Archive for Lawsuit Abuse by Unions

Union Sues ObamaCare Program in California to Axe Kaiser Permanente from List of Twelve Qualified Health Plans

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On August 7, Covered California – the program of the California Health Benefit Exchange established by the California Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to implement the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) – announced that it had executed agreements with twelve insurance companies in its market for individuals.

But wait! On September 4, the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) sued the California Health Benefit Exchange for the purpose of disqualifying Kaiser Permanente from participation in the program. (See National Union of Healthcare Workers v. California Health Benefit Exchange.) Of course, the lawsuit against Kaiser isn’t really about health care: it’s about union organizing.

There has been surprisingly little news coverage of this lawsuit, with the Sacramento Business Journal being the only news source with firsthand reporting on it. (See “Union Seeks to Block Kaiser from Health Benefit Exchange.”) Perhaps the topic is too complex or obscure, or perhaps news organizations are hesitant right now to show weaknesses in ObamaCare.

However, I reported on the lawsuit in my September 10, 2013 article in www.UnionWatch.orgUnion Files Lawsuit Exploiting ObamaCare in California for Organizing Purposes. I introduce the article by directing readers to “Add ObamaCare to the list of laws that California unions are exploiting for ‘corporate campaign’ strategies to coerce labor agreements or exert pressure during labor disputes.”

Highlighting the Top Union Abuses of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA): My Latest Article in www.FlashReport.org

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FlashReport 2013-02-19I continue to see news articles and commentaries about reforming the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) that do not mention labor unions as practitioners of “greenmail,” that is, objecting to proposed projects and activities on environmental grounds to achieve economic objectives unrelated to the environment (such as Project Labor Agreements).

My article today in www.FlashReport.orgHighlighting the Top Union Abuses of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), reports that journalists, political columnists, and opinion writers are more frequently referring to union CEQA abuse. In addition, I provide extensive documentation (with hyperlinks to primary source documents) for the top union CEQA objections in 2012 and 2013.

My top pick for the worst CEQA abuse of 2012 was against the San Diego Convention Center Expansion Phase 3 – see www.SanDiegoConventionCenterScam.com for more information.

My top pick for the worst CEQA abuse of 2013 (so far) is against two proposed geothermal power plants in Mono County – see www.PhonyUnionTreeHuggers.com for more information.

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction Asks How “Pretend Reform Can Become Real Reform” of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

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There are a few Californians who read my February 1, 2013 www.FlashReport.org article Republicans Have Opportunity to Broaden CEQA Reform and agreed with it. Not surprisingly, the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction – long familiar with how unions exploit the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to get Project Labor Agreements – expressed its support for my proposed strategy to Republicans in the California State Legislature and called my article “a must read for real reformers.”

Californians should NOT settle for a weak CEQA reform that only targets inconvenient and pesky little neighborhood community groups. It needs to target the true professional greenmailers.

Here’s an excerpt from the February 12, 2013 Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction PLA Update, a weekly emailed bulletin:

CEQA Reform Update: Union-Dominated California Legislature Continues with Pretend Reform

Union boss abuse of the landmark California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) has been highlighted by CFEC and our allies for more than a decade. Such abuse has forced projects to be delayed or stopped altogether costing workers and our economy billions in lost wages and revenue.

The abuse of CEQA, undertaken solely by trade unions and their lap dogs in the radical “environmental” community, has now forced a few in the legislature to pretend they can fix a problem they cannot even bring themselves to admit the cause of for fear of offending their union masters.

The latest on this pretend legislation comes from many different perspectives, all of which is good as it makes sure this issue remains in the public spotlight.

Recently the Pasadena Star-News ran this piece (which must have been hard for them) admitting that reform is needed and that unions are one of the reasons why. The California Business Properties Association [on behalf of the CEQA Working Group – ed] published this embarrassing item throwing support behind “moderate reform” of CEQA. And the Santa Cruz Sentinel ran this editorial on the issue.

How can this pretend reform be turned into real reform?

