Surprising no one, California loses another business to Texas

July 20, 2014

Moving

This time, Perry’s Poachers have snagged Omnitracs LLC of San Diego, a fleet management firm that will be moving to Dallas and taking 450 jobs with it:

Fleet management software company Omnitracs LLC will relocate it headquarters to Dallas from San Diego, creating 450 jobs and $10 million in capital investment, Gov. Rick Perry’s office announced Friday.

The company will move into KPMG Centre downtown.

Omnitracs is the latest in a wave of California relocations to North Texas announced this spring and summer.
The Texas Enterprise Fund is providing a $3.9 million incentive to attract Omnitracs. The new headquarters will house jobs in a variety of high-paying fields, including engineering, research and development and finance.

Omnitracs provides fleet management solutions for the trucking industry. Its services include software applications, GPS fleet tracking, platforms and information services.

Omnitracs is just the latest in a long line of businesses that have fled or are about to flee the once-Golden State. The article lists others, including Toyota, and mentions Vista Equity Partners, a California firm that specializes in buying firms and moving them to Texas.

Yes, the one business that California can keep is one that helps others get the heck out.

Well, we bloody well deserve it, with a business climate that’s designed to drive people away, not bring them here. I’m old enough to remember when California was a place to people rushed to, in order to build a future.

Now, thanks to 40 years of progressive misrule, they rush to get out, in order to save what future they have left.

via Stephen Frank

RELATED: Victor Davis Hanson, a fellow Californian, on our frivolous legislature. Must reading.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


California Senate passes $13 minimum wage, jobs flee in terror

June 1, 2014
"But at least we won the election! Obama!!"

“But at least they raised the minimum wage!”

Perhaps they didn’t want to be left behind by their progressive friends in Seattle, but the California State Senate last Wednesday passed a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $13 per hour by 2017. From the legislative analyst’s summary:

SB 935, as amended, Leno. Minimum wage: annual adjustment.

Existing law requires that, on and after July 1, 2014, the minimum wage for all industries be not less than $9 per hour. Existing law further increases the minimum wage, on and after January 1, 2016, to not less than $10 per hour.

This bill would increase the minimum wage, on and after January 1, 2015, to not less than $11 per hour, on and after January 1, 2016, to not less than $12 per hour, and on and after January 1, 2017, to not less than $13 per hour. The bill would require the automatic adjustment of the minimum wage annually thereafter, to maintain employee purchasing power diminished by the rate of inflation during the previous year. The adjustment would be calculated using the California Consumer Price Index, as specified. The bill would prohibit the Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) from reducing the minimum wage and from adjusting the minimum wage if the average percentage of inflation for the previous year was negative. The bill would require the IWC to publicize the automatically adjusted minimum wage.

The bill would provide that its provisions not be construed to preclude the IWC from increasing the minimum wage to an amount greater than the calculation would provide or to preclude or supersede an increase of the minimum wage that is greater than the state minimum wage by any local government or tribal government.
The bill would apply to all industries, including public and private employment.

(h/t California Political Review)

“Leno” is Senator Mark Leno, whose district includes, naturally, San Francisco. You can kind of guess his politics. (He also backed a bill allowing children to have more than two parents. Yes, you read that right.) He’s also a prime example of Thomas Sowell’s observation about politicians who don’t have to suffer the consequences of decisions they impose on others. In this case, causing the cost of labor to skyrocket forces business owners to decide whether to pass on the cost to consumers, cut workers’ hours or whole jobs, or go out of business. As the head of CKE Restaurants told CNBC, people are doing all three:

CKE Restaurants’ roots began in California roughly seven decades ago, but you won’t see the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s expanding there much anymore.

What’s causing what company CEO Andy Puzder describes as “very little growth” in the state?

In part it’s because “the minimum wage is so high so it’s harder to come up with profitable business models,” Puzder said in an interview. The state’s minimum wage is set to rise to $9 in July, making it among the nation’s highest, and $10 by January 2016.

In cities in other states where the minimum wage has gone up considerably, Puzder said “franchisees are closing locations” after riding out lease expirations.

If the federal minimum hourly pay shoots up to $10.10 from the current $7.25—as many lawmakers and President Barack Obama are advocating—Puzder predicts fewer entry-level jobs will be created. If this happens, CKE would also create fewer positions, he forecast.

A recent nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office study also predicted mass job losses, estimating that a hike to $10.10 could result in a loss of about half a million jobs by late 2016, even as it lifted many above the poverty line.

(h/t California Political Review)

For some reason, I don’t think those who lose their jobs because of the wage increase will see themselves as “lifted out of poverty.”

Minimum-wage jobs are not meant to be lifelong careers. For people just entering the labor market, they’re ways to acquire skills needed to move on to better-paying jobs. For others, they’re a means to bring in additional, supplementary income into the household. The pro-increase arguments distort facts and wrap them in myth, all to disguise what is really a wealth redistribution program.

CKE’s Puzder goes on to relate how, when minimum wage increases are combined with the added expenses imposed by Obamacare, franchisees have chosen not to open new restaurants or have even closed locations, meaning these are jobs lost. But they do it because they can get a better return on their investment money elsewhere, such as by putting it in bonds.

It’s called economic common sense, something Senator Leno and his colleagues are woefully lacking in.

PS: SB 935 has now gone to the Assembly, and I will be shocked if it doesn’t pass. It’s frightening to think we have to rely on Governor Brown to be the sane one in the room and veto this bill when it shows up on his desk.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Governor ‘Moonbeam’ beclowns himself over sea level rise at LAX airport

May 13, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Sigh. And yet he’s sure to win reelection. I weep.

Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:

Proof positive politicians can’t do simple math.

From the LA Times today:Brown_LAX_SLR

Brown’s remarks came a day after the release of two studies finding that a slow-motion and irreversible collapse of a massive cluster of glaciers in Antarctica has begun and could cause sea levels to rise worldwide by four feet within 200 years.

