Tag Archive for Carl DeMaio

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

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

A Proposed Strategic Plan for the California Republican Party in 2013-2014

Like many Republican activists, I’ve read just about every opinion piece and news article published on the web since November 6, 2012 about how the California Republican Party or the political Center-Right can become “relevant” in California.

Many of those pieces were useless or insulting, but apparently they were effective in convincing some Republican politicians that people need to give more of their money to the government in the form of taxes. (These tax increases are referred to as “investing.”)

In contrast, the most valuable piece I read was How Conservatives Can Win in Blue-State America: Lessons from South Africa’s Opposition. It lists ten strategies that have allowed the Democratic Alliance opposition party to build a diverse coalition of supporters and win elections without compromising Center-Right principles. The first strategy: Do not compromise basic principles; instead, show how they are relevant to all.

The commentary within California that has probably generated the most debate among Republican activists was in the November 16 Orange County RegisterBuilding ‘New’ Republican Party in California by San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, who narrowly lost the race for Mayor of San Diego on November 6. Regrettably, activists seem to be more concerned about whether or not this piece indicates DeMaio is going to run for statewide office than about whether or not his proposed five-point approach is correct:

  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)

I have developed my own ideas, which generally match DeMaio’s proposals and the proposals in the South Africa article.

1. Promote a Specific Alternative Program of Governance

As of November 26, 2012, the California State Assembly Republican Caucus has issued two press releases since the day after November 6 election: (1) Connie Conway was unanimously re-elected as Assembly Minority Leader on November 8; and (2) Connie Conway issued a statement on November 20 about the Israel-Hamas conflict.

This is not a promising start toward ending the era of legislative irrelevance. Many California Republicans are wondering if the party remnant in the state legislature is ever going to explain its vision for governing the state differently than the Democrats. Why is this so difficult? Is it a lack of principles, a lack of leadership, or a lack of cooperation?

Here’s a sample alternative program I developed without help from professional consultants:

How Republicans Would Govern California Differently Than Democrats

Reform the workings of the state legislature so it serves the People of California and not special interest groups

1. Put the Legislature under the same employment laws, contracting laws, and public records access laws as apply to the rest of the people of California.

2. End the disorder and lack of accountability at the Legislature by allowing the people of California to adequately review proposed laws, end the notorious “gut-and-amend” process, end vote switching after votes are closed, require legislators to be present in committee for votes to count, and alternate annual legislative sessions between budget sessions and general sessions.

3. Strictly limit the ability of special interest groups, including lobbyist employers, to give gifts to members of the Legislature.

Slow the growing debt burden on future generations

4. Require the ballot language of bond measures to indicate the current bond debt of the government entity, estimate the total debt from the proposed bond measure (including financial transaction fees and interest), and explain that selling a bond means borrowing money and paying it back with interest through tax increases.

5. Pass a Taxpayer Information Act – similar to the Social Security annual reports, annual reports would be provided by the state in early October to households, corporations, vehicle owners, and property owners indicating the total amount paid for the past five years in taxes and fees to the State of California and California local governments.

6.  Require the executive branch to report annually to the Legislature and the People of California about the state’s financial liabilities, require the executive branch to provide proposed budgets for the upcoming two fiscal years that honestly establish the amount to be collected from taxes and fees and amount to be saved by spending reductions, and ensure that revenues equal expenditures in proposed and enacted budgets.

Encourage economic growth and job creation by stopping schemes that impose excessive and unnecessary costs when doing business in California

7. Reform the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to the pure intent of Governor Ronald Reagan by ensuring public involvement is strictly confined to legitimate environmental impacts.

8. Freeze all new regulations for six months and enact a package of reforms that allow a reasonable amount of time for regulatory compliance, properly evaluate regulatory costs to businesses and taxpayers, and end regulations that are ineffective or show an absurd disparity between costs and benefits.

9. Discourage foolish, frivolous, and harassing lawsuits by enacting a measured and reasonable “loser pays” rule for the courts.

Bring more accountability to powerful government entities with appointed boards

10. Restrict the number and power of joint powers agencies and other regional government entities to which board members are appointed.

