Archive for State Business Climate

Redding Needs a Charter to End Nonsense Definition of Private Hotel as a “Public Works” Project

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UPDATE: My letter to the editor Kevin Dayton: Redding Needs a City Charter is in the February 4, 2013 Redding Record-Searchlight. Comments in response misrepresent “prevailing wage” as “living wage” just like at the Newport Beach City Council meeting on January 22, 2013. It’s possible that a political consultant has suggested using this strategy to take advantage of public ignorance about the calculation of “prevailing wages” and the resulting rates.

The City of Redding has been hit with a union-instigated obstacle to economic growth and job creation imposed by Senate Bill 975, enacted into law in 2001. This law (described below in greater detail) expanded the state’s definition of “public works” to include many private construction projects, thereby requiring companies working on these projects to pay state-mandated construction wage rates (so-called “prevailing wages”) instead of wages that reflect local market conditions.

On January 27, 2013, the California Department of Industrial Relations reversed an earlier decision from December 27, 2011 and determined that a proposed Sheraton hotel to be built in Redding by the Turtle Bay Exploration Park is a “public works” project after all.

Turtle Bay Exploration Center in Redding Loses to Unions

Turtle Bay Exploration Center in Redding Loses to Unions

This new decision was sought by three unions: the Plumbers & Pipefitters Union Local No. 228, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local No. 340, and the Sheet Metal Workers Union Local No. 162 (now absorbed into Sheet Metal Workers Union Local No. 104). As a result of a 22-page appeal of the original decision by the law firm of Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo, the state has now decided that the privately-owned hotel would a public works project, equivalent to a courthouse, because the City of Redding waived rental payments on the land where the hotel will be built.

Now the proposed hotel project may be in jeopardy because the anticipated increased cost of construction may compromise the financial success of the hotel. A January 30, 2013 article in the Redding Record-Searchlight newspaper (Fate of Hotel at Turtle Bay in Limbo – Ruling: Park Must Pay Workers Prevailing Wage to build Sheraton Hotel) outlined the current status of the planned 130-room hotel:

…a park spokesman said he could not say when construction will start or whether the project is in jeopardy. Groundbreaking for the hotel had been scheduled this month.

“At this point we still hope to build the hotel, and operate a hotel there,” Turtle Bay’s Toby Osborn said Wednesday. “There is just a lot of uncertainty due to the ruling.”

…“Everybody woke up this morning and it was a different ballgame,” Osborn said. “Now we need to sit down and identify all the knowns and try to identify all the unknowns.”

But don’t worry, magnanimous union officials say they will help:

Andrew Meredith of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union Local 340 – one of the unions that appealed the ruling – said they were always confident the state would overturn its prevailing wage decision.

“That said, we are still committed to working with Turtle Bay to find a way to get this project off the ground,” Meredith said. “We know this is something that is important to the community.”

Turtle Bay met with the unions Wednesday to discuss how to move forward, including how the ruling will affect costs of building the hotel and restaurant.

What Is Senate Bill 975 and Why Is It an Obstacle to Private Construction Projects?

In 2001, Governor Gray Davis signed into law Senate Bill 975, a bill sponsored by the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California that expanded the definition of “public works” under California Labor Code Section 1720 to include many private projects. Existing law had defined “public works” as various types of construction “done under contract and paid for in whole or in part out of public funds.” Senate Bill 975 added a list of various kinds of non-monetary government assistance that qualified as public funds:

“paid for in whole or in part out of public funds” means the payment of money or the equivalent of money by a state or political subdivision directly to or on behalf of the public works contractor, subcontractor, or developer, performance of construction work by the state or political subdivision in execution of the project, transfer of an asset of value for less than fair market price; fees, costs, rents, insurance or bond premiums, loans, interest rates, or other obligations that would normally be required in the execution of the contract, which are paid, reduced, charged at less than fair market value, waived or forgiven; money to be repaid on a contingent basis; or credits applied against repayment obligations.

As business groups and Republican legislators predicted, the increased costs of construction labor resulting from prevailing wage requirements triggered by Senate Bill 975 scuttled numerous private commercial projects and private affordable housing projects, especially in the Central Valley, North State region (Redding and Chico), and other rural areas.

In these parts of the state, away from the coastal metropolitan cities, the disparity between state-mandated construction wage rates (so-called prevailing wages but actually based on union collective bargaining agreements) and actual median wages in the local market region is quite significant – as much as 30% or more, depending on the trade. See An Analysis of Market and Prevailing Wage Rates for the Construction Trades in California (2004) and The Effects of Prevailing Wage Requirements on the Cost of Low-Income Housing (2005).

Unions Derailed an Easy Local Solution to This Problem in 2011

Sundial Bridge in Redding, California

Sundial Bridge in Redding, California

There has been an ongoing grassroots effort in Redding to ask voters to enact a charter in order to circumvent costly and intrusive state meddling in local affairs. A charter would free the City of Redding from the mandates of the union-controlled California State Legislature, including state-mandated construction wage rates (so-called “prevailing wages”). See Are Charter Cities Taking Advantage of State-Mandated Construction Wage Rate (“Prevailing Wage”) Exemptions?

In 2011, various local groups and individuals wanted voters to consider approving a robust charter, but union officials ultimately derailed the movement through a Charter City Exploratory Committee appointed by the city council.

The citizens of Redding need to enact a charter so their city has the same authority as the 121 California charter cities to establish its own prevailing wage policies. Why are the people of Redding acquiescing to the demands of unions and allowing the state legislature and a state agency to determine the fate of this hotel?

News Coverage of the Turtle Bay Hotel Prevailing Wage Saga:

Redding City Council Abandons Charter, Saves Prevailing Wage – State Building and Construction Trades Council web site – June 8, 2011

Cost of Turtle Bay Hotel Rests with Department of Industrial Relations; Prevailing Wage in Dispute – Redding Record-Searchlight – August 18, 2011

Turtle Bay Wins Ruling on Wages; Hotel Plan Not Subject to Prevailing Pay – Redding Record-Searchlight – December 28, 2011

Hotel construction cost estimates range from $13 million to $14.8 million. Total project costs are pegged at $21.2 million. Prevailing wage would have added roughly $1.25 million to that price tag, Osborn has said.