Labor Issues Solutions’ Kevin Dayton explains how exactly this can be accomplished in this excellent piece, which is a must read for real reformers.

In the meantime we had last week just the latest example of how this law is being abused and why real reform is needed. The UT San Diego ran this story highlighting the love fest that took place at the California Coastal Commission’s recent board meeting where union bosses and “environmentalists” praised the approval of a new hotel in San Diego. Why the praise for a project they had both opposed for years? You guessed it: Their greenmail resulted in the owner caving and the project being built with a PLA (the owner having to admit the PLA would add $17 million to its cost).

Thus another lesson in exactly why it is California is ranked as the 51st best state to conduct business in. (Yep, even Puerto Rico beats us out.)

I’m eagerly awaiting the introduction of the CEQA reform bill to see how the Assembly Republican Caucus and Senate Republican Caucus respond to it. What strategy will they adopt on an issue for which they have some leverage because of a divided Democrat supermajority?

Dueling CEQA Coalitions:

CEQA Working Groupbusiness groups that support CEQA reform.

CEQA Worksenvironmental groups and labor unions that oppose CEQA reform.

Phony Union Tree Huggers – very sensitive topic strictly off-limits for both coalitions.

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.

California Republicans Need to Ensure That Unions Don’t Evade California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Reform in 2013

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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.

As a guide, Republicans may want to look at concepts proposed in past CEQA reform legislation such as Senate Bill 628 (2005), Senate Bill 1631 (2008), and Assembly Bill 598 (2012).

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.

Opinion Pieces:

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 Reformwww.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 PassSacramento Bee – letter to the editor by Kevin Dayton – January 30, 2013

Rubio’s Interest in CEQA Reform Turns Out to Be Highly SelectiveBakersfield 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 UnionsSacramento Bee – letter to the editor by Tim Bosley – January 20, 2013

Lead Democrat for “Reform” of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Never Mentions Unions as the Major Instigator of CEQA Abusewww.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – January 14, 2013

Unveiled: New Website SanDiegoConventionCenterScam.com Exposes Truth Behind San Diego Convention Center Expansion Phase III

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The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction emailed the following press release this morning (January 16, 2013) about an ambitious effort to untangle, organize, and expose questionable actions to the public regarding the planned San Diego Convention Center Expansion Phase III. It’s a web site:

www.SanDiegoConventionCenterScam.com.

I’ve written extensively on how construction unions and hotel/hospitality unions abused the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to win a Project Labor Agreement and other labor concessions for this project. I even spoke at the September 19, 2012 meeting of the Board of Port Commissioners for the United Port of San Diego and revealed during public comment why unions had so many environmental objections to the proposed project (which they now eagerly support as a result of a subsequent deal.)

January 16, 2012

Contact: Eric Christen
(858) 431-6337 

WEBSITE DEDICATED TO EXPOSING WASTEFUL AND FRAUDULENT NATURE OF SAN DIEGO CONVENTION CENTER EXPANSION

From Rigged Bidding Process Intended to Give Unions Monopoly Building “Agreement” to Unanswered Environmental and Funding Questions Website Covers What Others Have Failed To

 

San Diego, CA – Today the website www.sandiegoconventioncenterscam.com was unveiled. This website is dedicated to exposing the waste, fraud, and abuse that underlies almost every aspect of this $600 million boondoggle. The website features groundbreaking exposés on every aspect of this project, most of which have received little if any attention from the media or anyone else in San Diego.

Among the issues covered by the website:

  • Is the convention center expansion really even needed?
  • Who is running this thing?
  • Who will pay for it and how?
  • How did the unions get a monopoly Project Labor Agreement (PLA) on this project?
  • Are environmental concerns being ignored?
  • Was the bid process that chose the general contractor rigged?
  • And much more

“When we began looking into this process we had a certain set of presuppositions regarding what this was really about,” said Eric Christen, one of the individuals behind the website. “But what we came away with was an understanding that this process is utterly corrupt through and through and is nothing more than a scam designed to enrich a few while sticking it to the vast majority of citizens, taxpayers, and workers of San Diego. It is shocking.”