“If that happens, the Los Angeles airport’s going to be underwater,” Brown told reporters at a presentation of his revised state budget proposal in Los Angeles. “So is the San Francisco airport.”

Source: http://www.latimes.com/local/political/la-me-pc-brown-sea-level-airports-20140513-story.html

Ok let’s do the math, first a look at the sea level rate from the Los Angeles tide gauge operated by NOAA:

View original 424 more words


Why California is doomed in 12 figures

May 9, 2014
The new flag of California

The new flag of California

Per this KFI article, the state’s total debt –that is, our debt– is $340,000,000,000. $340 billion. Three-hundred and forty billion dollars:

California faces $340 billion in debts, or more than $8,500 for each of its 38 million residents, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office said Wednesday in recommending that the state set priorities for paying down its key long-term liabilities.

The state should first address the $73.7 billion shortfall in the teachers’ retirement system, a debt that could cost the state, teachers and school districts a combined $5 billion a year to resolve over 30 years. Without changes, the system serving 868,000 members is projected to run out of money by 2046.

Paying down the $64.6 billion shortfall in health benefits for 277,000 retired state employees and their dependents should come next. That could cost the state $1.8 billion a year over 30 years, the analyst said, but getting started sooner would dramatically reduce costs over the long run.

The report comes a month before the state’s budget is due and feeds legislative debates over whether the state should spend or save its budget surplus and how to create a rainy day fund that would go before voters in November for their approval. It was released a week before Gov. Jerry Brown unveils his revised budget recommendations.

“I think it underscores what the governor has said for quite some time, which is that we have significant liabilities that we need to address,” said H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the state Department of Finance.

There’s the understatement of the year. And I’ll bet dollars to donuts that doesn’t include local government debt.

This is insanity. If California were a normal family or business, we’d have been forced into bankruptcy court for liquidation, and the marshal would be holding a sale.

The article goes on to talk vaguely about Governor Brown’s plans for paying down this debt and for reestablishing a “rainy day fund,” but I would take that talk more seriously, if it weren’t coming from a man still wedded to his high-speed rail boondoggle and his plan to dig giant tunnels to move water around the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta. No one can talk fiscal responsibility and back those rolling fiascoes.

And the state’s budget surplus? Please. As the article correctly notes, this is from transient factors. Capital gains taxes are a one-time revenue source, and the Prop 30 tax increase will bring in more revenue only until the gouged high-income earners move to Florida or Texas. That surplus is as ephemeral as the state’s good credit.

Three-hundred and forty billion dollars. The mind just boggles that our so-called betters in Sacramento could have been so irresponsible. How’d we get here? I can think of a few reasons:

  • Creating a full-time legislature with professional legislators who will pander to the right donor groups to keep their cushy jobs, instead of acting in the interests of the broad public. Allowing both houses to be elected by population, thus assuring domination by the urban megalopolises at the expense of other regions.
  • Allowing public employee unions. Even FDR knew those were against the public interest. Eventually, and inevitably, they fell into a corrupt kickback arrangement with the professional legislators, an arrangement that has helped lead us to our massive debt.
  • Allowing ourselves to slip into a one-party state in which the governing spectrum ranges from liberal left to loony left. There’s no real opposition to put more than an occasional check on the worst tendencies of the Democratic majority, or its corruption.
  • And finally, We The People, ourselves. Far too few of us pay any attention to what goes on in Sacramento or on the many boards that operate (supposedly) in our name, far too many of us take at their word what the pols and their backers say without exercising the responsibilities of citizenship and examining them critically — and firing them when needed.

Until the day comes when we find ourselves stuck with a $340 billion bill.

To paraphrase Andrew Breitbart, how do you screw up paradise?

It will take decades to clean this mess up and, even if we can find the right people to do it, can we convince the voters to take the needed bitter medicine?

I just don’t know.


Fleeing California: Toyota takes its business (and its jobs) to Texas

April 28, 2014

Moving

Oh, man, this is just a gut punch to the Southern California economy:

Toyota Motor Corp. plans to move large numbers of jobs from its sales and marketing headquarters in Torrance to suburban Dallas, according to a person familiar with the automaker’s plans.

The move, creating a new North American headquarters, would put management of Toyota’s U.S. business close to where it builds most cars for this market.

North American Chief Executive Jim Lentz is expected to brief employees Monday, said the person, who was not authorized to speak publicly. Toyota declined to detail its plans. About 5,300 people work at Toyota’s Torrance complex. It is unclear how many workers will be asked to move to Texas. The move is expected to take several years.

I don’t know how many will move to Texas, but I bet several thousand won’t. And that doesn’t even address the ripple effects in the region’s economy, all sorts of support businesses that would lose the revenue spent by those employees — restaurants, dry cleaners, janitorial companies, you name it. Those people won’t be heading for Texas; they’ll be stuck here. And it’s going to hurt.

Toyota originally came to LA in the late 1950s, and staying here made sense for them for a long time, in spite of increasingly burdensome taxes and regulations. After all, most of their cars entered the US through the huge Port Of Los Angeles, so it made sense to have the North American HQ nearby.

But, with the passage of time, Toyota, like so many foreign car manufacturers, built more and more of their cars here in the US, mostly choosing to construct their facilities in business-friendly Southern states… such as Texas. The last auto manufacturing plant in California, coincidentally Toyota’s, closed in 2010. Eventually, economic logic (1) lead the company to decide that the cost of living and business in California wasn’t worth staying in California, not when their manufacturing operations had all shifted to Texas and nearby states.

As Dale Buss writes at Forbes. After talking about the structural shift in Toyota’s business, he looks at the once-Golden State:

Besides, California’s business climate is becoming an even bigger downer. California has become infamous with business executives and owners there not only for high tax rates and complex taxing schemes but also for overzealous regulations and regulators that have managed to stifle the entrepreneurial energy of thousands of companies.

Even Hollywood movie studios have been souring about producing flicks in California, increasingly reckoning that the sweet tax breaks and assistance packages now offered by so many other states offset the legacy advantages and ideal production climate in California.