Hotel at Turtle Bay May Break Ground in JanuaryRedding Record-Searchlight – December 12, 2012

Unions Win Prevailing-Wage Case vs. Turtle BayRedding Record-Searchlight – January 29, 2013

Fate of Hotel at Turtle Bay in Limbo – Ruling: Park Must Pay Workers Prevailing Wage to build Sheraton Hotel – Redding Record-Searchlight – January 30, 2013

One More Costly Delay on Road to Turtle Bay Hotel – Redding Record-Searchlight (editorial) – January 30, 2013

Turtle Bay Nearing Compromise with Unions Over Hotel Construction – Redding Record-Searchlight – February 7, 2013

Finally, the Redding Employees Association of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is now suing the City of Redding for approving a contract with Vertex Business Solutions (Orcom Solutions), a provider of outsourced billing and customer care services to utilities, to take over billing and a call center from the city-owned Redding Electric Utility. It appears this contract would have been umambiguously legal if Redding operated as a charter city. See Union Sues Redding Over Outsourcing REU Call CenterRedding Record-Searchlight – January 18, 2013.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Research, compile, and expose the following:

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

Research, compile, and expose the following:

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

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

Research, compile, and expose the following:

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

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

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

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

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

3. Mail to the following address:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riverside Press-Enterprise Publishes My Commentary: Don’t Blame Wal-Mart for Fighting CEQA Abuse

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The Sunday, December 2, 2012 Riverside Press-Enterprise published my opinion piece Don’t Blame Wal-Mart for Fighting CEQA Abuse. It is a response to a Riverside Press Enterprise editorial from November 25, 2012, Big-Box Browbeating, which I felt lacked an important perspective: labor unions and other groups routinely exploit the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to suppress potential competition or to coerce labor agreements or other payoffs from developers (a practice known as “greenmail”).

On October 30, 2012, a California appeals court ruled in Tuolumne Jobs & Small Business Alliance v. Superior Court of Tuolumne County (Wal-Mart and the City of Sonora, Real Parties in Interest) that a city cannot bypass CEQA and approve a project if voters qualify a ballot measure to approve the project.

The Sonora Planning Commission and the Sonora City Council didn’t seem to have objections to Wal-Mart in their town. “The legal battle slowing down Wal-Mart’s expansion frustrates Sonora Mayor Hank Russell,” according to an article in the November 19, 2012 Bay Citizen (Ruling Is Win for Environmental Law, Loss for Wal-Mart):

These people just want to delay a process that should be part of a free market economy. I don’t think it’s the city’s role to decide who can compete.

The League of California Cities and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association’s foundation submitted amicus briefs on behalf of the City of Sonora, which had won approval to bypass CEQA in Tuoloumne County Superior Court.

Meanwhile, the true identity of Tuolumne Jobs & Small Business Alliance does not appear to be public. Another mysterious group called CREED-21 (Citizens for Responsible Equitable Environmental Development) submitted an amicus brief on behalf of the Tuolumne Jobs & Small Business Alliance.

A variety of anonymous organizations purporting to represent local citizens challenge proposed Wal-Mart superstores (Wal-Marts that sell groceries) using CEQA. Some of these groups are reportedly fronts for the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union, which represents grocery store workers in the older, “legacy” grocery stores in California such as Safeway, Raley’s, Vons, Albertsons, Ralphs, Save Mart, and Stater Bros.

A November 21, 2011 California Watch article (Wal-Mart Ramps Up Ballot Threats to Speed New Stores) reported on the Wal-Mart ballot measure strategy and claimed it “raises questions about whether California’s communities – dogged by economic woes – can afford an aggressive use of the state’s system of direct democracy.”

I guess it would not be “progressive” to ask whether California’s communities – dogged by economic woes – can afford an aggressive misuse of the state’s environmental laws by unions and other leftist organizations that philosophically object to so-called “big box stores.” Has Wal-Mart ever considered releasing a list of the phony front groups and the names of the law firms that object to the Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs) and file CEQA lawsuits?

The law firm representing Tuolumne Jobs & Small Business Alliance is Herum Crabtree, based in Stockton. A web search indicates this firm has also used CEQA to challenge proposed Wal-Marts in the Northern California and Central California cities of Elk Grove, Lodi, Ceres, Tracy, American Canyon, Bakersfield, and Anderson.

Citizens for Responsible Equitable Environmental Development (CREED-21) is represented by the Briggs Law Corporation. A web search indicates this firm has used CEQA to challenge proposed Wal-Marts in the Southern California cities of Tehachapi, Apple Valley, Lake Forest, Victorville, Ontario, San Bernardino, Hesperia, Menifee, Gelndora, Barstow, Rialto, Murrieta, and Vista.

These are not the only law firms prominent in using CEQA to stop Wal-Mart.

A lawyer based in Davis named William D. Kopper has used CEQA to hinder the construction of Wal-Mart superstores. A web search indicates this firm has used CEQA to challenge proposed Wal-Marts in the Northern California cities of Redding, Red Bluff, Oroville, Linda, Yuba City, Galt, Stockton, Ukiah, Santa Rosa, and Gilroy. Kopper also exploits CEQA on behalf of construction trade unions seeking Project Labor Agreements from developers proposing private residential and commercial projects in Northern California.

The law firm of M.R. Wolfe & Associates, based in San Francisco, has used CEQA to challenge Wal-Mart projects. A web search indicates this firm has used CEQA to challenge proposed Wal-Marts in the Northern California and Central California cities of Antioch, Fremont, Hayward, Suisun City, Madera, Porterville, Visalia, Delano, Atascadero, and Rohnert Park.

Mark Wolfe used to work at the law firm of Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo, the CEQA lawyers of choice for California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE) and individual construction trade unions. I did not find any evidence through a web search that Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo has ever worked for a client who objected to a Wal-Mart on CEQA grounds.

Bakersfield Becomes Latest of California’s 121 Charter Cities to Free Itself from Government-Mandated Construction Wage Rates (So-Called “Prevailing Wage”)

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As I anticipated in my July 2, 2012 article Prediction: An Explosion of California Cities Freeing Themselves from Costly State-Mandated Construction Wage Rate Laws, the past three months have seen a flood of California cities seeking voter approval for charters, as well as existing charter cities establishing their own policies concerning government-mandated construction wage rates (so-called “prevailing wages”) for purely municipal construction (or private projects that receive government assistance only from the city).