11. Reduce the number of state boards and commissions and establish a system for greater legislative oversight of regulations enacted by these boards and commissions.

12. Set reasonable minimum standards for joint powers agencies and other regional government entities concerning meeting notices and public information on the web.

2. Establish or Cultivate a California Intellectual Policy Center (Think Tank)

At this time, the most visible and influential free market-oriented policy institute for California governance is based in Manhattan. As long as California lacks a homegrown, aggressive, relevant policy institute to develop and promote Center-Right principles and applications for the state, professional political campaign consultants will fill the vacuum and set the policy agenda for the California Republican Party.

3. Expand Republican Speech – Overhaul the Use of Web and Social Media

Why did the California Republican Party web site focus on the shortcomings of President Obama, when California was never expected to be a competitive state in the presidential election? Why is there virtually no presence of state and county Republican Party officials on Twitter? Why are many county Republican Party web sites so amateurish?

Many activists in the California Republican Party are traditionalists who are wary of the triviality and foolishness posted on the web and circulated through trendy social media. But earlier generations recoiled against radio and then television, and then they adopted to the new ways of communication.

The Republican Party of San Diego County is going in the right direction in effectively using the web and social media as a communications tool. Someone needs to establish web sites for all of the state and local Republican Party organizations, keep them updated regularly with relevant and factual state and local content, and inform the public through social media when there is fresh content. And impose a moratorium on bashing President Obama – even Republicans are tired of it.

4. Focus on Federalism: Local Government Should Serve as the Base of Opposition

The California Republican Party should encourage Republicans in local government to develop, propose, and implement standards and models of governance that provide the best quality public services to citizens at the best price for taxpayers. This will create a dramatic contrast with local governments run by Democrats that will file for bankruptcy in 2013 and 2014.

In addition, Republicans should encourage cities to seek or exercise their constitutional right to govern their own municipal affairs through a charter, thus freeing themselves from the costly mandates of the state legislature. There should be 30 proposed city charters on the June 2014 ballot for California voters to consider. Republicans in California’s current 121 charter cities should use their local governing authority in innovative and creative ways.

CEQA Greenmail Still Effective for Unions in San Diego: Just a Cost of Doing Business for Pragmatic Civic Leaders

The San Diego Daily Transcript business newspaper today (October 10, 2012) published an opinion piece from Eric Christen of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction entitled Unions Manipulate City Leaders with CEQA Threats.

In the commentary about union objections under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to the proposed expansion of the San Diego Convention Center, Christen contends that business, political, and community leaders in San Diego have essentially surrendered to the organizing agenda of union leaders. Unions and their lawyers have effectively exploited the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to block proposed projects until the developer signs a Project Labor Agreement for construction and a neutrality agreement leading to a collective bargaining agreement for the permanent workforce. Eric writes the following:

In San Diego, the city’s civic leaders regard union CEQA abuse as a customary part of doing business. Instead of exposing it and shaming the perpetrators, they say nothing publicly and surrender to it privately. Then they pass the costs to the taxpayers and consumers.

Why aren’t San Diego business, community and political leaders — other than Councilman Carl DeMaio — holding these union officials accountable for their CEQA extortion on the proposed Convention Center expansion? Why aren’t they highlighting this incident as an outrageous example of CEQA abuse?

Apparently America’s Finest City is fine with this “cost of doing business in San Diego.” What an outrage.

I’m guessing that civic leaders and big developers closely observed how Nashville-based Gaylord Entertainment exposed and resisted the union environmental extortion in 2007 and 2008 against the proposed $1.2 billion Chula Vista Bayfront Hotel and Convention Center. The San Diego news media covered the story extensively, and ultimately it led to voters in the City of Chula Vista approving a ballot measure (Measure G) that prohibits the city from entering into contracts that require contractors to sign Project Labor Agreements.

