MOORLACH UPDATE — Facing Fiscal Realities — October 30, 2018

Since I submitted this piece, Cal State Fullerton economists have also predicted an economic cooling down on the horizon. But, Sacramento cannot afford a leveling off or a downward economic trend with the growing fiscal obligations it will be facing.

I provide my take on what lies ahead for California’s next Governor in the CalMatters submission below.

And, it’s not only the next Governor who will be facing a potential financial squeeze. It will be all of those elected to Orange County’s local governing bodies as well (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Trick or Treat? — October 26, 2018).

My turn: Next governor will face hard fiscal realities

151109_Moorlach_HeadshotL-e1540839597664-150x150.jpg
By John M. W. Moorlach, Special to CALmatters

As next Tuesday’s election approaches, here’s something disconcerting that all candidates should keep in mind: the California economy.

It has been a juggernaut of growth since 2013, but now is slowing while the national economy is expanding. Let’s review some of the ominous signs publicly available data portend.

California’s annual growth rate has dropped to 2 percent, from more than 3 percent from 2013 to mid-2016, according to a new forecast by California Lutheran University’s Center for Economic Research and Forecasting. The Center for Economic Research and Forecasting projects 2.9 percent national growth for the next two years.

One key indicator is accelerating domestic out-migration—163,000 more California citizens are expected to leave for other states in 2018 than those expected to come here for the sun and fun, and the accompanying high taxes and regulations. In 2014, the net out-migration number was only 117,000. The trend is getting worse.

The Center for Economic Research and Forecasting report indicates culprits include increased onerous taxes and regulations of all sorts. California’s gasoline taxes lag only Hawaii.

The state’s sales tax is ninth highest, at 8.55 percent, just a shade less than the highest rate, 9.46 percent, in Tennessee. California’s top income tax rate is the nation’s highest, 13.3 percent.

If voters approve Propositions 1, 3 and 4 on Nov. 6, expect more strain on the state’s general fund budget. Those are bonds for, respectively, housing, water, and hospitals. And the debt payments will need to be made over decades.

If the majority votes for Proposition 10, cities could impose much more stringent rent control. Cal Lutheran notes San Francisco’s 1994 expansion of rent control cut the supply of rental properties by 15 percent. It’s Economics 101: cut supply and the price must rise, which would not be helpful in San Francisco where the average rent is $3,520 per month.

Another gigantic fiscal threat driving down the highway is public-employees’ defined-benefit pension liabilities.

I have issued fiscal rankings of the 50 U.S. states and every California city, county, school district, and university system. My latest, “Financial Soundness Rankings for California’s Public School Districts, Colleges & Universities,” scored two-thirds of these public school districts and all three college and higher education systems to be in fiscal distress, largely due to the burgeoning pension crisis.

Full employment is a solution. But while Silicon Valley and most coastal areas of the state are booming, other areas of California are not doing as well. Six of the 10 worst U.S. job markets are in California, with unemployment numbers that range from 6.6 percent in Fresno to 20 percent in El Centro.

Not everybody in California is a Silicon Valley internet millionaire. But California state finances depend too much on the most volatile tax sources, those derived from income and capital gains. Even a blip downward in the stock market could evaporate recent state surpluses.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s final report for the “California State Budget 2018-19,” which began on July 1, estimated a shocking 9.2 percent increase in spending from the previous fiscal year, nearly double the 5 percent average increases of his previous seven budgets.

Although the rainy day fund will be filled at $13.8 billion, that would vanish fast in one economic down cycle. Budgets are crucial because, lacking sound finances, all the nice things candidates propose can’t happen: more health care, better schools, modern roads, even tax cuts.

Whether he likes it or not, the next governor will spend most of his time dealing with the financial crises forming off the coast like a tsunami. Jerry Brown will scoot out in the nick of time. His successor will face the vice grip of a slowing economy and rising costs for pension-plan contributions and more bond payments.

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MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — 2018 June Primary — June 4, 2018

Fortunately, I’m one of sixteen California State Legislators who are not on the ballot this June 5th. However, thanks to serving on the Budget Conference Committee, I’ll remain in Sacramento on Tuesday and not in my District, like my 100 good colleagues (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Selected to Serve — May 28, 2018 and http://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-ca-essential-politics-may-2018-california-budget-legislature-jerry-brown-differences-1527653231-htmlstory.html).