About the only vast remaining pocket of dynamism in the California economy is Silicon Valley, where the mastery of the global digital economy by companies ranging from Google to Hewlett-Packard has become so complete that they have been able to succeed despite the home-state business landscape.

In the annual Chief Executive magazine “Best States / Worst States” ranking that surveys CEOs for their opinions, Texas has been holding on to the No. 1 spot for a while; California seems permanently relegated to No. 50.

As Automotive News put it, “Despite the deep, creative talent pool in greater Los Angeles, doing business in California has become more expensive for companies and their workers.” Bestplaces.net said that the cost of living for employees is 39 percent higher in Torrance than in Plano, and housing costs are 63 percent lower in Plano.

Thus, over the last 10 years, the Lone Star State has stolen so many jobs from the paragon of the Pacific Coast that Toyota’s reported move should come as no big surprise.

No, it’s no surprise, but it is maddening because it is a largely self-inflicted wound. Business flight has been going on for a few years, now, and, no, “Green jobs” just aren’t going to fill the gap. Heck, a businessman even set up a consulting firm to help companies “abandon ship.”

Losing Toyota should be a loud, blaring alarm for Governor Brown and the progressive oligarchs who dominate our legislature, for it’s their policies, piling on regulations and taxes year after year, decade after decade, that have made it nearly impossible to build a business here. (Just read this “Dear California” letter from a small businesswoman who’d had enough.) And for those companies that had been successful, the incentive to move finally grows too great to resist. But they won’t learn, not until it gets much worse. Like all good oligarchs, they’re isolated in their ivory tower of safe seats and unaccountability (2).

Keep watch at the I-10 crossing into Arizona: pretty soon, a lot of those taillights you see  heading East are going to be on the back of Toyotas.

And they ain’t coming back.

Footnote:
(1) Something progressives should acquaint themselves with, sometime.
(2) And, before anyone else can say it, yes, that’s our fault as voters.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Detecting life in the CA economy, state senate moves to kill it

April 26, 2014

BearFlag

Well, at least California’s legislative Democrats are consistent: if it works, regulate it, and if it makes money, tax it. In the latest example, Senator Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) has authored a bill to slap a nearly ten-percent tax on oil extraction:

The Senate Education Committee voted 5-2 — the minimum number of votes needed — to advance a bill that would levy a 9.5% tax on oil pumped from the ground in California. The aim is to raise $2 billion annually to be divided among state universities and colleges, state parks, and human service programs, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The controversial SB 1017, which was authored by Sen. Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), has been dubbed a “job killer” by the California Chamber of Commerce, as it would most likely decrease oil production and drive oil companies out of California, costing thousands of jobs. One such company, Occidental Petroleum, is leaving California for Houston, Texas — dubbed “the energy capital of the world” — after being in Los Angeles for nearly a century.

Apparently it never occurred to Senator Evans or the Education Committee that a regime of low taxes and moderate regulation would generate more revenue through the jobs created both directly and through supporting businesses. Maybe she should visit Texas and take notes. Oh, and the heartland of that oil production would be in areas with the worst unemployment, our Central Valley. Why does she hate the jobless? (Or, perhaps more accurately, why does she hate the prospect of them not needing state aid?)

Instead, she and her fellow Democrats must think that being in California is so wonderful that no one would ever go elsewhere, regardless of how many burdens and barriers Sacramento creates. If so, this former California businesswoman has a message for her.

California has had an amazing economy and has an incredible potential future, but even it can be killed with enough mismanagement.  Senator Evans and her colleagues really need to review the fable of the goose that laid the golden eggs: its owner, not satisfied with the eggs the goose was laying at a steady rate, killed it to get all the eggs he thought were inside. Instead, he wound up with no more eggs and a dead goose.

Golden eggs, golden state.

PS: With the Democrats’ two-thirds super-majority broken in the Senate for now, thanks to three corrupt Democrat senators getting caught, there’s no chance this bill will make it to the governor’s desk. For now. But expect them to have it ready, if and when they regain that majority.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#Obamacare: you may have coverage, but just try to find a doctor

April 20, 2014
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

Now that were a few months into our glorious new healthcare regime, we’re seeing more and more examples of something many predicted after the law was passed in 2010: you may have coverage, but good luck finding a doctor who takes it:

While open enrollment for coverage under the Affordable Care Act is closed, many of the newly insured are finding they can’t find doctors, landing them into a state described as “medical homelessness.”

Rotacare, a free clinic for the uninsured in Mountain View, is dealing with the problem firsthand.

Mirella Nguyen works at the clinic said staffers dutifully helped uninsured clients sign up for Obamacare so they would no longer need the free clinic.

But months later, the clinic’s former patients are coming back to the clinic begging for help. “They’re coming back to us now and saying I can’t find a doctor, “said Nguyen.

Thinn Ong was thrilled to qualify for a subsidy on the health care exchange. She is paying $200 a month in premiums. But the single mother of two is asking, what for?

“Yeah, I sign it. I got it. But where’s my doctor? Who’s my doctor? I don’t know,” said a frustrated Ong.

Nguyen said the newly insured patients checked the physicians’ lists they were provided and were told they weren’t accepting new patients or they did not participate in the plan.

And Nguyen says – while the free clinic isn’t technically supposed to be treating former patents they signed up for insurance, they can’t in good faith turn them away.

Dr. Kevin Grumbach of UCSF called the phenomenon “medical homelessness,” where patients are caught adrift in a system woefully short of primary care doctors.

(…)

Meanwhile, the sick and insured can’t get appointments.

“What good is coverage if you can’t use it?” Nguyen said.

