Tag Archive for www.FlashReport.org

My Article in www.FlashReport.org: Two Gifts for the Planet: Build California High-Speed Rail and Choose a Path that Crushes the Dairy Industry

Baker Commodities Entrance SignToday (June 4, 2013) www.FlashReport.org posted my article Two Gifts for the Planet: Build California High-Speed Rail and Choose a Path that Crushes the Dairy Industry. It reports on a little-known issue of concern to California’s Kings County: the proposed route for the California High-Speed Rail “goes in the front door and out the back door” of Baker Commodities, the main rendering plant in the region for dairy cow carcasses. Farmers worry (rightly) that environmental issues will prevent Baker Commodities from relocating this rendering plant, as a result exacerbating the economic difficulties of an already struggling dairy industry in the lower San Joaquin Valley.

Baker Commodities in Path of California High-Speed Rail

The Baker Commodities rendering plant is directly in the proposed path of California High-Speed Rail through Kings County.

Since I submitted the article to www.FlashReport.org, Item 2 on the original June 6, 2013 California High-Speed Rail Authority agenda – “Proposal to Identify a CEQA Preferred Alignment and Station Locations for Inclusion in the Fresno to Bakersfield Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS)” – has been removed. Kings County will remain in suspense about the fate of the rendering plant, even as it waits for a Sacramento County Superior Court decision in John Tos; Aaron Fukuda and County of Kings v. California High Speed Rail Authority regarding the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s compliance with Proposition 1A.

www.FlashReport.org Selects @DaytonPubPolicy as One of “Top 50 California Conservatives on Twitter”

On May 22, 2013, www.FlashReport.org published its “Top 50 California Conservatives On Twitter.” To qualify for consideration, a candidate had to be a Californian, openly identified by name on Twitter, who “embraces a limited role for government in our lives, and embraces liberty and freedom,” and is effective in promoting public policy and politics.

I was honored to be included on this list, with my Twitter address @DaytonPubPolicy.

From the article written by Jon Fleischman, publisher of www.FlashReport.org:

Conservatives are engaged in many ways, especially using social networking tools. One of those tools is Twitter. Over the last couple of months I have been working to compile a list of the Top 50 California Conservatives on Twitter. Between people I have been following and the overwhelming amount of input from our readers, I had several hundred conservative tweeters from whom to choose.

Consistent with the content of my web site www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com, I tweet about “generally unreported political news of California state and local governments, with a focus on labor issues.” I encourage you to follow me: I have political and policy followers on the Right, the Center, and the Left, as well as neutral political and policy observers.

“Top 50 California Conservatives on Twitter” – News Media Coverage:

Conservative Blogger Gives Props for #Yolo Supe’s Tweeting SkillsWoodland Daily Democrat – May 22, 2013 (about Yolo County Supervisor and political consultant Matt Rexroad)

My Article in www.FlashReport.org – Know Thyself, Republican: You Could Be the Next Nathan Fletcher

My commentary Know Thyself, Republican: You Could Be the Next Nathan Fletcher was posted today (May 7, 2013) in www.FlashReport.org. It’s a warning to Republican elected and appointed officials and candidates that we are all susceptible to accepting excessive government activism if we don’t develop, refine, examine, and test our principles concerning the purpose and limits of government.

The ordinary American sees government as a benevolent agent that can solve problems and make the world a better place. The ordinary American is also frustrated by the structural checks and balances of federalism and the separation of powers, the conflicts inherent in a multiparty legislature, and the obstacles to social progress established by the Bill of Rights.

They want solutions, now! Pragmatism over principles!

Unchecked, that belief will first lead to what seems to be a visionary social democracy, but then it will lead to tyranny.

As a general rule, Republicans seem to be more inclined to recognize the flawed nature of humanity and be leery of how those human flaws could be reflected in a government of the people. But some politicians who identify themselves as Republicans never seem to think about such fundamental issues, and they are the ones who sail whichever way the wind is blowing, good or bad, to solve the latest problem that grabs the attention of the people.

California High-Speed Rail’s Approval Rating Should Be 30% – My Article in www.FlashReport.org

In an April 12, 2013 post in www.FlashReport.org, I ask this question:

Why does a significant minority of Californians STILL support California High-Speed Rail after all of its financial and management fiascoes?

I conclude that some Californians are unaware of what’s happening with this project. I encourage readers to provide the uninformed citizen with ten reasons not to support it. See the reasons at California High-Speed Rail’s Approval Rating Should Be 30%.

For more detailed information about California High-Speed Rail, see www.CaliforniaHighSpeedRailScam.com and follow @CaHSR_scam on Twitter.