The website will be regularly unveiling information intended to keep San Diego citizens and taxpayers up to date on this $600 million scam.

###

Website Dedicated to Exposing Wasteful and Fraudulent Nature of San Diego Convention Center Expansion – San Diego Rostra – January 16, 2013

Lead Democrat for “Reform” of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Never Mentions Unions as the Major Instigator of CEQA Abuse

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UPDATE: The January 28, 2013 Sacramento Bee has a profile of Senator Michael Rubio in the context of his campaign to reform the California Environmental Quality Act (Moderate Michael Rubio Takes on California’s Environmental Law):

State Sen. Michael Rubio says he first wondered if something were wrong with California’s environmental review law during his days as a Kern County supervisor, when he saw it used to slow wind and solar projects he considered green by their very nature…he said he was “shocked” to see projects that could improve the environment and public health “delayed significantly by misuses and abuses of a wonderful statute.”

As you might expect, Rubio says nothing about how construction unions used CEQA to try to force a Project Labor Agreement on the Big West/Flying J refinery modernization in Bakersfield (see below) or on Recurrent Energy solar projects in Kern County.

Also, a January 20, 2013 letter to the editor of the Sacramento Bee responds to Rubio’s January 13, 2013 op-ed by noting that Rubio Would Gut CEQA for Public, but Not Touch Unions.


For more background on CEQA reform, see my three articles A First Crack at Analyzing the Proposed CEQA Reform: “The Sustainable Environmental Protection Act” of 2012CEQA Reform is Over for This California Legislative Session: Sustainable Environmental Protection Act May Return in 2013, and Looks Like CEQA Reform Talks Are Underway…Good Luck People.


State Senator Michael Rubio (D-Bakersfield) is the leading voice in the California State Legislature for amending the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to prevent people from using CEQA to block projects for reasons unrelated to environmental protection. (With less than one-third control of the Assembly and Senate, Republicans currently are not recognized as relevant by the state’s Establishment.)

I analyzed Senator Rubio’s proposed Sustainable Environmental Protection Act, introduced near the end of the 2012 legislative session, and concluded it would do little to prevent “greenmail” by unions that exploit CEQA with an objective of coercing developers into signing Project Labor Agreements, neutrality agreements, or other labor agreements. The bill mainly appeared to suppress the flailing and railing of small-time community activists.

On January 13, 2013, the Sacramento Bee presented a point-counterpoint entitled Should California Make Changes to Landmark 1970 Law? Writing for the position YES: Opponents Abuse CEQA to Derail Worthy Projects was Senator Rubio, and writing NO: We Should Resist Efforts to Weaken a Law that Works Well was Tom Adams of the law firm Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo, who was identified as “the former board president of the California League of Conservation Voters, and a CEQA attorney.”

In his opinion piece, Rubio cites a few examples of groups of community activists or individuals using CEQA to prevent projects from getting built. But he never mentions unions.

Considering that Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo is the dominant law firm in representing construction unions in CEQA actions, this omission is particularly stunning! But I’ve seen from experience that Senator Rubio has sympathy for unions that abuse CEQA. I posted the following comment under the article:

Kevin Dayton

There’s a notable omission in Senator Rubio’s critique about parties that abuse CEQA.

On October 21, 2008, the Kern County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to approve a $700 million expansion and modernization of the Big West/Flying J refinery in Bakersfield. This was the second Environmental Impact Report produced by the county for the project. The only remaining opposition of any substance to the project was from a South San Francisco law firm, which claimed to represent a mysterious organization called “Bakersfield Refinery Coalition.” At the October 21, 2008 meeting, an attorney for this law firm spoke during public comment and submitted a massive “document dump” objecting to the final Environmental Impact Report. It was a classic case of CEQA abuse.