How else do I feel? Check out this snippet:

image6

 

WHATMATTERS
By Dan Morain

Sen. John Moorlach, a Costa Mesa Republican, called Newman a “good man. … The most difficult part of this job is I have to work with everybody, but then fund their opponents, and I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to that dynamic.”

https://calmatters.org/articles/newsletters/how-the-next-governor-would-confront-taxes/

Senator De Leon discussed this quote with me and said it reminded him of “Sam the Sheepdog and Ralph the Wolf.” We fight during the day, clock out, and then enjoy a civil relationship. For fun, check it out at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kerUbfOQTW0.

Like a few of you, I prefer to vote in person. And, not being an absentee ballot voter, I needed to get to the Registrar of Voters to do my civic duty. Since my calendar was unclear, as the Budget Conference Committee can run into the weekends, I was fortunate enough to learn that there is a Pop-Up Voting Service Center (see https://www.ocvote.com/voting/current-election-info/2018-statewide-direct-primary-election-info/vote-centers/). I voted in the shadow of the Performing Arts Center. Having this flexibility is great for the one-third of us that do not vote by mail.

For those die-hard traditionalists who plan on going to your polling place tomorrow, allow me to give you some recent links to assist you in your decision process:

MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — CA AG Reception Invitation — May 24, 2018 may 24, 2018 john moorlach

MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — June Primary Antics — April 28, 2018

MOORLACH UPDATE — Propositions 68 and 69 — May 18, 2018

(MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Vote No on Proposition 68 — May 5, 2018 may 5, 2018 john moorlach

MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Proposition 68 — March 23, 2018)

This should be my final Campaign UPDATE for the 2018 June Primary, so please allow me to provide a few ballot related articles that I’ve held back.

Today’s Roll Call, the publication for Congress watchers, provides its look at the Orange County races in the piece below. It covers concern number one in my May 24th UPDATE. Also see:

https://www.buzzfeed.com/alexislevinson/dana-rohrabacher-russia-putin-campaign?utm_term=.grwAl58VZ#.ucpYGKBXA

https://voiceofoc.org/2018/05/north-countys-39th-congressional-race-still-a-toss-up/

For fun reading on my second concern, Propositions 68 and 69, see:

http://www.hometownstation.com/santa-clarita-news/politics/proposition-69-looks-to-increase-oversight-on-gas-tax-revenues-235866

http://www.capradio.org/articles/2018/05/30/measure-by-measure-a-roundup-of-the-five-propositions-on-californias-june-ballot/

https://kfbk.iheart.com/content/2018-05-23-guide-to-the-5-propositions-on-californias-primary-ballot/

http://ijpr.org/post/measure-measure-roundup-five-propositions-california-s-june-ballot#stream/0

http://www.losfelizledger.com/2018/05/costly-proposition-has-local-benefit/

http://www.asianjournal.com/five-ballot-propositions-californians-will-be-voting-for-on-june-5/

https://www.kqed.org/science/1924321/proposition-68-money-for-parks-beaches-and-water-projects

https://patch.com/california/northridge/what-proposition-proposition-69-voter-guide-2018-californ

https://patch.com/california/losalamitos/what-proposition-68-voter-guide-2018-california-measures

http://www.kcra.com/article/prop-68-promises-billions-for-california-parks-clean-water/20711288

http://idyllwildtowncrier.com/2018/05/08/prop-68-to-fund-parks-and-natural-resource-protection/

http://peninsulapress.com/2018/06/04/prop-68-to-decide-funding-for-water-parks-and-climate-change-in-california/

For the fun in the Orange County Fourth District Supervisorial race, see:

https://voiceofoc.org/2018/05/north-ocs-open-seat-for-supervisor-draws-four-front-runners/

Now, for those who are the one out of three that do not vote by mail, please go to your polling place tomorrow and vote.