(Emphasis added)

“Medical homelessness.” That’s a wonderful term for the chaos caused by Obamacare in provider networks. Not only do you discover that you can’t see the doctor you used to see, the new doctors you try to see may not take your health plan because it either doesn’t reimburse enough, or the regulations are too burdensome. Let’s review a few examples:

  • Thousands of elderly people are losing their insurance in New York. Will they find another doctor who takes Obamacare?
  • Need cancer treatment? Good luck if that top-shelf hospital that used to be on your old plan isn’t on your new one.
  • Thinn Ong in the story above isn’t the first Californian to have doctors turn her away. Maybe she could compare notes with Andrea Redamonti.
  • And one woman has (to date) gone through 96 physicians without finding one who would accept O-care Medicare coverage.

And there are a lot more in the archives.

Obamacare is an anti-constitutional monstrosity that’s not only not helping the people it was meant to help –the previously uninsured– but it’s actively hurting others. There’s only one thing to do with it: repeal it and then burn the legislation and scatter the ashes to the four winds.

And then replace it with something that will work.

Via Rick Moran, who has lots more.

PS: And don’t forget to vote out the idiots who passed it.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#HSR: California high-speed rail boondoggle lowers revenue projections

April 15, 2014
Boondoggle

Boondoggle

Can someone please just shoot this project and put it out of our misery?

In a new business plan submitted to state legislators last week, the California High-Speed Rail Authority offered lower revenue projections than it had two years before, predicting that revenue will be “5 percent lower than originally projected by 2025 and 10 percent lower by 2040,” according to a report by Sacramento’s KCRA.com.

So, let’s see. Costs are higher than projected (pace the HSRA), the train won’t be as fast as projected, even Democrats are breaking with Governor Jerry Brown over the project, and now revenues, which are supposed to pay back the billions we’re borrowing for this thing, won’t meet initial projections.

Explain to me just why Brown deserves reelection? I’m waiting… smiley well I'm waiting

RELATED: Past posts on Uncle Jerry’s high-speed choo-choo.


From Wyoming to New York: America’s Best and Worst States for Tax

April 5, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

I’m very disappointed in my beloved California; we’re only #4 on this list. Surely we can do better and drive more people and jobs away!

Originally posted on International Liberty:

Last August, I shared a fascinating map from the Tax Foundation.

It showed which states have chased away taxable income and which ones have attracted more taxpayers (along with their taxable income).

In other words, what are the “Golden Geese” doing with their money?

Well, the obvious and unsurprising answer is that they are escaping high-tax states and moving to states that aren’t quite so greedy.

Now we have another map from the Tax Foundation. They’ve just released the latest data on state and local tax burdens as a share of state income. Because of lags in data, we’re looking at 2011 numbers, but that’s not important. The main thing is to notice that the states with the highest tax burdens are very much correlated with the states that suffered the great loss of taxable income.

State-Local Tax

You can tell a few additional things just by looking at the…

View original 434 more words


#HSR: Jerry Brown’s high-speed choo-choo not so high-speed

March 28, 2014
Boondoggle

Boondoggle

Via The American Interest, the LA Times reports that California’s high-speed rail project may not be able to meet its promised travel times — shocker!

Regularly scheduled service on California’s bullet train system will not meet anticipated trip times of two hours and 40 minutes between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and are likely to take nearly a half-hour longer, a state Senate committee was told Thursday.

The faster trips were held out to voters in 2008 when they approved $9 billion in borrowing to help pay for the project. Since then, a series of political compromises and planning changes designed to keep the $68-billion line moving ahead have created slower track zones in urban areas.

But Louis Thompson, chairman of the High-Speed Rail Peer Review Group, a state-sanctioned panel of outside experts, testified that “real world engineering issues” will cause schedules for regular service to exceed the target of two hours and 40 minutes. The state might be able to demonstrate a train that could make the trip that fast, but not on scheduled service, he told lawmakers. If public demand for the service supports additional investments, travel times could be improved after the currently planned system is built, he said.

Critics of the project have long disputed whether travel times between the Bay Area and Los Angeles will meet the mark of two hours and 40 minutes. Projected trip times for the bullet train are a point of contention in a court fight that could block the state’s access to the voter-approved bond funds.

So we have huge cost overruns, property seized to make way for the train, and now the revelation that it won’t even be all that “high-speed.” Genius. Future generations of dictionaries will include the California high-speed rail authority’s logo in their definition of “boondoggle.”

The puzzling thing is, neither the bullet train fiasco, the ongoing corruption saga, nor the fact that the state is bleeding jobs and businesses is making a dent in Governor Brown and the Democratic Party’s control over the state. But then it becomes not so puzzling when you think about it. As the author at TAI writes:

While Democrats face some internal wrangling over the project, it’s the state’s total absence of an organized political opposition that helps keep ideas like the high speed train alive. As a BuzzFeed article points out, Brown is not suffering in the polls whatsoever from his beloved project—a boondoggle that a majority of Californians now oppose. Similarly, the Golden State’s status as nation-wide leader in job losses isn’t expected to affect the Democrats’ legislative supermajority. In the last three months, three Democratic state senators have been convicted (1) on federal corruption charges including voter fraud, perjury, bribes in exchange for legislation, and weapons and drug trafficking to pay off campaign debts. That’s a list that would make Boss Tweed blush, but it doesn’t seem to be hurting the Democrats’ dominance in Sacramento.

It’s the job of the opposition to oppose, yet the California Republican Party is limp. As I wrote to friends the other day after the Leland Yee scandal broke:

“Which isn’t to excuse the CRP for being flaccid. Last night, several of us on Twitter were ripping them for being milquetoast in the wake of the Leland Yee scandal (and Wright and Calderon). The Republican Party in California is already a rump; why not make some noise, go on offense, and demand to know why the Democratic Party tolerates corruption in its ranks? Call press conferences, get ads out, get all candidates on the same message. Run on a populist clean government and prosperity platform.  We really have nothing to lose and we might peel off enough voters to make a difference.”

Otherwise, we’re just leaving the state to the people running it into the ground.

Footnote:
(1) Actually, one convicted and two indicted. The error has been pointed out at TAI in the comments section.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#CApolitics: Third state senator (D) arrested on corruption charges

March 26, 2014
Not smiling now, I bet.

Not smiling now, I bet.

