local control and fiscal responsibility are necessary to avoid ruinous debt on future generations. This debt is immoral and will devastate “family values.”

Nunes also sees that technological change requires the Republican Party to turn away from TV and radio advertising as the focus of its campaigns and develop localized grassroots structures. (This will not be well-received by professional consultants who make commissions off media advertising.)

Finally, Nunes lists some specific issues for California Republicans to pursue on the federal and state levels.

4. Jeff Gorell – member of the California State Assembly, 44th District (includes cities of Thousand Oaks, Camarillo, Oxnard)

The January 6, 2012 Sacramento Bee published Gorell’s opinion piece GOP Still Relevant to California’s Fiscal Future. Gorell writes that Republicans in the California State Legislature can play an important role in making sure that taxpayer money (including the new Proposition 30 tax increases) are spent (1) as voters intended; (2) efficiently; and (3) effectively. He points out that Democrats are proposing many additional tax increases, and therefore Republicans “must ensure that families, students and small businesses understand and appreciate the real-world impacts of Sacramento’s tax ideas.” He wants Republicans to promote a “rainy-day fund” if budget surpluses develop, so that Democrats won’t simply increase the size of government. And he encourages Republicans to look for opportunities to work with Governor Jerry Brown and moderate Democrats in the legislature.

5. Rocky Chavez – newly elected Assemblyman, former Oceanside City Council member

In his January 11, 2013 op-ed Reaching Out to Latino Voters through Education in La Prensa San Diego, Assemblyman Rocky Chavez expresses his concern about polling that indicates Latino voters feel that “Republicans do not respect or value the needs and interests of the Hispanic community.”

Chavez asserts that ”education reform is the best way for the Republican Party to reach out to California’s Latino community.” From his experience in education, Chavez sees that “Latino parents want their children to have access to good schools and quality teachers. They believe they should be able to choose where their children attend school, and they believe no one should be stuck in a low performing school just because of where they live…Latino families felt that transfers between school districts should be easier to obtain, and there should be greater access to public charter schools.” Chavez claims that “instead of actively campaigning on these issues, the Republican Party tends to avoid them,” even though the Republican Party has an ideological and historical foundation of educational choice and individual opportunities.

6. Ron Nehring - chairman of the California Republican Party from 2007 to 2010, chairman of the San Diego County Republican Party from 2001 to 2007, and a former board member of the Grossmont Union High School District.

In his November 8, 2012 blog post Four Areas For GOP Growth: Latinos, Organization, Training, Preparation, Nehring makes the following observations:

  1. Republicans need to better understand and discuss conditions in the home countries of immigrants. They need to support policies that can help improve conditions there, such as trade and fighting drugs. Immigrant groups aren’t fooled by trite and boring “outreach” programs with no substance.
  2. Republicans need to provide better training for their candidates in order to avoid destructive gaffes. (I’m guessing Nehring would recommend The Leadership Institute for training. So would I.)
  3. Republicans need to constantly maintain basic, data-oriented local campaign infrastructure and continually raise and spend money, instead of raising and spending big bursts of money just before elections and then throwing valuable campaign data into the trash.
  4. Republicans need to engage in direct voter contact instead of relying on phone banks.

7. Tom Del Beccaro – outgoing chairman of the California Republican Party (2010-2013)

Not running for re-election as party chairman, Tom Del Beccaro has proposed a couple of specific tactics since the November 6, 2012 election. In his December 10, 2012 Forbes magazine blog post California Republicans Need To Cooperate With Latinos On Border Issues, Del Beccaro writes that Latinos see the Republican Party as defined by immigration positions. He suggests “actually sitting down with Latino leaders in America, listening to their concerns and working out a solution to the issue” of “border violence,” that is, a solution that meets Latino’s (sic) concerns for safety and the Nation’s concerns for border security.” He also suggests the following tactic in a November 28, 2012 Forbes magazine blog post Forget the Whining, Here’s a Plan for Republicans to Seize the Agenda:

Congressional Republicans should pick out significant government programs that are not working…Then they should lay out specific cost savings from those failed programs. For the next two years, the Republicans should hold a monthly press conference on the Capitol steps wherein they explain:

  1. The original purpose of the Non-working Program
  2. Who was originally supposed to have benefited from the Non-working Program
  3. The GOP’s Reformed Program
  4. Why the Reformed Program is better for the Nation
  5. How much the Reformed Program will save taxpayers, and
  6. How many teachers per year could be saved if Democrats would join Republicans in saving taxpayers this money

Republicans should then dare the President and Senate Democrats to reject these savings. Republicans should keep the pressure on the Democrats through the alternative Media including websites and social networking where younger voters live.