The Battle for the House Hits the Shores of Southern California

Bridget Bowman

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/the-battle-for-the-house-hits-the-shores-of-southern-california/ar-AAycNaC

LAGUNA WOODS, Calif. — The battle for control of the House has landed in California, and it’s partly because of voters like Deborah and Wyatt Carr.

Deborah, 69, was not registered with a party, and Wyatt, 73, was a longtime Republican. Both voted for Hillary Clinton and for their GOP congresswoman, Mimi Walters, in 2016.

But on a recent Saturday here, the Carrs were sporting bright orange T-shirts to show support for one of Walters’ challengers: Democrat Katie Porter.

The Republican Party has moved away from them on issues such as immigration and gun control, they said, and Walters has not done enough to stand up to President Donald Trump or for their 45th District.

The question for both parties is how many more voters like Deborah and Wyatt exist in the traditionally Republican stronghold of Orange County. Democrats see new opportunities to flip Southern California House seats, but Republicans say it won’t be that easy.

New battleground

California operatives say there has been more focus on House races in Orange County this cycle than at any other time they can remember. For the first time, both parties’ House campaign committees have offices in the county. And they’re in the same city.

Across the highway from John Wayne Airport in Irvine, the National Republican Congressional Committee leased 10,000 square feet of office space. Inside, campaign signs for local GOP members of Congress hang on the walls, and red tablecloths cover the phone bank stations (along with some pocket Constitutions).

On an average weekday, between 15 and 20 volunteers hit the phones, focusing on boosting GOP turnout ahead of the June 5 primary. The space is also shared with Walters’ campaign and will host events and serve as a central location for GOP campaigns and NRCC staffers.

“This is a long-term commitment,” NRCC spokesman Jesse Hunt said. “Part of it … is taking roots in Orange County and making sure that this bastion of Republicanism [in Southern California], if you will, knows that we’re committed, knows that Republican campaigns, organizations are committed to maintaining our advantage in this area.”

Those trying to erode that advantage are also based in Irvine, in a WeWork shared office space, just a 15-minute drive up Interstate 405 from the NRCC office.

Staffers with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have been working for a year on the fourth floor. They have eight full-time staffers, including a political director, and have invested in field organizers in seven GOP-held districts in California that Clinton carried.

“In my political life, I’ve never seen four Orange County congressional districts in play, at least targeted by the Democrats like this,” said Matt Cunningham, a GOP strategist in California. He’s working with Republican Scott Baugh, who is challenging Republican incumbent Dana Rohrabacher in the 48th District.

While the Democratic energy has led to a glut of congressional hopefuls, it has endangered their chances of making the general election ballot. Under California’s open primary system, the two highest vote-getters on Tuesday, regardless of party, will advance to November. Democrats are concerned having a slew of candidates could split the vote, leaving two Republicans to fight it out in the fall.

The DCCC, the state Democratic Party and members of Congress were active in encouraging some candidates to drop out, and are now focused on turning out voters for the primary. They see California as key to taking back the House, given the sheer number of GOP-held districts that backed Clinton.

Democrats on the ground say the area was shifting years before the 2016 election.

“One thing to remember about this district is it’s a very diverse district, a very young district,” said Sam Jammal, a Democrat running for the open 39th District, where GOP incumbent Ed Royce is not seeking re-election. “It didn’t suddenly become very diverse and young as soon as Donald Trump got elected.”

Raising the ‘orange curtain’

Four of the seven GOP-held districts that backed Clinton in California touch Orange County, long considered a Republican stronghold. Clinton sent shockwaves though the area when she carried the county in 2016 — the first Democratic presidential nominee to do so since 1936.

“There was a time when Orange County was behind the orange curtain,” said Andrew Acosta, a California Democratic consultant. “You couldn’t get a Democrat elected down there. … So now there’s a lot more optimism for Democrats to be successful.”

Democrats are heavily targeting two open seats held by retiring Republicans — the 39th and 49th districts. They’re also targeting Walters in the 45th District and Rohrabacher in the 48th.

Ask people in Orange County what has changed, and they’ll point to the demographic shifts and increasing Hispanic and Asian populations.

On a recent Saturday in the 39th District, Democrats gathered in Rowland Heights to encourage voters to turn out in the primary. At a school a few blocks away from the event, a banner about soccer teams displayed three different languages.