Apparently, San Diego union leaders strategically determined that either Gaylord Entertainment would succumb to their demands to build and operate its facility exclusively with union workers, or Gaylord would never build it. After Gaylord Entertainment finally abandoned its plan to build the Chula Vista project and instead began construction of a facility in Mesa, Arizona, the Political Director/Organizer of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union No. 569 was proud, as she acknowledged to the now-defunct San Diego News Network in the July 6, 2009 profile Union Leader Badgley Shares Her Journey with IBEW 569:

Q: What accomplishment are you proud of?

A: Gaylord. We put a lot of resources into organizing the bay front in Chula Vista. It’s one of the last pieces of undeveloped land on the water, and we wanted something that was good for the environment and good for the workers. We worked with the environmental community, the trade show unions, the hotel and restaurant workers, and we tried to make sure that the project would be good for the environment and the workers. In some ways, I’ll take the blame. You have to respect the workers and the environment. We were asked, “Isn’t something better than nothing?” Our feeling is that if we build it right, we can build more.

(Nashville, Tenn.-based Gaylord Entertainment wanted to build a 1,500 room hotel and convention center on the Chula Vista bay front. In 2007, the company pulled out allegedly because it could not reach an agreement with labor unions. It then continued negotiating, and pulled out again a year later because it could not get financing.)

I believe we sent a strong message about the power and commitment of San Diego’s electrical workforce with the Gaylord campaign. We are committed to continue to make sure that whatever is built on the bayfront must create good, green, local careers.

Now we see San Diego developers and their community allies waving white flags, even as San Diego is close to having a free market-oriented mayor and a Republican city council majority, and even as voters in the County of San Diego and in the cities of San Diego, Chula Vista, Oceanside, and El Cajon have expressed their views on union monopolies by prohibiting government-mandated Project Labor Agreements through ballot measures.

For example, an article today in the October 10, 2012 San Diego Union-Tribune (Lane Field Hotels Approved by Port) reported that the Lane Field developers (Rob Lankford, architect John Portman & Associates and contractor Hensel Phelps) surrendered to union demands in order to get two proposed hotels approved and finally under construction:

Developers also avoided opposition from labor groups by agreeing to require union construction labor and welcome unionized workers at the finished hotels…But Trammer said underground parking could add nearly $18 million to the $115 million construction cost, roughly the same it will cost to use union labor.

So this is another Project Labor Agreement won by the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council (costing the developers an extra $18 million), and another neutrality agreement won by UNITE-HERE Local Union No. 30 to be imposed on a hotel operator who hasn’t even been identified yet. Again outraged by another surrender to extortion, Eric Christen posted a comment in response to the article:

Once again we see that threats of environmental lawsuits filed by labor unions would have been used had not the owner of this project not agreed to use union labor. And this is not laid out by the writer more explicitly why? This same writer just covered the Port Commission meeting two weeks ago where the unions dropped 150 pages of comments via their lawyers on the Convention Center Expansion yet these two striking similar projects but totally different union responses are not connected here.

This of course follows a decade of unions pulling this greenmail starting with Petco Park to this current project, and of course chasing Gaylord out of the state was their crowning achievement.

This extortion that unions use on projects that do not agree to use union labor is astounding. The silence form (sic) developers and the press on this is equally astounding.

As outlined in the www.PhonyUnionTreeHuggers.com article Lane Field in San Diego: UNITE-HERE Local 30 Doesn’t Like a Proposed Hotel, UNITE-HERE Local Union No. 30 had hired the law firm of Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo to identify and submit substantial environmental objections to the project under CEQA.

And here is a THIRD example of union greenmail working its magic. A September 28, 2012 article in Voice of San Diego (U-T CEO Denies Threatening Port; New Email Emerges) revealed that developers who want to convert the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal into a new sports/entertainment complex are seeking input and advice from Tom Lemmon, the head of the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council. The email was released by Lorena Gonzalez, the head of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council.

These three examples from just the last three weeks show that labor unions have been able to use CEQA to control anything having to do with downtown project development in the City of San Diego, particularly within the Port of San Diego‘s jurisdiction. Giving into union CEQA extortion is indeed a “cost of doing business” in San Diego (and throughout California).