8. George “Duf” Sundheim - former chairman of the California Republican Party (2003-2007)

Sundheim had his recommendations in Looking For New Ways To Lead, Under A Bolder GOP Banner, posted on the web on December 4, 2012 as a commentary in Eureka, a publication of the Advancing a Free Society project of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Sundheim sees opportunities for the California Republican Party because of voters’ widespread dissatisfaction with education and debt. He recommends broadening the Republican message beyond the traditional nuclear family. He asserts that Republicans have a compelling message for Latinos concerning education (charter school alternatives) and family-owned small business, but it instead focuses on an aggressive, harsh message against Latino illegal immigrants. He also asserts that younger voters are not that interested in criticizing homosexuals and illegal immigrants – they care more about the skyrocketing cost of education and the debt burden that governments are accumulating to be paid off by future generations.

9. Chuck Bell – longtime counsel to the California Republican Party.

Bell had his recommendations in Prescriptions for California Republicans, posted on the web on December 3, 2012 as a commentary in Eureka, a publication of the Advancing a Free Society project of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Here are his recommendations:

  1. Politically Savvy Leadership: Republicans need to pick a respected and politically savvy leader who brings credibility to the state party, so that significant Republican donors and business interests will provide funding for party operations.
  2. New Technologies to Revitalize the Base: To develop a more-effective turnout operation, the state GOP needs to engage its younger, tech-savvy generation to help build effective political networking through social media and the internet and “help train its elders how to use these tools effectively.”
  3. Bring the Message to Republican Voters in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area: These voters never hear the state and local message of Republicans anymore (as there are virtually no Republican elected officials in Congress or in the state legislature from these areas). The State GOP needs to team up with local GOP groups (such as the Los Angeles Lincoln Club and the Lincoln Club of Northern California) to focus on electing promising Republicans to local non-partisan offices and supporting ballot measures such as San Jose’s successful June 2012 pension reform measure.
  4. Thinking Strategically, More Nimbly: Two bad strategic decisions may have been most responsible for the crushing defeat of California Republicans at the polls in November: not taking advantage of the voters’ May 2009 rejection of tax increases to make a deal, and allowing Proposition 32 on the November 2012 ballot.
  5. Engaging with California’s Latino and Asian Communities: Use the Republican group Grow Elect as a model to help elect Latino Republicans to non-partisan local offices. Focus on education reforms important to Latinos. Adopt the immigration reforms supported by some Texas Republicans: temporary, renewable visas to expand the H-1B program for foreigners to fill high tech job openings and for agricultural workers and immigrants in other fields where there is a certified need for workers. Encourage a path to citizenship with the DREAM Act and for foreign nationals who serve in the military.

10. Jon Fleischman – publisher of www.FlashReport.org

On January 8, 2013, Jon Fleischman posted his commentary Jim Brulte for Chairman of the California Republican Party on his www.FlashReport.org web site. Fleischman writes that Brulte, a former Republican leader of the California State Assembly and Senate, is a “solid conservative,” a “stalwart Republican” and has “conservative credentials” – including a voting record - on positions concerning “taxation and regulation, freedom and liberty, the sanctity of human life, or the importance of the traditional family.” Fleischman notes that Brulte has a “track record as a smart politico with a knack for winning elections,” and that Brulte does not believe “Republicans are losing market-share in California because of these policy positions, but rather how we communicate our positions, and of course how we engage in the science of politics.” Fleischman also vouches (from personal experience) for Brulte’s character.

Fleischman also lists some of the challenges for the California Republican Party:

  1. Democrats get an endless fountain of campaign funds, courtesy of public employee unions.
  2. The number of taxpayers is shrinking while the number supported by government grows.
  3. California’s growing “ethnic communities” are not inclined to vote Republican.
  4. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger compromised the Republican image with his support for tax increases, more regulation, and growth of state government.
  5. The California Republican Party has been dysfunctional for many years, with internal problems related to divergent interests of chairmen and distrust between major donors and grassroots activist leaders.
  6. While “Vast sums of money” have flowed through the California Republican Party for the purposes of trying to win elections, that money has not been used to build a permanent campaign structure (as developed by the Democrats, unions, and the Obama presidential campaign).