Earth-shaking news in California politics broke this morning with word of the arrest of State Senator Leland Yee (D, SD-8) on charges of public corruption, including soliciting donations beyond the allowed limits in return for legislative services and –ahem!– firearms trafficking. You can read the indictment (PDF) via the NBC BayArea site (1). From their article on the arrest:

California state Sen. Leland Yee was arrested on public corruption charges as part of several arrests made by the FBI Wednesday morning during a massive FBI sting, the FBI told NBC Bay Area.

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag of the Northern District of California said that Yee and current Chee Kung Tong leader Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow were among 26 defendants charged in a federal criminal complaint.

Yee and Chow were arraigned before Federal Magistrate Judge Nathaniel Cousins in San Francisco this afternoon.

The federal criminal complaint, filed on March 24, was unsealed in San Francisco Wednesday, charging the defendants with firearms trafficking, money laundering, murder-for-hire, drug distribution, trafficking in contraband cigarettes and honest services fraud, announced Haagm FBI special agent David Johnson and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge José M. Martinez.

Yee was charged with conspiracy to traffic in firearms without a license, and to illegally import firearms as well as a scheme to defraud citizens of honest services.

Chow’s charges include money laundering and conspiracy to trafficking contraband cigarettes.

From what I gather from skimming the indictment, Yee stands accused of soliciting bribes both to retire his debt from his failed mayoral run in San Francisco and to fund his current campaign for Secretary of State. He is also accused of offering to facilitate an arms deal through New Jersey between a dealer Yee knew and “UCE 4599,” an unidentified FBI undercover agent… in return for a “donation.”

The connection between Senator Yee and “Shrimp Boy” Chow seems to be Keith Jackson, a well-known Bay Area political consultant and associate of Yee. Chow, who has a long record and has been under investigation for years, introduced UCE 4599 to Jackson, who then apparently started supplying weapons for UCE 4599′s “associates” to guard their (imaginary) marijuana farms in Northern California. Jackson and others also apparently ran their own drug ring and even attempted to solicit murder-for-hire. Jackson was also Yee’s money-maker for the illegal donations.

There is no accusation that Senator Yee had anything to do with drugs or murder-for-hire, but, still, he sure keeps nice company.

Aside from the organized crime drama and political corruption, this has serious implications for the Democrats in California. Yee is the third state senator (2), all Democrats, to be indicted or convicted in the last several months. Senator Roderick Wright was convicted of felony voter fraud in January, while Senator Ron Calderon was indicted for corruption in February.

Since the 2012 election, Democrats have held a supermajority in the California legislature, controlling both chambers with two-thirds majorities. Under the state constitution, that gave them the power to do pretty much whatever they wanted: pass irresponsible budgets, fund wasteful programs to their heart’s content, you name it. The Republicans were bystanders, and it didn’t look like they’d have any power any time soon.

Then the majority started crumbling in the state senate. First came Andy Vidak’s (R-SD26) surprise victory in a 2013 special election, then the conviction of Wright and the indictment of Calderon. That last broke the supermajority in the senate, and now Yee’s troubles (3) deepens the hole they’re in. Now, at least, the Democrats have to actually deal with the Republican senate caucus, if they want to get anything done. This means Proposition 13, the measure that protects homeowners from exorbitant property taxes and mandates a 2/3rds majority to raise taxes, making it a prime Democrat target, is safe for a while. The Democrats are likely to regain those seats, given the districts, but a smart Republican or independent candidate might make some populist hay running on a clean government platform. We’ll see.

From a larger view, this is what happens in a state when a party overwhelmingly dominates for too long: without credible opposition, legislators and other government officials come to feel entitled, become complacent, and think of themselves as rulers, not employees subject to the audit of the people. Corruption sets in. California has long been dominated by the Democrats (in the legislature, for decades), but a conservative friend in a long-time Red state has voiced similar complaints. It shows the problems that can set in when a strong two-party system withers to one.

One hopes that revelations such as Senator Yee’s purported activities will lead to soul-searching among the Democrats (4) and the rise of good conservative candidates in more areas to help redress the balance.

For the sake of California’s political health, we need both.

RELATED: More from the San Jose Mercury News.

PS: Did you know Yee once sponsored a measure to require state buildings to be designed according to Chinese Feng Shui principles? There’s a reason we’re called “Crazyfornia.”

Footnotes:
(1) And kudos to them for linking to a primary source. Too few online MSM outlets do that.
(2) But not the last, I bet.
(3) Because Senate President Steinberg (D) is desperate to keep those seats in Democrat hands, rather than risk a special election, Wright and Calderon have been allowed to go on “paid leave,” rather than being expelled. Yes, they still draw a salary, but at least they can’t vote. I’m sure Yee will be shown the same “courtesy.”
(4) Oh, stop laughing. It could happen. Maybe.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Demon-fearing Los Angeles city council blames fracking for earthquake

March 20, 2014
Drill, baby, drill!

Drill, baby, drill!

Remember, kiddies, liberals are the party of science!

Los Angeles City Council members have discovered how to cause earthquakes. Three councilmen think fracking may be the cause of Monday’s earthquake in the Santa Monica Mountains, and they want the city, state, and feds to do an in-depth review.

Councilmen Paul Koretz, Mike Bonin, and Bernard Parks Tuesday introduced a motion calling for the city, the U.S. Geological Survey, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, and the California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources to report on whether hydraulic fracturing caused the moderate 4.4-magnitude earthquake, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“It is crucial to the health and safety of the City’s residents to understand the seismic impacts of oil and gas extraction activities in the City,” the motion says. “All high-pressure fracking and injection creates ‘seismic events.’ . . .  Active oil extraction activities are reportedly taking place on the Veteran’s Administration grounds in West Los Angeles, nearby the epicenter of the March 17, 2014, 4.4 earthquake.”

Parks, who seconded the motion, tells National Review Online that while fracking is “reportedly” happening near the epicenter, those who signed the motion weren’t completely sure. However, he adds that “earthquakes are happening in areas that are not historically earthquake prone, but they are in places where fracking is going on.”