Is this surprising, knowing the nature of humanity? After all, paying people off to avoid unwanted artificially-placed obstacles has probably been a standard way of doing business in most places in most times throughout human history. This country is not particularly clean: the United States is only ranked 24th in 2011 on the Transparency International annual Corruption Perceptions Index, with corruption defined as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.”

California’s urban local governments near the coast are generally fiscally irresponsible, mismanaged, unaccountable, and governed by pragmatists (at best) or compulsive criminals (at worst). These are ripe conditions for unions, corporate entities, and other self-interested organizations to infect and pervert government and commerce. The republican (lower case “r”) structure of checks and balances in American government works haphazardly in these cities; in particular, citizens fail to fulfill their necessary duty of educated and informed democratic participation in the process of choosing representatives and setting policies.

Nevertheless, Eric Christen is committed to fighting this urban corruption as reflected in union CEQA greenmail, according to an email he sent on October 10, 2012:

What is frustrating for myself as someone who deals with this locally and statewide every day is that I get what unions are doing and why they are doing it. What I do not get is how on earth they can keep getting away with doing it without being held accountable by an inquisitive press that asks simple questions after seeing the obvious staring them in the face.

I can fight unions and their shameless abuse of the California environmental law. I can continue to educate and inform the public about this and get them to ban PLAs when we put it on the ballot. I can continue to educate the media about this abuse. But what I cannot do is write the stories or pose the questions that help educate taxpayers, voters and citizens about exactly what is going on.

Sorry Eric, looks like few people want to join you in exposing this racket. You’re putting abstract principles ahead of tangible financial self-gain. That’s not a popular proposition.

But here is some consolation: this appeasement to union extortion recalls a well-known quotation attributed to Vladimir Lenin (but probably spurious): “the capitalists will sell us the rope from which we’ll hang them.”

Some of the capitalists to be hung will die rich. A few courageous ones to be hung will die right.

Carl DeMaio’s Campaign for Mayor of San Diego Echoes Rob Ford’s Successful Campaign for Mayor of Toronto

In October 2010, voters in the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada elected a fiscally conservative city council member – Rob Ford – as mayor. Ford campaigned on the idea that “city hall has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.” He vowed to cut the costs of city government to save money for taxpayers, without cutting services.

His campaign platform included reducing the size of the city bureaucracy, reducing the cost of government by cutting waste and privatizing government services such as garbage collection, and creating an incentive program to identify areas for cost savings. Ford emphasized his credibility by noting he was the “strongest voice” on the city council for better fiscal management and cost efficiency.

There are some similarities between Rob Ford’s campaign for Mayor of Toronto (campaign web site not operating at this time) and Carl DeMaio’s campaign for Mayor of San Diego:

  • Both Ford and DeMaio served as the most vocal leaders on their city councils for lower taxes, less spending, and more government efficiency.
  • Both candidates based their campaigns on a need for dramatic change in the fiscal management of their respective cities: Ford had a “Saving Our City Plan,” while DeMaio has his “Roadmap to Recovery Plan.”
  • Both Ford and DeMaio are policy-oriented, bold, and committed, with brash, colorful personalities.
  • Both Toronto and San Diego are sprawling cities with a liberal urban core and more conservative suburban areas, although Toronto has a higher population and a bigger government. Toronto has a population of 2.6 million; San Diego has a population of 1.3 million. Toronto has a $9.4 billion budget; San Diego has a $2.75 billion budget.
  • Both Toronto and San Diego have suffered from long-term budget deficits and other fiscal problems that have wearied taxpayers.

It’s not wise to make election predictions, but I suspect that the campaign message that worked for Rob Ford in Toronto will also work for Carl DeMaio in San Diego.

Mystical Ratios and Other Strange Excuses: San Diego’s Top Union Boss Lorena Gonzalez Explains Why San Diego Voters Approved Propositions A and B

A few people were incredulous last week when they heard the election night claims of Lorena Gonzalez – the Secretary-Treasurer/CEO of the San Diego & Imperial Counties Central Labor Council – that “corporate interests” and “huge corporations” outspent unions in a ratio of 7 to 1 in the campaign over the Fair and Open Competition ballot measure (Proposition A) in the City of San Diego. (Proposition A won with 58% of the vote on June 5, 2012.)