Editor’s note: One of the comments posted in response was from a committed Republican activist who asks “Is he a Conservative or Left-leaning R? I will only support Conservative R’s because the LL R’s have thrown Conservatives under the bus for the last time.” It’s great to be passionate, but the Facebook work identification for the poster is “Stop Compromising and Start Impeaching!” Will public proclamations from Republican activists to impeach President Obama restore the credibility of the California Republican Party among ordinary voters?

11. David Salaverry – grassroots activist from Berkeley and a small business owner (cabinetry); redistricting activist; founder of California Conservative Action Group.

In his November 20, 2012 Fox & Hounds article Remedies for the CA Republican Party, David Salaverry makes five recommendations:

  1. Elect a smart, capable, dedicated woman as state party chair.
  2. Make the party more appealing for Latinos by distancing itself from strong critics of illegal immigration, develop a conservative Hispanic talk radio, and get Latino Republicans elected to local office. Salaverry expands on these ideas in his January 9, 2013 www.FlashReport.org op-ed The CRP and Latinos, A General Staff Proposal.
  3. Discourage religious conservatives from using the Republican Party as a political agent to fight against the immoral secular culture.
  4. Turn away from policies focused on imprisonment of non-violent offenders, and try to reform unfairness in the judicial system that work against the poor and minorities.
  5. Speak to all young people about education and debt issues – don’t limit the message to the traditional stereotypical Young Republicans.

12. Kevin Dayton – President & CEO of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC

On November 26, 2012, I posted A Proposed Strategic Plan for the California Republican Party in 2013-2014. In addition to recommending How Conservatives Can Win in Blue-State America: Lessons from South Africa’s Opposition, I classified my ideas into four categories:

  1. Promote a Specific Alternative Program of Governance: How Republicans Would Govern California Differently Than Democrats (this includes a specific twelve-point agenda)
  2. Establish or Cultivate a California Intellectual Policy Center (Think Tank)
  3. Expand Republican Speech – Overhaul the Use of Web and Social Media
  4. Focus on Federalism: Local Government Should Serve as the Base of Opposition

[Additional commentaries to be added here!]


Other Recent News Articles on California Republican Party Travails, Hopes, and Plans

Jim Brulte’s Path Now Clear to be California Republican Party LeaderSan Francisco Chronicle (blog post by Joe Garofoli) – January 9, 2013

A Grim GOP Ponders Sparse Registration, Donors’ DoubtsCapitol Weekly – December 20, 2012

YOU Can Help Advance a Specific, Defined Plan to Defend Economic and Personal Freedom in California in 2013

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You’re Not Alone in California (Although It May Feel Like It Right Now) If You Answer YES to These Three Questions:
  1. Are you concerned about how the State of California and its regional and local governments excessively interfere with commerce and inappropriately intrude on your household affairs?
  2. Are you looking for someone with a specific, defined plan to hinder some of the costly utopian dreams and schemes of elected and appointed officials in what is now essentially a one-party state?
  3. Do you seek pro-active opportunities to make financial contributions or provide advisory support in the quest for economic and personal freedom, without squandering your money or time on professional firms that are parasites on the conservative/libertarian movement? 
Consider Financial Sponsorship or an Advisory Role for a Specific Piece of the 2013 Strategic Plan for Labor Issues Solutions, LLC:

I have more than 15 years of experience in California opposing, deterring, and often stopping the political agenda of special interest groups that see ordinary taxpayers as an easy victim.

I focus on the unglamorous grunt work of research, analysis, strategy, and implementation. You won’t read flattering profiles about me in the Sacramento Bee or Los Angeles Times, but you can read about my recent work via links on my home page and in my 220 comprehensive Dayton Public Policy Institute blog posts written during the past eight months.

In 2013, I’ll be testing the potential of neglected checks and balances in our federal, state, and local constitutions to derail plots for more government control of your money, your business, and your lifestyle.

Obviously there isn’t much market demand in California right now for advocates of free markets and minimalist government. PRINCIPLES motivate me in my vocation.