Orange County Project Labor Agreements: One Advances, One Gets Jammed – My Article in www.UnionWatch.org

Within three days last week, elected boards of two of the four community college districts in Orange County, California voted on proposals to require their construction contractors to sign Project Labor Agreements with construction trade unions as a condition of work.

I write about the April 1, 2013 vote results at Rancho Santiago Community College District and the April 3, 2013 vote results at Coast Community College District in my April 9, 2013 www.UnionWatch.org article Orange County Project Labor Agreements: One Advances, One Gets Jammed. The article also includes a complete list of news media coverage.

Here is my additional writing on these Project Labor Agreement threats:

Pugnacious Defense of Economic Freedom in Orange County Can Inspire California’s Free-Market Activists – www.FlashReport.org – March 11, 2012

How Union-Only Project Labor Agreements Rip Off the Taxpayers – www.NewSantaAna.com – April 3, 2013

Reality of Crushing Public Debt from Bond Sales Eclipses the Fantasy Vision of California High-Speed Rail

Originally presented to Californians as a $45 billion statewide high-speed rail system to transport people between major metropolitan areas, the “Safe, Reliable California High-Speed Passenger Train for the 21st Century” has been distorted by the state’s leftist ideologues and corporate and union special interests into the California High Speed Rail Scam.

My article California High-Speed Rail: One-Way Ticket to Debt in www.FlashReport.org on March 25, 2013 described my experience speaking at the March 18, 2013 meetings of the California High-Speed Rail Authority and the California High-Speed Passenger Train Finance Committee. I asked pivotal questions about how the State of California planned to sell the $9.95 billion in bonds authorized by 52.7% of California voters through Proposition 1A in the November 2008 election.

My questions were reported throughout the state in a March 18, 2013 Associated Press article Board Seeks $8.6 Billion in California High-Speed Rail Bonds:

Several speakers challenged the timing of the authorization during the board’s public comment period, asking why the board was acting on the bulk of the bonds approved by voters now when it could be years before the money is needed. Kevin Dayton, a public policy consultant from Roseville, questioned whether the board was rushing to beat the outcome of the lawsuits attempting to block the railroad.

“That’s the obvious question that comes up,” Dayton said. “I think it’s reasonable to assume they’re very worried about it.”

TV viewers also saw (and read) my comments in Nannette Miranda’s story Board Seeks $8.6 Billion in California High-Speed Rail Bonds for various local news programs of ABC affiliates throughout the state:

“What’s your current estimate of the total amount of debt that will be assessed including the interest on this?” high speed rail opponent Kevin Dayton asked the board.

During media interviews after the board meeting, California High-Speed Rail Authority chairman Dan Richard claimed the cost of interest payments for the entire project could eventually reach $700 million per year. He also claimed that interest on the first $2.61 billion in bond sales authorized by Senate Bill 1029 (2012) would cost $175 million per year over 30 years.

As stated in this article California Bullet Train Clears One Obstacle; Land, Legalities Remain, “It all depends on Wall Street, but for estimation purposes, the state is using a 6.5 percent interest rate for 35 years.” This was the rate cited by Chairman Richard during the media interviews. According to California Municipal Bond Advisor, yields for State of California 30-year general obligation bonds were 4.80% on September 20, 2012 and 5.03% on October 19, 2012.

My Questions Reveal One Surprise: Truckers Will Pay for the Bond Interest

California High-Speed Rail Authority chairman Dan Richard responded to my comments by declaring that my questions should be addressed to the California State Treasurer, Bill Lockyer. But later in the meeting, he said that the state would pay interest on the bonds NOT from the general fund, but from vehicle weight fees paid by truckers.

Fox News 11 in Los Angeles reported on this revelation with its March 28 story Money Shell Game? Potholes or High Speed Rail. I was interviewed for the story, and an excerpt from the interview appears in the segment. I am also quoted in the associated article:

Those are fees paid when trucks are too heavy. And that money is supposed to go to highway construction projects. This is typical of the entire way the rail authority operates. Things change. You don’t know what’s going on, there’s very little transparency and openness. Essentially, all they’re doing is taking the money, transferring it into another fund and pretending the general fund is not paying for it. In reality, California taxpayers are still paying the interest.

Assembly Bill 105 (2011) authorized vehicle weight fees to pay interest on bonds for transportation projects. The March 13, 2013 California Legislative Analyst’s Office Overview of Transportation Funding explains how vehicle weight fees will pay interest in 2013-14 on transportation-related bonds:

In addition to ongoing revenues from fuel taxes, the state has issued general obligation bonds in order to pay for transportation projects. The largest such bond measure was Proposition 1B (2006), which authorized the state to sell $20 billion in bonds to finance transportation projects. The Governor’s budget estimates that the debt-service costs on Proposition 1B and other outstanding transportation bonds will be about $1.1 billion in 2013-14.