Someone spoke from the public and revealed that the Bakersfield Refinery Coalition was six construction unions that wanted the refinery developer to sign a Project Labor Agreement so that only union workers would build the refinery project. The unions were the Plumbers and Steamfitters Union Local No. 460, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local No. 428, the Asbestos Workers Local No. 5, the Boilermakers Union Local No. 92, the Ironworkers Local No. 155, and the Road Sprinkler Fitters Union Local No. 669.

One of the Kern County Supervisors was irate about the criticism of the Bakersfield Refinery Coalition and criticized the commenter by name. He then praised the unions.

Which Supervisor? Michael Rubio, who would get union support in his campaign for California State Senate. See the video of the October 21, 2008 Kern County Board of Supervisors meeting, and go to 2:57:40 for Supervisor Rubio’s specific comments about the document dumpers:

http://www.co.kern.ca.us/bos/AgendaMinutesVideo.aspx

Eight-minute video showing the part of the September 15, 2008 Kern County Planning Commission meeting with the CEQA abuse:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oR_jrXdbAgw

And what was the law firm that dumped the documents in front of Supervisor Rubio and the other Kern County Supervisors? Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo.

What’s my point? Whatever CEQA reform you see in 2013 is going to be aimed at people who are trying to stop projects such as “affordable housing” from coming into their neighborhood. Unions won’t be hindered in their comprehensive, professionalized CEQA strategies.

Looks Like CEQA Reform Talks Are Underway…Good Luck People.

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Senator Michael Rubio (D-Bakersfield) was the California state legislator who was poised to introduce the gut-and-amend Sustainable Environmental Protection Act to amend the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in the waning days of the 2012 legislative session. (See my articles A First Crack at Analyzing the Proposed CEQA Reform: “The Sustainable Environmental Protection Act” of 2012 and CEQA Reform is Over for This California Legislative Session: Sustainable Environmental Protection Act May Return in 2013.)

Senator Rubio is now preparing a CEQA reform proposal for 2013. He tweeted this message on December 17, 2012:

Michael J. Rubio ‏@michaelrubio

Just leaving a mtg w/ 30 CEO’s and fellow legislators where we discussed modernizing CEQA. Thank you @CarlGuardino and SunPower for hosting!

Carl Guardino (@CarlGuardino) is the CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the group that has been leading the charge at the California state legislature for CEQA reform. SunPower is a solar energy company that has sought approval to build power plants in the San Joaquin Valley. SunPower has signed Project Labor Agreements with unions to build some of these solar power plants.

After hearing about this meeting, someone sent me a cynical email:

Never happen. Too good a thing for union bosses to give up.

Considering that in the last legislative session, Senator Rubio introduced and pushed the construction union-backed Senate Bill 922 and Senate Bill 829 to nullify or discourage Fair and Open Competition policies prohibiting local governments from requiring Project Labor Agreements, I agree it is quite unlikely that Senator Rubio will proposed any legislation that hinders the ability of construction unions to use CEQA as a tool in extorting Project Labor Agreements from developers. (See It Didn’t Take the First Time: Governor Brown Signs Union Bill #2 to Discourage Voters and City Councils from Banning Project Labor Agreements.)

Who else cared about this meeting? Senator Rubio’s tweet was retweeted or favorited by two journalists and also by the following people:

@ArnoHarris – CEO of Recurrent Energy, one of North America’s leading solar project developers, Board Chair of #SEIA and Board Member of #AEE.

Recurrent Energy is another solar energy company that has sought approval to build power plants in the San Joaquin Valley. Recurrent Energy has signed Project Labor Agreements with unions. California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE) has targeted proposed projects of Recurrent Energy.

@chrisshimoda – Manager of Environmental Policy at the California Trucking Association.

This reminds me that the Teamsters Joint Council 7 union filed a CEQA lawsuit in 2010 court to stop construction of Madison Dearborn’s VWR International Laboratory Equipment Distribution Facility in Visalia. They claimed to be concerned that trucks would execerbate global waming, but what they really wanted was a collective bargaining agreement for the truckers.