One person said to me, “I read your blog showing how unions spent $1.2 million against Proposition A. What is she talking about? Did the Yes on A campaign really raise more than $7 million?”

No. As shown here in the campaign finance reports of the City of San Diego Ethics Commission, unions and union-managed organizations spent more against Proposition A ($1,325,231.20) than “corporate interests” spent in support of Proposition A ($934,037.81), in a ratio of almost 3 to 2. Supporters of Prop A did not even raise $1 million for a city-wide campaign in a city with 1.3 million people. Gonzalez’s 7 to 1 ratio for spending on Proposition A could only be met with $8.2 million in additional imaginary money to the Yes on A campaign or with some sort of incredible distortion of data on campaign finance reports.

Knowing her three degrees earned from highly prestigious colleges indicate a truly superior intelligence, I concluded that Gonzalez must have used some sort of exotic algorithm to calculate the 7 to 1 ratio. I tried to figure it out, but failed. I did determine that even if she actually meant campaign spending for Proposition A combined with Proposition B (city employee pension reform), the claim is false. Add both together, and the so-called “corporate interests” outspent unions in a little more than a 3:2 ratio.

Why would someone with such prominence in a local community let out such a brazen lie? Opinions are often in the eyes of the beholder, but she presents that claim as a fact, which people can check for truthfulness and accuracy. Even more perplexing, she said it repeatedly.

A quick perusal of Gonzalez’s recent Twitter posts reveals her frequent citation of the 7 to 1 business to union campaign expenditure ratio. For example, on May 31 she responded to a taunt about her lost race for San Diego City Council with this line: “When I was outspent 7-1, everybody predicted Faulconer and I came within hundreds? Yep, I remember that!” And on May 19, she criticized the content of a KUSI Channel 10 news story with the comment “Doesn’t fit their narrative if they say business outspends labor 7 to 1.” (She was citing this specific ratio even before the campaigns for and against Proposition A submitted their later expenditure reports to the city.)

Is it possible that Gonzalez has stumbled on some sort of mystic power in the 7:1 ratio that will lead “working people” to start voting in support of the union tax-and-spend political agenda?

To examine Gonzalez’s full range of excuses after San Diego voters approved Proposition A on June 5, I looked at the election night news coverage in San Diego. Here are her standard talking points:

  1. These are “very complicated legal issues” and the voters don’t understand what they’re supporting. (Translation: voters aren’t educated enough to know what’s good for them.)
  2. Voters were distracted with so many races on the ballot. (Translation: the unruliness of democracy confuses people into voting against their interests.)
  3. We were outspent badly by huge corporations. (Translation: democracy is unfair because corporations are able to spend money in political campaigns.)
  4. We didn’t really try to win. (Translation: our political system is so fundamentally controlled by corporate interests that participation is useless, and I lied earlier to the union volunteers who helped with the campaign and lied even earlier to the union workers whose money was used – without their consent – for campaign advertising and contracts for political consultants.)
  5. We were victims of right-wing media bias. (Translation: media in a democracy should be required to present the valid position of working people. All coverage should be like Democracy Now! and Pacifica Radio.)
  6. The enacted policies are meaningless. (Translation: I lied earlier to the union volunteers who helped with the campaign and lied even earlier to the union workers whose money was used – without their consent – for campaign advertising and contracts for political consultants.)

For example, below is an election night video interview on local TV news for Channel 7 KNSD (NBC) in which Gonzalez rolls out all of her standard talking points. She claims that “we didn’t invest in those propositions in the same way as our opponents” and that “huge corporations” outspent the unions 7 to 1. She repeats the 7 to 1 lie a second time for those who didn’t hear it the first time.

 


 
 
Gonzalez also blames the mainstream media, even as she tries to use it. “We live in a city where we have one newspaper” with an agenda to defeat unions, working people, and Democrats. She also says San Diego has local TV stations that are anti-worker. (She has to backtrack on that statement a little in her own self-interest when she realizes she is being interviewed for local TV news, although she must be fuming after the reporter starts the interview by introducing her as “the county’s labor boss.”)