These recent articles summarize what’s happening in California: Push for Charter Cities Enrages Unions and Cities Vying for Local Control on November Ballot.

Through its July 2012 decision in State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, ALF-CIO v. City of Vista, the California Supreme Court affirmed the right of California’s 121 charter cities to set their own prevailing wage policies for municipal construction and thereby free themselves from the costly, complicated, and nonsensical way that the State of California calculates state-mandated construction wage rates and defines public works.

For comprehensive information, see the 92-page guidebook Are Charter Cities Taking Advantage of State-Mandated Construction Wage Rate (“Prevailing Wage”) Exemptions?

Bakersfield is the latest charter city to establish its own policy concerning government-mandated construction wage rates. Hoping to sustain its economic boom and resist union-backed public policies dragging down economic growth and job creation in the state and other cities, the Bakersfield City Council voted 4-2 (with one city council member recusing himself) on October 17, 2012 to set its own policy. Here is the city’s agenda item description: Resolution exempting the City from prevailing wage requirements for locally funded public works contracts except where required by law.

Here’s a July 17, 2009 video report on KBAK Channel 29 (CBS) news featuring a comment from me about the need for the City of Bakersfield to free itself from state-mandated construction wage rates set based on collective bargaining agreements for urban areas: Prevailing Wage Wastes Tax Dollars in Bakersfield.

It was reported to me that unions brought busloads of people from Los Angeles to pack the council chamber, but the city council majority was not fooled and not intimidated. Here’s news coverage, with excerpts (bold highlights are mine):

Council Shakes Off Prevailing Wage Requirement – Bakersfield Californian – October 17, 2012

City staff also informally surveyed local contractors and were told that without the prevailing wage requirement, project costs could be cut by 3.5 percent to 30 percent

But just as many people spoke in favor of the resolution as against it, saying it would result in more efficient use of taxpayer money and wouldn’t lead to unfair construction wages or lower quality in projects.

“As a city council member, I have a fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers and the community to utilize funds with care and strive to provide the best value possible,” Weir said in an email earlier Wednesday. “With the approval of tonight’s resolution, we will be able to build better parks with more amenities, increase the amount of street repaving, and provide other benefits without additional cost to the taxpayers. To not pursue this opportunity would be a breach of my responsibility.”

Councilmembers added a late amendment to the resolution as a step to better protect against unqualified contractors bidding for city work. Before the resolution passed, projects valued at $1 million or more required that contractors be “pre-qualified” for their suitability to do the type of project at hand before being allowed to submit a bid. With the resolution, that threshold was lowered to $250,000.

Contractors, Unions Object to City Prevailing Wage Proposal – Bakersfield Californian –  October 16, 2012

City Manager Alan Tandy said savings for the city means more work can be done. Taking an example of 20 percent savings, he said, “If we save 20 percent on resurfacing a street, we can resurface 20 percent more streets. We have more that need resurfacing than we have money to resurface.”

Council Members Tackle High Speed Rail, Prevailing Wages in Heated Debate – KGET Channel 17 (NBC) news – October 18, 2012

Congratulations to the Bakersfield City Council. Under pressure and threats, they refused to payoff the unionsCalifornia Political News and Views – October 19, 2012

Will This Charter City Movement Lead to Genuine (or Any?) Prevailing Wage Reform?

Perhaps union officials in Bakersfield are realizing that “prevailing wage” as calculated under state law and “public works” as defined under state law are so outrageous that cities are intent on escaping them. Bakersfield’s own Assemblywoman Shannon Grove introduced two thoughtful and reasonable prevailing wage reform bills (Assembly Bill 987 and Assembly Bill 988) to make state-mandated government wage rates only apply to legitimate government projects and be more reflective of actual local market rates, but union lobbyists opposed these bills and Democrats defeated them in committee in January 2012.

In fact, as I reported in my April 20, 2012 article State-Mandated Construction Wage Rate Requirements Remain on California Projects Worth $1001 to $2000, union lobbyists and Legislative Democrats wouldn’t even support Assemblywoman Grove’s Assembly Bill 1958, which made two very modest changes to the state’s prevailing wage laws. That bill increased the project cost threshold for coverage from $1000 to $2000 to match the $2000 threshold set by the federal prevailing wage law called the Davis-Bacon Act. It also indexed the threshold to the same measure of inflation that the Democrats want to use for indexing the state minimum wage.

There WILL be a day when unions no longer control the California State Legislature and the Governor’s office. In the meantime, charter cities are exercising their own right to determine their economic destiny, and many of them don’t want to follow the direction of the State of California to inevitable bankruptcy.

Campbell’s Soup Food Processing Plant in Sacramento to Close, 700 Jobs to Other, Less “Enlightened” States

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UPDATE – 5:57 p.m. on September 27, 2012: Melissa Wiese at the Sacramento Business Journal reports that the closing of the Campbell’s Soup food processing plant in Sacramento will not affect the Campbell Cogeneration Power Plant, operated by a joint powers authority consisting of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) and the Modesto Irrigation District. According to Wiese, “SMUD diverts steam to the plant for Campbell. Now they won’t.” Good research and reporting!

Procter & Gamble Sacramento Campbell's Soup FacilityThe liberals who control California are already pointing out that Campbell’s Soup has been threatening to close its Sacramento food processing plant for at least 20 years, but today (September 27, 2012) it actually happened. Another manufacturing plant closes in California.

These jobs aren’t going to China. Campbell’s Soups will shift the Sacramento plant’s share of soup production to its plants in North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas. More people will be fleeing California.

At 10:25 a.m., there are already 500 comments posted at the Sacramento Bee article that went up on the web at 6:45 a.m about the closure. People are angry, and the majority of them are blaming state and local government.