I’m sorry to say Mike Bonin is my city councilman.

Let’s be honest, here. If Koretz, Parks, and Bonin genuinely think fracking caused an earthquake, they know nothing about earthquakes and are just fearing demons in the night. Earthquakes happen when adjoining tectonic plates, which are constantly in motion against each other, suddenly break and move with a jolt. Sometimes a little bit, as in Monday’s quake, sometimes a lot, as in the 2011 Tohoku quake in Japan. In seismically active areas, such as the western coast of North America, small quakes occur every day and have since long before anyone thought of the words “hydraulic fracturing.”

Here’s the technical information for Monday’s shaker. Note the depth: six miles. This is what a USGS geologist had to say when asked about fracking causing that quake:

However, opponents of the moratorium argue that fracking has not been proven to cause any health risks and that claims that it caused this earthquake are not realistic.

“My first impression is that sounds implausible,” seismologist Lucy Jones said. “The earthquake was so deep. Induced earthquakes are almost always shallower than this.”

In other words, yes you might get hit by a bolt from the blue, but that’s no reason to ban walking outdoors.

This call for a study (borrowing from the neverending studies tactic of NY Governor Cuomo) is just another delaying tactic in furtherance of their earlier motion to ban fracking within city limits.  Hydraulic fracturing opponents are using what’s called the “preventative principle” (1) to stop a promising technology that could do wonders for the economy, because the idea of oil and gas exploration goes against their hardcore environmentalist agenda. And then they find lackwit politicians who know nothing about the subject matter, but who are ever so happy to take activists’ donations and campaign help, and get them to pass laws serving that agenda — to the public’s detriment. Their hope is that through delay after delay and more and more burdensome regulations, they can kill what they oppose altogether.

No matter how discredited their propaganda, no matter how safe fracking is shown to be, no matter that even the Energy Secretary of the most left-leaning administration in US history declares it safe, no matter how much this city, this state, and this nation need the economic boost intelligent exploitation of our vast oil and gas resources would provide, fracking opponents continue to throw anything against the wall in the hopes of finding something that will convince people to support a ban.

And sometimes they find the fools they need.

RELATED: Ten myths about natural gas drilling. The UK government thinks fracking is safe. Nancy Pelosi’s daughter even thinks the evil magic of fracking can cause earthquakes far out at sea.

Footnote:
(1) Watch for words like “may,” “might,” “possible,” “could” and other weak words that don’t require any evidence to back them up, just the doubt and fear they create in the (they hope) credulous listener.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Tweet of the Day, #LAquake edition

March 17, 2014
"Even the monkey is embarrassed"

“Even the monkey is embarrassed”

So, as you probably all heard, we had a light earthquake near Public Secrets Global HQ this morning (1). Not a bad one, though I was near the epicenter and upstairs, so it was still a good ride. But, if you’ve lived in California for your whole life, as I have, it’s also nothing you haven’t been through, before. A momentary “uh-oh” as you wonder if this is the lead in to The Big One, and then back to whatever you were doing as it fades away. And I figured my fellow Angelenos would feel the same way. After all, did we not laugh and point when D.C. had their quake?

Then I saw this (via Twitchy):

Really, people? “Hello? Operator? I’d like to report an earthquake. Would you please send someone out to arrest it?”

Tourists. Yeah, that’s it. It must be tourists.

PS: While we laugh at each other and ourselves, let’s remember that earthquakes are serious business, and it’s our own individual responsibility to be prepared for when a bad one hits; help from the government may take days to arrive, after all. Earthquake Country is a good site with before, during, and after advice.

Footnote:
(1) I deny any and all rumors that I was conducting below-ground atomic testing. Pay no attention to that small radioactive cloud…

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Another 2nd Amendment win in California

March 6, 2014

"Crime stopper"

“Self-defense”

Okay, someone has put something in the water at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals; this is the second ruling in a row where they’ve defended the right to bear arms in self defense against hyper-restrictive California laws. This time, they smacked down the Yolo County Sheriff:

Just weeks after striking down the San Diego County “good cause” requirement as burdensome to the exercise of the Second Amendment, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Yolo County, CA’s requirement that a concealed carry applicant “prove they face a threat of violence or robbery” before being allowed to carry a gun.

The Court in its new-found crush on the Bill of Rights found that the application of the “good cause” rule in Yolo “impermissibly” infringed the plaintiffs 2nd Amendment rights. While the ruling only applies to the county in question, it seems to me this is another wedge in the door that opens the way for a state-wide ruling.

Civil liberties — what a concept!

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Ninth Circuit overturns California gun law

February 13, 2014

law constitution bill of rights

When even the liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals says progressive gun-grabbers have gone too far, it’s something to take note of:

The court concludes that California’s broad limits on both open and concealed carry of loaded guns — with no “shall-issue” licensing regime that assures law-abiding adults of a right to get licenses, but only a “good cause” regime under which no license need be given — “impermissibly infringe[] on the Second Amendment right to bear arms in lawful self-defense.” The Ninth Circuit thus joins the Seventh Circuit, and disagrees with the Second, Third, and Fourth Circuits. (State courts are also split on the subject.)

“Shall issue” vs. “may issue” has been a big bone of contention among gun rights advocates here in California, as high-handed county sheriffs and city police chiefs have used the distinction to deny otherwise law-abiding citizens their right to carry a weapon.

Given the differences between the various circuit courts, expect this one to go to the federal Supreme Court.

PS: The Washington Post genuinely upgraded the paper by letting Ezra Klein go and adding Prof. Eugene Volokh, founder of The Volokh Conspiracy.

via PJM.

RELATED: More analysis. What next?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#Obamacare: Los Angeles residents turned away at the doctor’s office

February 6, 2014
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

This is a story happening all across the country, and it is all due to the chaos caused by Democrats and their precious healthcare “reform:”

After overcoming website glitches (1) and long waits to get Obamacare, some patients are now running into frustrating new roadblocks at the doctor’s office.