I’ll predict “corporate media bias” will be a major theme of unions in San Diego; in fact, the New York Times is helping by now being worried about it: see “Newspaper as Business Pulpit” – June 10, 2012. I would suggest that the unions establish their own competing daily newspaper targeted at “working people” in San Diego, but instead they’ll probably use the government to force ownership or content changes at the Union-Tribune. 

Here are some other Lorena Gonzalez quotes from the web and print media following the June 5 election. Remember, according to Gonzalez, all of these media entities hate working people:

Early results show voters support the idea of the City of San Diego being prohibited from using union-friendly Project Labor Agreements (PLAs)… “With so much noise going on in this election, I’m not surprised,” said Lorena Gonzalez, CEO of San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council. When asked her opinion on the returns for both Prop A and Prop B, Gonzalez said it’s tough for the workers’ voice to be heard. She said San Diegans are too smart to support Prop A but said the labor stance was outspent 7 to 1 by corporate interests. “When we need to, we’ll exercise our legal options,” Gonzalez said.

Source: Prop. A Passage Not Surprising to Labor – Channel 7 KNSD (ABC). (By the way, Lorena Gonzalez is one of the most relentless sources of political noise in San Diego, so maybe she’s subconsciously blaming herself.)

Lorena Gonzalez, the head of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, told City News Service that she expects Proposition B to be overturned by the courts, and for San Diegans to repeal Proposition A in the next couple of years, once its costs become clear. “There’s a third branch of government for a reason,” Gonzalez said, referring to the court system.

Source: San Diego Voters Approve Propositions A, B – Channel 10 KGTV (ABC) – June 6, 2012; Absentee Voters Favor San Diego Initiatives Channel 5 KSWB (FOX); and Election 2012: San Diegans Favor Propositions – Channel 8 KFMB News (CBS).

Here, she decides to shift the focus from the proposition victories and instead start the general election campaign by trying to diminish the first-place showing of Councilman Carl DeMaio in the hotly-contested primary race for San Diego mayor, which had four legitimate contenders (three Republicans and a Democrat):

However, labor leader Lorena Gonzalez said the outcome of Proposition B was not unexpected considering how heavily opponents were outspent…Gonzalez, head of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, an umbrella group that represents 133 unions, said she doubts voters realized that Proposition A could keep millions of dollars of state funds from the city. Gonzalez said the strongest message she was taking away from San Diego voters was the number who voted against mayoral front-runner Carl DeMaio. “Sixty eight percent basically told Carl DeMaio they are not in for his politics,” she said. “I think that’s great. Clearly the only person who really billed himself as anti-worker was Carl DeMaio and 68 percent of the people said no to Carl DeMaio.”

Source: Labor, GOP Draw Different Conclusions from Vote: Proposition A, B Victories Called “Taxpayer Revolution” – San Diego Union-Tribune – June 6, 2012

Here, she strangely switches focus to the California Republican Party, perhaps indicating a subconscious desire to flee San Diego and return to the comforting security of the California State Capitol, where most people are smart enough to know that free enterprise is nonsense.

Lorena Gonzalez, head of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, countered by saying Republicans have sided with corporate interests over working people, leading to the possibility of the statewide GOP going the “way of the dodo bird.” She said DeMaio and downtown lobbyists that helped fund his mayoral campaign and Propositions A and B have used pensions and project-labor agreements as straw men they’d prefer to fight against because they make for good sound bites, no matter how inaccurate. “Measures like these don’t solve problems, they just create more,” she said…“Just as these propositions will not solve the financial problems of our city government, they do nothing to put more money back in the pockets of hardworking San Diegans or put the unemployed back to work,” she said. “We will continue to put our efforts to creating more jobs, better jobs and better lives for all San Diegans — union and nonunion — because that is what matters to us, not these cheap political games.”