Campbell Soup Announces Closing of Sacramento PlantSacramento Bee – September 27, 2012

To try to help Governor Jerry Brown and the Democrat majority in the legislature spin this job loss into a positive development for California, I posted my advice in a comment:

Does anyone know if the Campbell’s Soup Cogeneration Power Plant will be affected by this plant closure? It’s a 160 MW gas-fired power plant owned by the Sacramento Power Authority, a joint powers agency of Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) and the Modesto Irrigation District. There is some sort of codependent relationship between the food processing plant and the power plant related to the use of steam and water.

Spin Tips for Governor Brown and the Democrat majority in the legislature:

1. If the power plant closes along with the rest of the operation, declare the plant closure to be a good thing for California, because it reduces greenhouse gas emissions, brings the state closer to AB 32 guidelines, and becomes a “Global Warming Solution.”

2. Those workers were emitting a lot of greenhouse gases when they commuted to and from the plant from the suburbs – now they’ll be taking their dirty vehicle emissions to less enlightened states, apparently North Carolina, Texas, and Ohio. This helps the Sacramento Area Council of Governments to achieve its transportation goals under SB 375 (authored by Senator Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento).

3. California’s food nannies indicate that Campbell’s soups have a lot of salt in them, causing hypertension and public health problems in California. Kale is the healthy alternative.

See, those job losses aren’t so bad, people of California!

Fleeing California

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The Manhattan Institute – based in New York City – continues to fill the vacuum of free-market-oriented public policy research in California. (I’m glad someone, somewhere still cares about our plight in this state.) Today (September 24, 2012) it released a new study explaining the continued flight of middle class and lower-middle class people from California: The Great California Exodus: A Closer Look.

The NET outflow from California to other states since 1990 is 3.4 million. In percentage terms, California joins New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Illinois, and Michigan among the states where people are leaving at significant rates for metaphorically greener pastures. (Literally, they seem to be moving to the desert.)

In every region of California, more people are leaving than arriving. The Manhattan Institute study claims that people are leaving mainly to escape a difficult economic environment and a tax-and-spend political culture. They are seeking a lower cost of living, better management of public resources, and a business climate more suitable for economic growth and job creation.

Of course, motivations are in the eye of the beholder. From a perspective that puts a priority on environmental protection, departures from California (especially by adults of breeding age) are highly desirable. Many prosperous liberal Californians would opine that many of the people moving to other states lack sophistication, enlightenment, and social tolerance. The destinations of choice (ranked by the Manhattan Institute) elicit groans, snickers, and sneers from many of those who stay:

  1. Texas
  2. Nevada
  3. Arizona
  4. Oregon
  5. Washington
  6. Colorado
  7. Idaho
  8. Utah
  9. Georgia
  10. South Carolina

You can see both perspectives about this migration on full display in the 1629 comments posted in response to an article in the April 20, 2012 Wall Street Journal (Joel Kotkin: The Great California Exodus) about the flight of the middle class out of California. Someone who claims to have moved out of California three weeks earlier even commented with a top-ten list of reasons to leave (thus earning 117 reader recommendations):

  1. Artificially high Real Estate Prices, driven up by Government.
  2. Gov run by Unions without regard to the People of Cali.
  3. Failure to properly manage traffic, boondoggles on Rail as an example
  4. Idiotic Taxes at all levels
  5. Taxes spent on idiotic political projects
  6. Anti-American attitude of the Gov and Unions who run the state.
  7. Control mentality of the Politicians and Unions.
  8. Destruction of the California economy by Government and Unions.
  9. Attitude that the People work for the Gov.
  10. Lack of respect for non-liberals, and the law.

(Note: an appropriate California response to this list is that the word “idiotic” should not be used. It’s on the list of marginally un-PC words to avoid in public discourse.)

The observations of the Manhattan Institute are not new. In August 2000, the Public Policy Institute of California published a study called Movin’ Out: Domestic Migration to and from California in the 1990s. A press release announcing the study stated the following:

The 1990s marked a major shift in the domestic migration trends that have long characterized California. During the past decade, as many as two million more people left California to live in other states than came here from elsewhere in the United States, according to a new analysis by the Public Policy Institute of California. During most of the 20th century, domestic migration was a larger source of the state’s overall population growth than international immigration. The reverse is now true.

In Movin’ Out: Domestic Migration to and from California in the 1990s, demographer Hans Johnson finds that most domestic migrants left the state in the recession years of the early 1990s. However, he finds that California was still losing as many residents to other states as it was gaining during the boom times later in the decade.

In addition, for a few years I’ve heard critics of Big Government make speeches in which they cite the cost to rent a U-Haul from somewhere in California to Austin and compare it to the cost to rent a U-Haul from Austin to somewhere in California. The idea to make this comparison (called “U-Haul Economics” by a Club for Growth blogger or the “U-Haul Economic Indicator” by an American Enterprise Institute blogger) may originate with a study produced for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) called Rich States, Poor States. Numerous sources on the web claim that the 2009 edition contained this quote:

When comparing California with Texas, U-Haul says it all. To rent a 26-foot truck one way from San Francisco to Austin, the charge is $3,236, and yet the one-way charge for that same truck from Austin to San Francisco is just $399. Clearly what is happening is that far more people want to move from San Francisco to Austin than vice versa, so U-Haul has to pay its own employees to drive the empty trucks back from Texas.

Here are U-Haul prices as of today (September 24, 2012) for picking up a 20-foot truck on October 1:

Los Angeles to Austin: $1,376.00

Austin to Los Angeles: $678.00

San Francisco to Austin: $1,682.00

Austin to San Francisco: $735.00

How would Governor Jerry Brown and Democrat legislative leaders explain that away? Perhaps they would brush it off by exposing the American Legislative Exchange Council as a “right-wing organization” that advances regressive ideas such as limited government, free markets, and federalism. And the “U-Haul Economic Indicator” is worthless because it is used by the “right-wing” Club for Growth and the “right-wing” American Enterprise Institute.

Applying these labels typically brings finality to most public policy arguments in California. No wonder people want to leave.

Personally, I hope people eventually stop moving out of California, because soon the remnant will consist of rich people who don’t pay taxes, poor people who don’t pay taxes, and a small middle class that works in government. I don’t make enough money to keep this system operating for all of them.