Vehicle weight fees are used to pay the debt-service cost on transportation bonds rather than the General Fund. For 2013-14, the Governor’s budget uses all $946 million in weight fees to benefit the General Fund. Of this amount, $907 million is to pay debt service and $39 million is loaned to the General Fund and set aside for future debt service.

In addition, the Governor’s budget proposes to use miscellaneous revenues in the SHA to pay transportation debt service on an ongoing basis.

I asked this question in a tweet during the California High-Speed Rail Authority meeting on March 18 after the Authority chairman talked about paying interest from vehicle weight fees:

Does California Trucking Association @Caltrux know truck weight fees to pay interest Prop 1A bond sales for high-speed rail? $10 billion.

This response came on March 28 after the Fox News 11 story aired:

@DaytonPubPolicy we are well aware that the weight fees we pay to maintain roads now go to non-road projects. Trucks pay their share.

(They certainly do, and more – trucks are a favorite target of the Left in California.)

What Were the 2008 Cost Estimates for Interest Paid on the Bonds?

The official legislative analysis of Proposition 1A provided voters with an estimated cost of selling bonds with a 30-year maturity:

If the bonds are sold at an average interest rate of 5 percent, and assuming a repayment period of 30 years, the General Fund cost would be about $19.4 billion to pay off both principal ($9.95 billion) and interest ($9.5 billion). The average repayment for principal and interest would be about $647 million per year.

A July 7, 2008 Senate Appropriations Committee analysis estimated the cost of selling bonds with a 40-year maturity:

AB 3034 would extend the maximum allowable bond maturity term from 30 years to 40 years. Assuming the same interest and inflation rates, this bill could result in an increase in total General Fund costs of $3.78 billion if the term of the bonds is extended to 40 years (to a total cost of $23.2 billion). Annual debt service payments would be $580 million for 40 years.

According to Section 5.02(b)(vii) of the resolutions passed on March 18, the Treasurer is now authorized to borrow the $8.6 billion by selling bonds with a maturity period of 35 years

So does the Governor’s proposed 2013-14 budget adequately account for interest to be paid after the state borrows money for California High-Speed Rail through bond sales? It depends on how the California State Treasurer intends to structure and market them.

Pugnacious Defense of Economic Freedom in Orange County Can Inspire California’s Free-Market Activists: My Article Today in www.FlashReport.org

Today (March 11, 2013), www.FlashReport.org published my article Pugnacious Defense of Economic Freedom in Orange County Can Inspire California’s Free-Market Activists.

It’s inspired by the current sneaky effort of the Coast Community College District board of trustees to require contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with the unions of the Los Angeles-Orange County Building and Construction Trades Council as a condition of working on construction projects funded by $698 million in borrowed money authorized by Measure M, approved in November 2012 by 57% of voters in Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Seal Beach, Westminster, Garden Grove, and Fountain Valley.

This college district serves a relatively affluent, Republican area. Why are four of the five board members Democrats, at least some of whom are inclined to give unions a monopoly on taxpayer-funded construction? Why doesn’t the one Republican on the college board tell people in the district what is happening, so they can comment on this costly proposal?

For more information, see these articles:

Union Officials and Their Buddies Running Orange County’s Coast Community College District Have Been Sneaking a Project Labor Agreement Past the Public – www.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – March 4, 2013

My Email to Orange County’s Coast Community College District Board of Trustees on Their Sneaky Project Labor Agreement for $1 Billion of Taxpayer-Funded Constructionwww.LaborIssuesSolutions.com – March 5, 2013

College District Caught in Labor Agreement Fight – Newport Beach/Costa Mesa Daily Pilot and Huntington Beach Independent – March 8, 2012

In my www.FlashReport.org article, I encourage Orange County Republican activists and other advocates of economic and personal freedom to study and learn from past examples of aggressive campaigns to stop and reverse Project Labor Agreements at local governments such as the County of Orange, Santa Ana Unified School District, and Rancho Santiago Community College District. Make elected officials – Democrats and Republicans – accountable to the people for their votes, as was done with State Senate candidate Ken Maddox in 2004.

Read Pugnacious Defense of Economic Freedom in Orange County Can Inspire California’s Free-Market Activists – www.FlashReport.org – March 11, 2013.

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

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)

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.