The 39th is a majority-minority district that Clinton carried by 9 points, and Royce won by 14 points in 2016. Recognizing that his district was changing, Royce has reached out to its different communities, particularly Asian-Americans, who make up 32 percent of the population.

But with the 13-term congressman retiring, Democrats see the 39th as a top pickup opportunity, as long as a Democrat makes it out of Tuesday’s crowded primary. The other Orange County districts are also increasingly diverse.

Democrats see another reason for optimism about flipping these seats. They say GOP policies in the nation’s capital, such as the tax overhaul and expanding offshore drilling, are negatively affecting the area.

“In 2016, we saw that Democrats can appeal to a diverse electorate,” said DCCC spokesman Drew Godinich, who is based in Irvine. “What we also have working in our favor this cycle is how the Republican agenda in Washington has almost specifically targeted Southern California for punishment.”

Not so fast

Republicans disagree, saying voters will reap the benefits of the new tax law. They also argue Democratic candidates are moving too far to the left in the crowded primaries.

“I feel pretty good about most of our incumbents,” California GOP chairman Jim Brulte said. “The fact of the matter is Democrats … in order to win their primary, are posturing to the left of Elizabeth Warren. And this is not where most California, Southern California, Central California, down-the-line voters are.”

Republicans are also turning out their voters, GOP lawmakers and operatives say.

In all but one of the four Orange County seats targeted by Democrats, Republicans outnumber Democrats in returned ballots, according to numbers from Political Data Inc. The exception was the open 49th District, where Democratic turnout had equaled the GOP side as of Friday evening.

And Republicans believe their voters will turn out to support an initiative undoing an increase in the state’s gas tax that is expected to be on the ballot in November.

Some pushed back on the notion that the districts’ increasing diversity meant they would become more Democratic.

“It’s always talked about as the sleeping giant,” Cunningham said of Hispanic voters. “Part of the issue is [Democrats] have a hard time converting young voters or minority voters into actual voters.”

That is reflected so far in absentee returns, where white voters dominate ballots returned in all four of the targeted seats. Voters between the ages of 65 and 74 also have the highest rate of ballots returned in all four districts.

Young Kim, a top GOP candidate in the 39th District, agreed the area was becoming more diverse, but said she believed the districts were actually shifting to the middle, with more voters registering as “no party preference” voters. (Republicans have seen a statewide decline in voter registration. Last week, no party preference voters surpassed Republicans in registration.)

Republicans still have to work to appeal to the changing communities, some said.

“For too long Democrats have done a better job of getting out into the community and shaking hands and connecting with the community,” Kim said. “But I think that is changing.”

Royce serves as an example to Republicans looking to adjust to shifting demographics, said Kim, who has the incumbent’s support in the race and was his longtime district staffer.

Kim is known in the community — she served a term in the state Assembly. That sort of familiarity is an advantage other Republican candidates in the area share, said GOP state Sen. John Moorlach, who has been active in Orange County politics for more than two decades. Democratic hopefuls are generally first-time candidates.

“You got all these Democratic unknowns running against Republican knowns,” Moorlach said. “And I don’t know how you beat somebody with a nobody.”

Some Democrats acknowledge that winning these districts will be a challenge even though Clinton carried them.

“I think these seats can flip and they should flip, but the candidates matter so, so, so much more,” Jammal said.

“These are educated districts that haven’t elected Democrats in the past, so we actually have to make a case,” he added. “It’s not going to be a situation where, ‘Oh, OK, we hate Donald Trump and we’re going to elect Democrats.’ We actually have to sell it.”

One California Democratic consultant in the state put it a different way: If Democrats bank on increased turnout that might not happen, they could get burned.

“If you’re waiting for the wave on your surfboard for six hours and the wave never comes, that’s a long day in the sun,” the consultant said.

This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District. If you no longer wish to subscribe, just let me know by responding with a request to do so.