Exclusive: Copies of the Two Appeals of the Conditional Use Permit Approved for a Proposed Chick-fil-A in Mountain View, California (San Francisco Bay Area)

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I predicted in a July 30, 2012 post that Chick-fil-A is about to become very familiar with how the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) can be an unpleasant and costly obstacle to building and operating anything in California. The first test of this prediction may occur in the City of Mountain View, near San Jose in Silicon Valley. 

On July 11, 2012, the Zoning Administrator for the City of Mountain View approved a Conditional Use Permit for a Chick-fil-A to replace a Sizzler restaurant (that refused to pay the rent) after receiving a recommendation from the city’s Development Review Committee and after holding a public hearing, as required under the Mountain View Municipal Code Section A36.60.040.

According to the Mountain View Municipal Code Section A36.60.010, “Conditional Use Permits allow for activities and uses which are not routinely permitted within the subject Zone District and need to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine whether the activity or use is appropriate for a particular location, including its compatibility with existing uses. Any Conditional Use Permit granted may be subject to conditions that will ensure that the use as proposed and conducted will be compatible with the intent of the applicable Zone District and other uses in the area.”

Section A36.80.100 of the Mountain View Municipal Code allows someone to file an appeal of the Zoning Administrator’s decision within ten days after the decision is mailed. The Chick-fil-A controversy broke on July 16, and this routine zoning approval on July 11 suddenly received a lot of scrutiny.

Two parties filed appeals. Failing to find these appeals posted anywhere, I asked the Planning Division of the City of Mountain View (near San Jose in Silicon Valley) to email me copies of the two appeals of the Conditional Use Permit. Links to the appeals are below.

The first and primary appeal that will be considered by the Mountain View City Council was filed by David Speakman, a resident who acknowledges to the news media that his appeal is motivated in part on his opposition to Chick-fil-A corporate activities and statements concerning same-sex marriage. His appeal does not mention this motivation, but it lists the typical issues that have also popped up in objections to In-N-Out burgers in several locations in the state: cutting down of heritage trees, garish signage, traffic congestion, greenhouse gas emissions from cars idling in drive-through lanes, failure to confirm with the city’s general plan that encourages bicycle use, noise, and trash. The appeal concludes with a derogatory reference to “junk food.”

David Speakman Appeal of Mountain View Chick-fil-A (Appeal No. 1)

A second appeal was filed by resident Bruce England, who asserts that his objections are based on his concerns about the environmental impact to the neighborhood, particularly to renters in multi-tenant apartment buildings nearby. His appeal also cites greenhouse gas emissions from idling cars, traffic congestion, noise, the glare of headlights at night, production of waste, cutting down of heritage trees, and failure to conform with the city’s general plan, a specific neighborhood plan, and the plan developed by the city’s Environmental Sustainability Task Force. 

Bruce England Appeal of Mountain View Chick-fil-A (Appeal No. 2)

It will be interesting to see how the Mountain View City Council handles these appeals and if these appeals ultimately result in the need for the City of Mountain View to work with Chick-fil-A in the development of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) under CEQA.


Groups Set to Appeal Chick-Fil-A – Mountain View Voice – July 18, 2012

Opponents Can’t Stomach Chick-fil-A’s Plans in Mountain View – San Jose Mercury-News – July 20, 2012

Gay Marriage Supporters File Chick-Fil-A Appeal – Mountain View Voice – July 27, 2012

Chick-fil-A’s Plans for Mountain View Draw More Opposition – San Jose Mercury-News – August 2, 2012

Union Exploitation of CEQA to Coerce Project Labor Agreements from California Solar Energy Power Plant Developers Will Be EXPOSED at August 6 Kings County Planning Commission Meeting

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During the past ten years, public testimony at several specific government meetings has initiated exposure of “greenmail” to a wide audience. The general public learns how construction unions and their environmental lawyers exploit California’s environmental protection laws to squeeze union-only Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) out of private developers. Not surprisingly, the public reaction is overwhelmingly negative.

Here are some of the most prominent specific examples of these past meetings:

  • The July 24, 2007 meeting of the Fresno City Council
  • The July 21, 2004 and August 2, 2006 meetings of the Roseville City Council
  • The October 21, 2008 meeting of the Kern County Board of Supervisors
  • The November 4, 2008 meeting of the Placer County Board of Supervisors
  • The February 8, 2011 meeting of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors

Now it looks like August 6, 2012 will be added to this list.

The August 6, 2012 meeting agenda for the Kings County Planning Commission includes this item under New Business:

2. Conditional Use Permit No. 11-09 (RE Mustang LLC) – The applicant proposes to establish a 160 Megawatt solar photovoltaic energy facility located at 15866 25th Avenue, Lemoore, CA. The proposed project is located on Assessor’s Parcel Numbers 024-260-004, 010, 011, and 016; 024-270-001, 004, 006, 007, 008, 010, 015, 016, 018, 022, 023, 024, and 025.

The Mustang Solar Generation Project in Lemoore is proposed by Recurrent Energy, a solar power plant developer based in San Francisco. The proposal comes with a special deal for a union: see the Project Labor Agreement imposed on this project here.

Unions Exploit CEQA to Win Costly Monopolies on Solar Power Plant Construction

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local No. 100 in Fresno has retained the law firm of Adams, Broadwell, Joseph & Cardozo to block or threaten to block solar power plants in the San Joaquin Valley using CEQA – the California Environmental Quality Act (California Public Resources Code Section 21000 et seq.).

While there is no way of knowing the exact amount spent on this legal activity or who pays for it, the IBEW Local No. 100 LM-2 annual report for 2011 filed with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards indicates that the union spent $20,117 for legal services from Adams, Broadwell, Joseph & Cardozo.

The union motivation is not to save Mother Earth (Gaia), but to coerce the developer into signing a Project Labor Agreement with the IBEW (and often other unions). Once this happens, union environmental concerns go away, and union officials start showing up at government meetings to support the project. See the minutes of the November 7, 2011 meeting of the Kings County Planning Commission for a brazen example of this racket:

Mr. [Sandy] Roper [Principal Planner for the Kings County Community Development Agency] reported that the applicant has entered into a written agreement with the commenter for the Union Group agreeing not to challenge the project…Kevin Cole, business manager for the electrician’s [sic] union organization, stated they are very pleased with Solar Projects Solutions and are in favor of the project.