A month into the most sweeping changes to healthcare in half a century, people are having trouble finding doctors at all, getting faulty information on which ones are covered and receiving little help from insurers swamped by new business.

Experts have warned for months that the logjam was inevitable. But the extent of the problems is taking by surprise many patients — and even doctors — as frustrations mount.

Aliso Viejo resident Danielle Nelson said Anthem Blue Cross promised half a dozen times that her oncologists would be covered under her new policy. She was diagnosed last year with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and discovered a suspicious lump near her jaw in early January.

But when she went to her oncologist’s office, she promptly encountered a bright orange sign saying that Covered California plans are not accepted.

“I’m a complete fan of the Affordable Care Act, but now I can’t sleep at night,” Nelson said. “I can’t imagine this is how President Obama wanted it to happen.”

That last reminds me of what peasants in Russia used to say about the Tsar: “It can’t be the Tsar’s will our lives are so bad; it must be his evil advisers! If only the Good Father knew, he’d fix everything!” Hopefully the scales of naivete will fall from Ms. Nelson’s eyes, soon.

It’s true there are serious problems with inaccurate information about which providers are in a given network, leading people to think the doctor they want will accept them, only to find out otherwise; that one I’ll lay at the insurers’ doorstep. (Unless someone knows better?)

But the shrinkage of provider networks, something the article and the state insurance people it quotes try to blame on insurance companies trying to save money is, well, less than half the story.

If Obamacare didn’t impose so many needless requirements and instead let insurers design plans to meet individuals’ specific needs, and if it didn’t mandate coverage for anyone regardless of preexisting conditions, expenses wouldn’t have grown to the point where limiting networks to contain costs became necessary.

In the end, the laws of economics win, no matter what Nancy Pelosi demands. When you mandate increased costs, the company has to cut expenses or raise prices, or, as we’re finding under Obamacare, do both.

Of course, when you have a problem caused by government interference, the solution is more government interference:

Looking to head off potential problems, government regulators and patient advocates are pushing for tougher rules to ensure health plans provide timely access to care.

Last week, the California Assembly approved legislation enabling people who lost coverage because of the overhaul to keep seeing their doctors if they’re pregnant or undergoing treatment for cancer or other conditions.

You know, I’m glad pregnant women can continue to see the doctor they like. Everyone should be able to — but they shouldn’t have to go crying for a special fix to take care of a problem caused by the Blind Idiot God “Government” in the first place!

There’s a day of reckoning coming for the Democrats. Bet on it.

via ST in email

RELATED: And speaking of increased costs and the laws of economics — “AOL CEO says ObamaCare adding $7 million to costs.” Gee, what do we think will happen to all those employer-based health plans?

Footnotes:
(1) “Glitches.” The LA Times must’ve gotten the DNC memo on proper spin. “Glitches” sounds so minor and temporary compared to the truth of a huge, honking, crashing failure.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Ding-dong, Waxman’s gone!

January 30, 2014
Henry Waxman, D-Statist

Henry Waxman, D-Statist

Oh, this is a moment I’ve long looked forward to. Henry Waxman (D-CA), one of the most obnoxious progressives in the House and co-author of the economy-killing, state-growing Waxman-Markey climate bill, has decided to retire:

Rep. Henry A. Waxman, whose legislative record has made him one of the country’s most influential liberal lawmakers for four decades, announced Thursday that he will retire from his Westside seat, the latest in a wave of departures that is remaking the state’s long-stable congressional delegation.

Waxman-Markey failed, thank God, but the LAT article reminds us of another of Henry’s gifts to America:

Among his legislative victories was the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which he helped write and push through the House. Passage of the law fulfilled “one of my lifelong dreams” by guaranteeing access to healthcare coverage for Americans, he said.

Translated: “I’ve done all the damage I can do, so, since there is no chance Democrats will retake the House and we’ll likely lose the Senate, I might as well retire to enjoy my pension and become a lobbyist.”

Henry Waxman was Leviathan personified, a statist who tried his hardest to insert the federal government into every aspect of our lives. He is also a vile partisan who, I’m sure, regrets he couldn’t institute one-party rule.

His district here in Los Angeles is solidly Democratic, so there is no hope of a Republican pick up, but almost anyone the Democrats run will at least be no worse.

Goodbye and good riddance, Henry Waxman.

UPDATE: Charles Cooke reminds us that Waxman co-authored the Clean Air Act, which set the stage for the EPA’s aggressive rule-making, and signed off as often as he could on surrendering legislative authority to executive agencies. Bah.

UPDATE 2: Hmm. Per Allahpundit, maybe Henry’s seat isn’t so safe after all.


California: Jerry Brown’s high-speed payoff? #HSR

January 30, 2014
Boondoggle

Uncle Jerry’s High-Speed Boondoggle

Oh, no. This doesn’t look bad at all. First the Tutor-Perini (1) construction company, whom we’ve met before, wins a huge contract to build California’s high-speed rail, even though their record is… not the best. Then, after two defeats in state courts that put the whole project in jeopardy, Brown demands the state supreme court take the cases and overturn them — NOW!!! (2)

And what came between the lower courts’ decisions and Brown’s running to the supreme court? Why, a maximum contribution to Brown’s reelection campaign.

From Tutor-Perini:

The timing of the campaign contribution doesn’t sit well with the state Legislature’s leading critic of the $68 billion high-speed rail project.

“Let’s connect the dots,” said Senator Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, who has introduced a package of legislation “aimed at driving a stake through the heart” of the state’s bullet train. “The HSR Authority’s apparent bid-rigging lands this company a $1 billion contract, then this company gives Brown a max campaign contribution, and then Brown sues to bail the company out?”

“In farm country, this is called ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours,’” Vidak said.

If Michelle Malkin ever writes a second edition of “Culture of Corruption,” I have a suggested new chapter for her, titled “California’s High-Speed Rip-Off.”