Source: GOP Basks in the Election Afterglow – San Diego Union-Tribune – June 6, 2012

Note: it does not look like Gonzalez even bothered to comment about the passage of Proposition D – a charter for the city of El Cajon that includes a Fair and Open Competition provision and a provision allowing the city to establish its own government-mandated construction wage rates (prevailing wages) for purely municipal projects.


Postscript: Lorena Gonzalez was uncharacteristically silent on record after voters approved Proposition G in Chula Vista, Proposition K in Oceanside, and Proposition A in San Diego County in 2010. I did find ONE comment from Gonzalez explaining voter approval of Proposition G and Proposition K: in this case, she blamed the people again, this time by complaining about people not voting.

FUDGE: And you’re disappointed, I assume, with Proposition G in Chula Vista and Proposition K in Oceanside on the project labor agreements.

GONZALEZ: Well, especially Chula Vista, you know, we spent a lot of time down there but the turnout just – I’ve never quite seen anything like it. I think when the final numbers come in, we’ll see about, maybe 25% and in a city that is predominantly Latino and predominantly Democrat, it was – the electorate yesterday was not. It was mainly an absentee turnout and mainly a Republican turnout and, again, when people show up at the polls, when we have high turnout like we do in presidential years or in gubernatorial years when there’s a runoff, then workers win. But when people don’t come out, we can’t win.

Source: Who Won and Who Lost In Tuesday’s Primary Election – KPBS – Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Exclusive: Local Government Election Results in California Highly Relevant to Labor Issues

California’s primary election night was overshadowed by the support from Wisconsin voters for state elected officials who implemented a modest reform of collective bargaining for public employees. But here is an exclusive report on how the June 5, 2012 election also brought good results for advocates of fiscal responsibility and economic and personal freedom in California.

Some might say that voters are being hoodwinked by FOX News, conservative talk radio, and the Dayton Public Policy Institute. To me, it’s clear that a majority of Californians do not see tax increases, more government spending, and expanded government programs as the solution to the state’s economic struggles.

SAN DIEGO REGION

Similar to what’s taking place in numerous states throughout the country, voters in the San Diego region are actively responding to a challenging economy by calling for smaller and more efficient government. I will elaborate in a future post about the ten years of behind-the-scenes tedious work that led to this development in San Diego County, but for now I’ll outline the good news.

I’ve already posted on the easy 58% victory in the City of San Diego for Proposition A, which enacts a Fair and Open Competition ordinance prohibiting the city from requiring construction contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement to work on taxpayer-funded construction. I also reported already on the 57% victory in the City of El Cajon for Proposition D, a new charter that includes a Fair and Open Competition provision and also gives the city authority to establish its own government-mandated construction wage rates (prevailing wages) for city projects. (Boy, unions hate it when local governments take power away from the state!)

There will be a heated campaign up to November 5 for San Diego Mayor. Advocate of economic freedom (and San Diego City Councilman) Carl DeMaio will face leftist Congressman Bob Filner. This election will feature a passionate debate over the benefits of capitalism versus socialism! If DeMaio is elected as Mayor, there will be a dramatic change in political culture in the City of San Diego. I will write more about DeMaio in a future post.

(See Filner’s letter here telling the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce to oppose Proposition G in part because it would be a “fool’s errand” to seek federal funding for the city if Proposition G passed. It did pass, and somehow the federal money continues to be piped in, as shown by evidence of continued federal grants to the city’s Capital Improvement Program here.)

Also, Councilman DeMaio’s Proposition B to reform public employee pensions in the City of San Diego won with 66% of the vote. And this was not the only successful urban public employee pension reform measure to win voter approval in California on June 5: Mayor Chuck Reed’s Measure B to reform public employee pensions in the City of San Jose (a much more liberal city than San Diego) passed with 70% of the vote. Apparently Californians are a lot like people in Wisconsin: they understand that future economic growth and job creation cannot be anchored on excessive government payouts obtained by public employee unions through politically-manipulated collective bargaining.

Also in the City of San Diego, Scott Sherman won a city council seat. He supports economic freedom and fiscal responsibility. Ray Ellis – also an advocate of economic freedom – will face Sherri Lightner in November for another city council seat.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

Even in much more liberal Northern California, there was good news beyond the win for public employee pension reform in the City of San Jose.