And an article in the November 8, 2011 Hanford Sentinel newspaper entitled “Four Solar Projects Get County OK” also alluded to the union monopoly:

Also in attendance Tuesday night were representatives of electrical contractors and unions hit hard by the loss of construction jobs as a result of the recession. They praised the projects, saying they would provide badly needed work.

“We have been decimated by the economy,” said Kevin Cole, business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union branch in Fresno. “This is an excellent opportunity to get my men and apprentices back to work.”

The electrical contractor representative was Matt Furrer, branch manager for Contra Costa Electric, Inc., a unionized contractor in a collective bargaining agreement with the IBEW.

On Behalf of California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE), Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo submitted a Records Request to Kings County on the Mustang Solar Project

Click here to read the January 27, 2012 letter from the law firm of Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo on behalf of California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE) requesting notification about any environmental documents or hearings concerning Recurrent Energy’s Mustang Solar Project. Could this be considered a shot across the bow?

Study the Project Labor Agreement for the Mustang Solar Project

All electrical contractors that work on the Recurrent Energy Mustang Solar Generation Project will be required to sign and abide by this Project Labor Agreement with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local No. 100, based in Fresno. If Recurrent Energy sells the project or another developer gets the project after a bankruptcy proceeding, the Project Labor Agreement comes with the package. (See Section 12)

This Project Labor Agreement locks a broad swath of work under the jurisdiction of the IBEW, obviously to prevent unions representing other trades (such as the Laborers) from getting a piece of the action. (See Sections 3.1 and 3.2) It states that the union will be the sole source of all craft employees for work covered under the Project Labor Agreement. (See Section 6.3) It requires all contractor employees performing that work to be or become and remain members of the union in good standing – in other words, pay union dues and fees. (See Section 6.2)

According to the IBEW Local No. 100 LM-2 annual report for 2011 filed with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, regular dues and fees ranged between $15.30 and $29.30 per month, working dues ranged between 2.5% and 5.0% of gross pay per hour, and initiation fees ranged between $25.00 and $102.00.)

Who developed this Project Labor Agreement? Section 13.8 lists four interested parties to receive any notices related to it:

  1. Judith A. Hall, Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the victim, Recurrent Energy.
  2. John S. (Rocky) Miller Jr., an attorney with the law firm of Cox, Castle & Nicholson LLP in Los Angeles who often represents construction trade associations, contractors, and developers in negotiations for union agreements. It might be a good guess that he helped to negotiate the Project Labor Agreement on behalf of Recurrent Energy.
  3. Kevin Cole, Business Manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local No. 100, based in Fresno.
  4. Daniel Cardozo of the law firm of Adams, Broadwell, Joseph & Cardozo.

The agreement was signed on April 9, 2012.

Local Workers Have Had Enough of the IBEW Environmental Scam

It’s expected that the August 6 meeting of the Kings County Planning Commission will be packed with local non-union electricians intent on deriding the IBEW union for its anti-competitive, monopoly-seeking CEQA abuse. Here are excerpts from an email now circulating among community leaders in Kings County:

Between the High Speed Rail Authority and the flood of solar energy power plant developers, you’re probably sick of outsiders intruding into Kings County.

You may have heard that a law firm out of South San Francisco called Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo has been identifying alleged environmental problems with the proposed solar power plant projects in the San Joaquin Valley, including in Fresno, Tulare, Kern, and Kings counties.

And then all of a sudden, they don’t see anything wrong with the projects anymore.

Construction unions hire the law firm of Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo to exploit the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and block proposed solar projects until the developer surrenders and agrees to sign a “Project Labor Agreement” that gives unions monopoly control of building the project. See the Project Labor Agreement for the proposed Recurrent Energy Mustang Solar Generation Project in Lemoore here.

Once these union monopolies are secured, the proposed projects become the most wonderful, planet-saving, global warming-fighting projects ever seen. The projects suddenly have the power to save the Santa Cruz Boardwalk from drowning in the ocean, and snow will forever fall in the Sierras.

Of course, there are additional greenhouse gas emissions as union workers drive into Kings County from the Bay Area to work on the projects, but that is not a concern to the unions.

Now, there are some problems with this arrangement:

  1. How will these solar power developers in Kings County make a profit if they have to give unions the construction and maintenance work on their costly terms without any sort of legitimate competition?
  2. Will these power plants become rusting, weed-tangled eyesores after the state loses interest in the “Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006” and the developers have to pay up on their loans?
  3. Will anyone from Kings County actually get a chance to build these projects, with hundreds of unemployed union workers in the big cities waiting for dispatch from the hiring hall “out-of-work” lists to distant jobs in the San Joaquin Valley?

On Monday, August 6 at 7:00 p.m. at the Kings County Administration Building No. 1 (1400 West Lacey Boulevard in Hanford), the Kings County Planning Commission will consider approval of some of these solar energy projects.

Union officials will be there as usual to support the projects and talk about how wonderful they are for the planet. But this time, there will be a response to their cynical Public Relations campaign.

We will be there to distribute their Project Labor Agreement, expose their “greenmail,” and shame them and their San Francisco lawyers back to union headquarters, so they won’t return until they build the High Speed Rail through your communities. (Speaking of union-only construction projects under Project Labor Agreements that could become rusting, weed-entangled eyesores after the state loses interest in fighting global warming…)

Won’t you join us to watch or participate in the Kings County Extortion Exposure Party? Once again, it’s on Monday, August 6 at 7:00 p.m. at the Kings County Administration Building No. 1 (1400 West Lacey Boulevard in Hanford).

Public Exposure of Greenmail Can Be Very Embarassing for Unions and Their Lawyers

This will not be the first time that local businesses, business groups, and workers have publicly criticized the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local No. 100 in Fresno and their hired South San Francisco law firm of Adams, Broadwell, Joseph & Cardozo.

On July 24, 2007, the Fresno City Council voted 7-0 to reject a baseless and absurd public appeal objecting on environmental grounds to the city council’s approval of a two-megawatt solar panel system to supply energy to Fresno International Airport. The appeal was filed by the law firm of Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo on behalf of the Fresno-based International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 100.