None of the items in my 2013 strategic plan (below) involve professional campaign consultants. Labor Issues Solutions, LLC is efficient, nimble, and frugal.

My 2013 Strategic Plan for Labor Issues Solutions, LLC
I. Exercising the Power of City Charters: A Check and Balance Against the State
  1. Encourage and help California cities to ask their citizens to enact charters that free municipal affairs from costly state mandates.
  2. Encourage and help California’s 121 charter cities to maximize their potential to circumvent costly state mandates and control their own municipal affairs.
  3. Develop and circulate a model charter more aggressive than any charter now in existence.
II. Improving Accountability of Government to the Taxpayers
  1. Help educate Californians about bond measures and how they authorize governments to borrow money that must be paid back – with interest – to investors. Emphasize the dangers of Capital Appreciation Bonds.
  2. Offer assistance to improve professionalism and collaboration among California’s legitimate regional and local taxpayer groups.
III. Exposing Crony Capitalism Run Amok in California

Research, compile, and expose the following:

  1. All financial contributions to campaigns to pass K-12 school district and community college district construction bond measures, in a presentation that is accessible and understandable to ordinary citizens, since the passage of Proposition 39 in 2000 reduced the voter approval threshold to 55%.
  2. All assessed financial transaction fees for the sale of bonds by K-12 school district and community college districts, in a presentation that is accessible and understandable to ordinary citizens, since the passage of Proposition 39 in 2000 reduced the voter approval threshold to 55%.
  3. All private and government financial contributions and expenditures to support the campaign for the California High-Speed Rail, in a presentation that is accessible and understandable to ordinary citizens.
  4. All sources of campaign contributions to state and local elected officials during the past ten years, in a presentation that is accessible and understandable to ordinary citizens.
IV. Revealing the Astonishing Debt for Future Generations of Californians to Pay Off

Research, compile, and expose the following:

  1. The total amount of bond debt for California’s K-12 school district and community college district construction bond measures, in a presentation that is accessible and understandable to ordinary citizens.
  2. The total amount of all debt for the state and all 5000+ local governments in California, in a presentation that is accessible and understandable to ordinary citizens.

V. Documenting the Exploitation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for Purposes Unrelated to Environmental Protection

Research, compile, and expose the following:

  1. Law firms, organizations, and individuals that abuse CEQA in pursuit of economic objectives.
  2. Common strategies used to abuse CEQA.
VI. Improving the Accuracy of State-Mandated Construction Wage Rates (“Prevailing Wages”)

File petitions with the California Department of Industrial Relations to do the following:

  1. Clarify the accuracy of prevailing wage determinations.
  2. Adopt regulations clarifying the procedure for prevailing wage determinations. 
VII. Establishing a New Free Market Think Tank Oriented Exclusively for Californians
  1. Promote a think tank with a vision statement similar to this: The people of California will enjoy unprecedented prosperity and peace because they recognize, seek, and act to implement a proper role of government as minimal, non-intrusive, and fully accountable and transparent to the people when engaging in its limited functions.
  2. Promote a think tank with a mission statement similar to this: Recognizing that all significant events in history are a reflection of intellectual ideas, the Institute will educate the people of California to understand that a prosperous and peaceful state depends on a proper conception of government as minimal, non-intrusive, and fully accountable and transparent to the people when engaging in its limited functions.
How to be a Financial Sponsor of an Item in the 2013 Strategic Plan:

1. Make out a check to Labor Issues Solutions, LLC.

2. Choose the item in the 2013 Strategic Plan (above) and indicate in the check memo line. I will email and call you with regular updates on my progress with your chosen item.

3. Mail to the following address:

Kevin Dayton
President & CEO
Labor Issues Solutions, LLC
3017 Douglas Blvd., Suite 300
Roseville, CA 95661-3850

4. Note: a contribution to Labor Issues Solutions, LLC is not tax-deductible. It is a payment for services.

5. Questions: contact Kevin Dayton at (916) 439-2159 or via the contact form here.

How to Have an Advisory Role for an Item in the 2013 Strategic Plan

1. Do you have special interest or expertise in one of the items in the 2013 strategic plan? Would you like to help Labor Issues Solutions, LLC to fulfill this plan?

2. Would your organization enjoy a presentation about one or more of the items in the 2013 strategic plan? 

3. If so, contact Kevin Dayton at (916) 439-2159 or via the contact form here.