@joe_lacava – land use consultant with the firm Avetterra in La Jolla (in San Diego)

Marcela Escobar-Eck@SanDiegoLandUse – keeping San Diego informed of breaking trends in Land Use, Community Development Issues and Regulatory trends…. and a few other things. A land use consultant with Atlantis Group in San Diego.

Robert Cruickshank@cruickshank – “Welcome back to the fight. This time I know our side will win.” Left Coast

Cruickshank does a lot of diverse policy and political consulting for the Left in a model similar to what I try to do for the Right, but he seems to be more successful at it, perhaps because his side is winning now.

@MrJacobMejiaPublic Affairs representative for the Pechanga Indian Reservation near Temecula. The tribe owns and operates the Pechanga Resort & Casino and directly employs more than 5,000 people.

In November, this tribe recently came to an agreement with Granite Construction Company to resolve a seven-year dispute over a proposed gravel quarry. CEQA was central in that fight. See Pechanga to Buy Quarry SiteSan Diego Union-Tribune – November 15, 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?
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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.

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My 2013 Strategic Plan for Labor Issues Solutions, LLC
I. Exercising the Power of City Charters: A Check and Balance Against the State
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  3. Develop and circulate a model charter more aggressive than any charter now in existence.
II. Improving Accountability of Government to the Taxpayers
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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.
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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.
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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:

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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.
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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.

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

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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?

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Unions File Yet Another CEQA Lawsuit Against Proposed Hotel in San Diego: Fat City Hotel Is Latest Target

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Excerpts from this article were included in my December 18, 2012 www.UnionWatch.org article UNITE HERE Becomes San Diego’s Leading Environmental Organization.


On behalf of San Diego-based UNITE-HERE Local Union No. 30, the South San Francisco law firm of Adams, Broadwell, Joseph & Cardozo filed a lawsuit in San Diego County Superior Court on December 5, 2012 alleging that the City of San Diego, the San Diego Planning Commission, and the Centre City Development Corporation improperly approved the proposed Fat City Hotel Project.

First proposed publicly in March 2012, this project would be a two-tower, 364-room hotel in San Diego’s “Little Italy” district. Parties initially involved in this development were Frank Fat Properties LP and Jonathan Segal (an architect), but the parties now developing the project are FC Acquisition Company LLC, which includes T2 Development and GLJ Partners. (See Fat City Hotels Property Sold, New Developer Takes Over: T2 Development Reportedly Planning a Hilton HotelSan Diego Union-Tribune – August 28, 2012.)

As reported in the May 30, 2012 San Diego Union-Tribune article Fat City Hotel Approved Over Labor Objections and in the July 26, 2012 San Diego Union-Tribune article Fat City Hotels Project Wins Final OK: Planning Commission Denies Appeal from Hotel Workers, the hotel workers’ union has been pestering the hotel developers for a while:

The final opposition came from Unite Here Local 30, the local hotel workers union. There is no appeal from the commission vote.

Pamela N. Epstein, representing the union, said the project conflicted with city land-use plans, citing a maximum of hotel rooms that would be allowed in Little Italy where the site is located.

“Evidence does not support its designation as a resort hotel,” Epstein added.

But staff said the project complied with city rules and Commissioner Mary Lydon wondered why the union was involved, especially since new hotels mean new jobs.

“Why you brought this forward, to me, it’s a total miss,” Lydon said.

UNITE-HERE Local Union No. 30 claims that the project needs a project-specific Environmental Impact Report (EIR) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Local agencies approved the project under the conclusion that the potential environmental impacts of this project were addressed in a 2006 “Program Environmental Impact Report” for future downtown redevelopment. See the San Diego Planning Commission staff report for the July 26, 2012 meeting concerning UNITE-HERE’s appeal of the Centre City Development Corporation’s approval of the project.

The appropriate question reporters and public officials need to ask UNITE-HERE Local Union No. 30: will the union drop its lawsuit if the developers agree to a collective bargaining agreement with UNITE-HERE for hotel employees, along with some minor “environmental mitigation” to provide camouflage for the true purpose of the CEQA lawsuit?

In addition, is UNITE-HERE also asking the developers to require their contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council?