Representatives of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) and the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction spoke before the city council and described how unions and this law firm exploit California’s environmental laws to delay projects and increase project costs in order to extort Project Labor Agreements and other commitments from developers to use union workers. Representatives of the Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce and the California Solar Energy Industries Association (Cal-SEIA) also expressed general concerns about the legitimacy of the appeal.

While some city council members appreciated ABC’s exposure of the “greenmail” racket, other city council members were furious about it. Councilman Mike Dages declared ABC’s statements to be “rude” (apparently he was referring to my blunt comments about reality), insulted the developer, and insinuated that the appeal was justified to force the developer to “work with the unions.” By the end of the hearing, it was obvious that everyone in the council chamber recognized that the appeal was about Project Labor Agreements and not about the potential environmental damage caused by solar panels. See the meeting minutes here.

The July 25, 2007 Fresno Bee newspaper article “Fresno Won’t Halt Airport Project” reported on the union appeal and the hostile response. And the developer successfully built the project in the end without a Project Labor Agreement.

Prediction: Chick-fil-A Will Soon Become Acquainted with How the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Is Wielded for Purposes Unrelated to Environmental Protection

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As someone who has spent 15 years tracking and exposing how labor unions exploit the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to block proposed projects in pursuit of objectives unrelated to environmental protection, I predict Chick-fil-A is about to join Wal-Mart and large solar power plant developers as a favorite California target of “greenmail,” or environmental permit extortion.

Based on the latest developments outlined below, one can conclude that the days are over of city planning staff in California quietly granting routine zoning variances for Chick-fil-A. Soon the company will be dealing with lawsuits demanding lengthy and costly Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs), and after those reports are completed and the projects are approved, then there will be more lawsuits challenging the adequacy of the reports and the steps for environmental mitigation.

Obvious weak points for Chick-fil-A are traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles idling in drive-through lines. In-N-Out Burger has dealt with these issues in recent years (recent examples being neighborhood resistance in Studio City, Santa RosaPleasant Hill, and Seaside), but Chick-fil-A will surely provide ripe new opportunities for environmental law firms to test their theories and hone their skills in blocking proposed fast food restaurants.

Chick-fil-A and Wal-Mart: Two Southern-Based Corporations Destined to Face Resistance in California

The Chick-fil-A venture into California is similar to the experience of Wal-Mart as it expanded out of the South and began moving into the very different political, religious, and socio-economic culture of the major metropolitan areas of California and the Northeast. Wal-Mart entered California quietly in the 1990s, but as it began operating in the cities and seeking approval for “Supercenters” that sell groceries, it started to get hammered by a broad coalition of unions, environmental groups, academics, and activists who represented innumerable “progressive” interests. Underlying these interests were subtle class connotations: California’s elite recoiled from the values, priorities, and business practices of the South.

In the mid-2000s, Wal-Mart frequently dealt with environmental objections backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union. For example, William D. Kopper, an attorney based in Davis, took various actions to block approval of Wal-Marts in several California cities, including in Oroville, Stockton, Galt, Santa Rosa, Redding, Ukiah, and Gilroy. (Kopper also did the same kind of work for construction unions seeking Project Labor Agreements from developers.) The UFCW found local allies among a variety of community groups and local activists determined to keep Wal-Mart out of their town.

Now Chick-fil-A has moved into the same regions and invited the same responses. Like Wal-Mart, it moved in quietly, opening its first Southern California locations (eight of them) in 2004 and its first Northern California location in Roseville (a suburb of Sacramento) in October 2005. Since then outlets have been popping up throughout the state. It is finally daring to move into the San Francisco Bay Area, and people are taking notice.

Chick-fil-A in the San Francisco Bay Area – It’s Going to Be a Tough Road Ahead

The Mayor of San Francisco – Ed Lee – received national news media attention last week for jumping on the Chick-fil-A commentary bandwagon with his back-to-back Tweets on July 26:

Edwin Lee @mayoredlee

Very disappointed #ChickFilA doesn’t share San Francisco’s values & strong commitment to equality for everyone.

Closest #ChickFilA to San Francisco is 40 miles away & I strongly recommend that they not try to come any closer.

This Chick-fil-A location 40 miles from San Francisco and referenced by Mayor Lee is the corporation’s current equivalent of Fort Ross, the southernmost frontier post of the Russian Empire in Alta California. Fort Ross was founded in 1812 as Russia penetrated deep into Spanish-claimed territory in what is now Sonoma County.

You can visit Fort Ross today (it’s a state park), and you can also visit the only operating San Francisco Bay Area Chick-fil-A in Fairfield, just off I-80 at the Travis Boulevard exit next to the Westfield Solano Mall.

This is the closest Chick-fil-A to San Francisco: 40 miles away, in Fairfield.

It opened in September 2011. San Francisco Bay Area TV news crews (such as Channel 7 and Channel 2) have showed up there recently for local visuals and interviews with customers.

According to the Chick-fil-A web site, an establishment will open in San Jose on August 16. There will be protests. Another one will open in Walnut Creek on September 20, and a protest is already being planned.

There is likely to be disruption if the planned Chick-fil-A ever opens in Santa Rosa, according to an article in the July 25 Santa Rosa Press-Democrat newspaper. That proposed restaurant had already generated controversy: the Santa Rosa City Council had voted 5-2 at its May 22 meeting to grant approval to build the Chick-fil-A at the site of a vacant Burger King after the Santa Rosa Planning Commission had rejected it on a 3-3-1 vote at its April 12 meeting. Opponents cited the greenhouse gas emissions of vehicles in the planned drive-through lane and general objections to fast food. (See the city staff report here.)

One Santa Rosa City Council member who voted against the Chick-fil-A was Susan Gorin, who is in a highly-competitive race for a seat on the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. I’m guessing she’ll be trying to ride this high-profile issue to victory in November.

Note that the Chick-fil-A planned for Santa Rosa “is also proposing to incorporate Public Art in Private Development and is currently working with the City parks department to find an artist.” This may become another interesting angle: who will be the artist, and will a subversive message be expressed through the public art?