In Placer County, construction unions flushed $30,000 down the toilet in funding 92% of the campaign of Pam Tobin, who challenged incumbent Kirk Uhler for a seat on the Placer County Board of Supervisors but lost, 60% to 40%. I was at the Uhler election night victory party in Granite Bay and was pleased to see the result. See my exclusive investigative report revealing and analyzing the union sources of Tobin’s campaign contributions here.

But Placer County Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery won re-election. She voted in 2010 against the currently-in-effect Fair and Open Competition policy banning Project Labor Agreements on county construction projects.

Elsewhere in Placer County, 65% voters in the City of Auburn rejected Measure A, a proposed charter that would have given authority to the city to establish its own policies concerning government-mandated construction wage rates (prevailing wages) on city projects.

In an earlier post I compared the City of Auburn’s charter campaign to the charter campaign of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes (in Los Angeles County) in 2011. In both cases, large and politically sophisticated construction unions used their well-funded labor-management cooperation committees, political action committees, and general budgets to steamroll over a home-grown local grassroots movement.

ADVICE to CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS and CITY STAFF seeking a CHARTER: contact Labor Issues Solutions, LLC for a free consultation and some honest assessments of what it takes to win against aggressive self-interested union opposition. You’re fighting a political machine, as city council members and community activists have recently learned through experience in Rancho Palos Verdes, Auburn, Redding, Paradise, South Lake Tahoe, Folsom, and Elk Grove. You CAN win like Oceanside did in 2010 and El Cajon just did on June 5, 2012 (see below).

There was a gratifying victory in Contra Costa County, where Danville Mayor Candace Andersen won 60% of the vote and easily defeated Contra Costa Community College District Governing Board member Tomi Van De Brooke for the open seat held by the late Supervisor Gayle Uilkema. Van De Brooke only received 28% despite receiving the “benefit” of nasty union-funded mailers about abortion sent to district voters. This is yet another case in which Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) in California made a politician accountable to the voters for supporting costly union-backed policies in order to lock up union campaign support. Regrettably, the Project Labor Agreement imposed by Van De Brooke in December 2011 for community college district construction projects will remain as a legacy of this election.

In Sonoma County, there will be a clash between two ideologically opposite members of the Santa Rosa City Council for an open seat on the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. The candidate for economic freedom, John Sawyer, will face off against pro-union candidate Susan Gorin.

In Solano County, pro-union challenger Skip Thomson defeated Mike Reagan, the one solid advocate for economic freedom on the Solano County Board of Supervisors. Reagan barely held onto the seat against Thomson four years ago. The Project Labor Agreement policy for Solano County construction projects will continue, now without an opposing view on the board.

In Yolo County, incumbent Duane Chamberlain survived a challenge from union-backed Woodland Mayor Art Pimentel for a seat on the Yolo County Board of Supervisors.

Voters rejected Measure J, a $59.5 million school bond measure to modernize a high school in the City of Antioch. That was a whopping target for a Project Labor Agreement, as shown by the construction union funding of the campaign to support Measure J.

Disappointing results were seen in the elections for Sacramento City Council, where candidates backed by business groups lost, as usual. The Sacramento City Council continues to be dominated by politicians lukewarm toward economic growth. I believe this results in part from voter distrust of candidates funded by housing tract developers, and NOT because voters love unions. In fact, I think union connections would be a liability for incumbents if campaigns chose to focus on them aggressively.

BACKYARD CHICKEN FREEDOM MOVEMENT CONTINUES TO ADVANCE!

Voters in the City of Yreka (near the Oregon border on I-5) voted 720-650 to approve possession of up to six backyard hens (no roosters) in residential areas of the city. As Yreka City Councilman Bryan Foster said to KDRV News Channel 12 (ABC) in Medford, Oregon: “The chicken issue, for me, it centers around private property rights and really, government interference.” Isn’t it refreshing to hear that kind of statement from a California elected official, even when it’s broadcast from an Oregon TV station? See my earlier post on this hotly-contested issue here.