PS: Yeah, I tweeted this article a few minutes ago, but it has me so ticked off, I had to write about it. Garbage like this is one of the poisoned fruits of decades of one-party rule.

Footnote:
(1) The principal owner of which is Senator Diane Feinstein’s husband, let us not forget. Apparently not true any longer, Blume having divested himself of Tutor-Perini stock around October, 2005. (h/t Brock Winstead)
(2) Where he was rebuffed, I’m happy to say. Even the governor doesn’t get to jump the line.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#Obamacare: California family finds “affordable care” to be neither

January 29, 2014
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

It’s becoming an all too common story: people who thought Obamacare would solve their healthcare-coverage problems find instead that, thanks to bigger premiums, higher deductibles, and shrinking provider networks, they’re arguably worse off than before.

In this case, the victims (1) are the family of German Campos and Andrea Redamonti, themselves and their children, who live in Chico, CA. Redamonti and one of her children have been denied insurance in the past, so, to them, Obamacare seemed like the answer to their prayers.

But, now that the PPACA has kicked in, Redamonti is learning her dream was just a delusion:

“I was so excited,” Redamonti said about Obamacare. “My son and I had both been denied coverage previously, and with the new Obamacare, they couldn’t refuse us.”

But since signing up for Covered California in October, she’s been going in circles with the health exchange.

Simply securing the coverage has been a major headache. Redamonti has spent hours navigating the frequently failing website and on the phone with her provider, only to be asked for income verification for her sons — ages 10 and 8, and repeated requests for payment, even though her check was sent in weeks earlier.

In addition, their new insurance — the minimum available — costs $800 per month instead of the $650 they were paying before and carries a $15,000 deductible.

“When it finally happened and we figured out what we’d be paying and what our benefits would be, our hearts sank,” Redamonti said.

Technically, she’s been covered since Jan. 1, but still waiting on her medical ID card, it’s been difficult to make doctor’s appointments or fill prescriptions.

“I feel like I have paid for coverage and I don’t have it,” Redamonti said.

This is a story being repeated over and over across California, which, God help us, has one of the better-functioning Obamacare sites, and the nation in general: people think they’ll at last have coverage, only to discover they’ve been sold a worthless bill of goods.

By the Democratic Party, let me remind you.

Normally, this is where I’d express minimal or no sympathy with people like Ms. Redamonti and her family, but I’m actually quite sympathetic to her predicament. Worried for her child who has a congenital heart condition, herself at high risk for breast cancer, both denied coverage… Well, one can understand why she and her husband would see Obamacare as the relief they needed and why they’d be eager to buy into the fairy tale that was sold to them.

By the Democratic Party, I’ll point out, again.

What was it Reagan once said? Oh, yeah:

The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’

I hope, genuinely, that Ms. Redamonti and Mr. Campos learn from this a lesson about government control of the economy –it doesn’t work and it makes things worse– and vote accordingly in the next election.

Where I find my sympathy lacking, though, is for people who just don’t get it, such as one of the doctors interviewed for the article. Co-owner of the pediatrics clinic where Redamonti’s children were treated, Dr. Eliza Brown had to turn them away because the insurance company refused to reveal their reimbursement rates, which were likely to be lower than under the old system. They’re a business after all and they have to recover costs. But then she had this to say:

Brown loves the idea of providing basic affordable coverage for everyone, but said the reality proves to be “nebulous and fuzzy,” and be more of a hindrance to health care than a help.

“If I can’t prescribe medicine because it will be denied or can’t give a vaccine to prevent illness because it will be denied, how do you provide care?” Brown said. “Medical decision-making is being put into insurance companies’ hands. They say what they will and will not provide and what can be prescribed.”

Effective health care reform is not possible without health insurance reform, Sullivan said.

With today’s higher premiums and lower reimbursement rates, the extra profit must go “straight into the pockets of the insurance companies and their shareholders,” she said. Care providers and patients suffer as a result.

I have little but contempt for the big insurers, who saw Obamacare as a way to get guaranteed rents thanks to the individual mandate, but Dr. Brown is missing the root of the problem here: it’s not the insurance companies determining allowed care and reimbursement rates, but the government via the Independent Payments Advisory Board (IPAB), Sarah Palin’s “death panel.” (2) The insurance companies are now little more than divisions of HHS. She needs to learn that government cannot provide “affordable coverage for everyone” without somehow rationing care: by curtailing reimbursements or limiting access, or, in the case of Ms. Redamonti and her children, both.

Of course, situations such as these are opportunities for advocates of free markets and limited government; it’s up to us to explain gently to people suffering the same travails why statist health care cannot work and that there is a better way., which starts by not voting for the Democratic Party.

Because we’re from the People, and we’re here to help.

RELATED: From Moe Lane, more on shrinking Medicare provider networks. The Democrats are so going to enjoy November.

Footnote:
(1) And I use that word deliberately; the whole nation is a victim of this bill.
(2) Oh, that dumb chill-billy. Right again.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


California’s drought situation in pictures – what a difference one year makes

January 18, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

We’re in the worst drought since 1898, at least, but it has to do with the Pacific Ocean, not the demon Global Warming. Read the whole thing. There are some impressive pictures there, too. And once again we’ve shot ourselves in the foot, failing to build enough water storage, thanks to environmental groups adamantly opposed to even the most sensible development. What was that fable about the ant and the grasshopper again?

Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:

Yesterday, my local reservoir, Lake Oroville, made the front page of Drudge. The photo below shows the Highway 162 suspension bridge and the Bidwell Marina, which is almost in the center of the lake now. The last time I was there at this very spot in September, boat launch ramps were still operable. From what I hear now, they are past the asphalt and down to mud for anyone that dares to try.

oroville-drudge

Below are two photos from the NASA MODIS imaging system that show California from the Los Angeles area north to the Oregon border. One if from January 13th, 2013, and the other is from January 14th, 2014.

The lack of snowpack in the northern Sierra Nevada is quite significant and the visual difference between years is stunning. 

View original 1,571 more words


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