Meanwhile, in Mountain View (a suburb of San Jose), two citizens raised $1000 to challenge a “routine zoning variance” from city staff to allow a Chick-fil-A to build an outlet there. This article from the July 20 San Jose Mercury-News indicates that they intend to use traffic-related concerns to stop it:

“We need to make our city better – more sidewalk and bicycle friendly – not worse by increasing the number of cars driving up and over our sidewalks to speed in and get fast food,” the appeal states. “The convenience of drive-thru junk food is not worth the increased danger the traffic poses to our citizens.”

This campaign in Mountain View has a fundraising site and is reportedly receiving support from former city councilmember and State Senate candidate Sally Lieber, who is best known for introducing a bill to ban (child) spanking when she was in the California State Assembly. Lieber has a highly competitive race against another Democrat for this seat.

Chick-fil-A in Southern California: Potential for Trouble There, Too

A Chick-fil-A operating in West Hollywood was profiled in this article in the Los Angeles Times on July 28. Meanwhile, a Chick-fil-A opened in Laguna Hills (in Orange County) on July 26 and experienced an opening day protest, as reported here in the Los Angeles Times and here in the Orange County Register.

According to the Chick-fil-A web site, Chick-fil-A outlets will open in Westlake Village (in Los Angeles County) on August 30, Buena Park (in Orange County) on September 13, and Encinitas (in San Diego County) on September 20.

An Unexpected Opportunity for the Public to Learn About Misuse of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

One of the frustrations of trying to educate the public about CEQA abuse by labor unions is that many reporters completely miss how the fundamental issue at play has nothing to do with environmental concerns. They take the comments, data requests, and lawsuits at face value.

Of course, the legal arguments on the surface are simply a public charade, while the real underlying issue (pressuring the developer to sign a union agreement or trying to block non-union competition) stays hidden from the public. With the upcoming environmental objections to Chick-fil-A, the underlying issue will never be mentioned in the legal documents, but the objective will be apparent and understood by all observers.

Is the California Republican Party Caught in a Failure Chain?

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UPDATE: the California Republican Party chairman Tom Del Beccaro has posted a statement on the Facebook page in response to the New York Times article. He writes “The New York Times piece is grossly inaccurate. It reads like someone who wrote it by doing minimal surface research and calling the usual suspects/detractors.” He also sees hope in the November 2012 elections: “This November, Prop 32 could well pass bring reforms to our system including barring direct contributions from corporations and unions and paycheck protection. When that passes, California will have a more level playing field, Republicans will have a new day and be rather competitive statewide.”

Remember this old slogan of Huntington Learning Center from the late 1980s and early 1990s: “Is Your Child Caught in a Failure Chain?”

I always snickered when I heard or saw those advertisements.

An article in the January 23, 2012 New York Times (“In Ads, Learning Problems Get a ‘Solution’“) reported that the company has “rebranded” its advertising to be more upbeat and positive. According to the article, “Huntington’s spots became known for their stern, stentorian approach and just-the-facts style, in depicting conflicts between parents and children over bad grades and poor performance in school.”

Maybe Huntington Learning Center (now Huntington Your Tutoring Solution) has abandoned the stern, stentorian approach and a depiction of conflicts over poor performance, but the New York Times finds such an approach to be still appropriate when reporting on the California Republican Party. And I’m sure smug urban liberal educated New York Times readers are snickering as they read the July 22, 2012 article “Republican Party in California Is Caught in Cycle of Decline.”

I agree with the general theme of the article, that the California Republican Party should be thriving as the Democrats drive the state into economic oblivion, but instead it is “caught in a cycle of relentless decline, and appears in danger of shrinking to the rank of a minor party.”

Suggested reasons for the Republican Party decline in California include the usual suspects: not supporting government benefits for illegal immigrants, holding onto old-fashioned traditional positions on sexuality-related issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage, and not supporting the environment, which I’m assuming refers to the Republican Party wanting to reform the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and voting against the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (Assembly Bill 32).

In a shocking case of journalistic oversight, the article neglected to blame the California Republican Party’s decline on its opposition to further restrictions on gun ownership. How did that favorite Democrat talking point slip through the cracks?

The suggested solutions from people quoted in the article include abandoning ”ideology,” no longer being “doctrinaire,” being “welcoming of dissent,” and ceasing to resemble a “cult” that tries to punish “heretics.” Then perhaps the “changing electorate” might vote for a Republican sometimes.

This makes sense, since the California Democratic Party has been extremely successful through being very open-minded and tolerant, accepting a broad spectrum of ideological views and doctrines, and never imposing discipline on its elected officials when they don’t support the political agenda of unions and all the other leftist groups in the state that provide them with financial and organizational backing. (Ha – just joking, of course.)

Also, the article claims that the Republican decline began in 1994, when the California Republican Party and Republican Governor Pete Wilson supported Proposition 187, which cut off government benefits in certain circumstances to illegal immigrants. Allegedly this ballot measure offended so many Californians that only old white people wanted to vote for a Republican again.

Strangely, California voters enacted Proposition 187 in 1994 despite being offended by it. And California voters also enacted Proposition 8 in November 2008 to prohibit same-sex marriage, even as Democrat candidates experienced huge election victories at all levels of government. How does this agree with the theories cited for Republican decline in California?

The article doesn’t mention unions at all. That in itself indicates to me that the article may not be on the right track.


In an upcoming post, I will outline a detailed strategic long-term plan to reverse course and advance economic and personal freedom in California. The plan will provide numerous roles and opportunities for ordinary, average Californians who see the problems in this state but don’t see any alternatives to an inevitable slide to bankruptcy.

I’ve been working on this project for many months and have a very different perspective from the conventional wisdom that has been bandied about by the news media for 15 years about the California Republican Party’s decline.

I won’t be directing my plan to the California Republican Party’s structural apparatus, which really doesn’t care what I think unless I can back up my ideas with a lot of money donated to the Republican Party and its various committees and candidates. Ironically, that relentless obession with money as the silver bullet/easy solution is one of the biggest reasons for the decline of the California Republican Party.

Intellectual ideas are the foundation for a successful and enduring political party. Money is simply a tool for the party to achieve goals that are part of a mission, all in pursuit of a vision. “Raising more money for campaigns” is not a vision that can change the future of the State of California, despite the impression one gets from many prominent leaders of the Republican political establishment.

More later…