Also follow me on Facebook & Twitter @SenatorMoorlach

MOORLACH UPDATE — The Joys of Presenting Bills — April 24, 2018

Monday was mixed. SB 1363 passed unanimously on the Senate Floor. SB 1074 was killed in the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee on the basis that the price for a gallon is the price for a gallon of gas and the details be damned. And SB 1031, 1032 and SB 1433 were killed in the Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee, with SB 1033 held back for more consultation with the Committee Chair and CalPERS. The Sacramento Bee covers it in the first piece below. It also discusses SB 1149, of which I was a proud Co-Author.

SB 1159 went out of Senate Appropriations successfully (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Right to Peaceably Assemble — April 13, 2018). The new Editor for CalMatters, Dan Morain, has some fun with it in the second piece below. Dan was formally with the LA Times and recently resigned from the Sacramento Bee. We go pretty far back.

Dan’s piece brings up an interesting concern. As a C.P.A., am I prohibited from doing something that will encourage more C.P.A.s to run for legislative office? Is it really self-serving? Would any other legislator be able to carry such a bill?

All retired C.P.A.s are required to note that they are “retired” or “inactive” on their stationery. But, attorneys in the Legislature are exempted from the requirement to obtain continuing professional education. Other professional licenses do not require qualifiers. I know that retired military officers do it. If you’ve earned an MBA, you can keep it behind your name for the remainder of your life.

Accordingly, I worked for the last couple of years with the California State Board of Accountancy for a reasonable solution. They recommended that instead of doing something administratively, that I introduce a bill. The Board supported the language we proposed for SB 1159. I did have a potential author, a former staffer for Congressman Brad Sherman, but he resigned from the Assembly recently. Consequently, I decided to move forward and let the cards fall where they may.

For entertainment value, the most recent edition of Inside OC finds host Rick Reiff rattling my cage on a number of current issues. It’s the third link below.

Last week I voted “No” on SB 832 (Portantino) and SB 951 (Mitchell). When I was interviewed by the OC Register‘s Editorial Board about my candidacy for State Senator in 2015, I provided the following position (see MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — OC Register Endorsement — February 15, 2015):

Though the Legislature has often doled out tax credits to preferred industries, such as Hollywood and “green-energy” companies, Mr. Moorlach finds such favoritism distasteful. “I’m not an advocate of special incentives,” he said.

Three years later and I’m still of the same mind. I would prefer to deposit $330 million in one of California’s pension plans or other post employment benefits to reduce the unfunded liabilities. And why give a tax credit to one industry when so many others are trying to make do? Why not a “no better, no worse” approach?

And, worse, while the Capitol is trying to improve the culture, why give tax credits to an industry that brought us Weinstein and Toback? The Los Angeles Business Journal mentions the fun on this topic in the fourth piece below.

The LA Times addresses SB 1206 (De Leon) in the fifth piece below. This bill was introduced by Sen. De Leon and myself and I will be presenting it in the Senate Health Committee tomorrow. We need funding to build immediate housing for the state’s mentally ill homeless population and we need to do it now. This is a new approach on “No Place Like Home.”

Last week, Wednesday, I had one of the more awkward moments while presenting a bill. SB 1325 used an existing “Act” title. Rather than debate the actual policy in my bill, one of my Senate colleagues made it personal and proceeded to impugn my intentions where he actually presumed that I was being a racist toward an Asian Pacific Islander Caucus member, a charge that not only caught me off guard, but was highly inappropriate and regrettable.

I met with both of them the following morning to dispose them of any untoward motives. Ironically, a few minutes after these two discussions, my grandson, Koa, was born. Koa would qualify as a member of the Asian Pacific Islander Caucus.

The presentation is addressed by Vactruth.com in the last piece below.

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The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

Cost-of-living adjustments for California state worker pensions are safe, for now

BY ADAM ASHTON

aashton

http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/the-state-worker/article209675374.html

Future state workers, your pension cost-of-living adjustments are safe, and you won’t get to choose between a CalPERS pension and a 401(k) plan anytime soon.

Both proposals were shot down on Monday by a Senate committee that rejected a pack of bills aimed at reducing the risk taxpayers face if an economic crisis cripples the state’s public pension funds.

Most of the bills came from Republican Sen. John Moorlach of Costa Mesa and Democratic Sen. Steve Glazer of Orinda, who argue that the rising cost of public pensions could drive local governments into bankruptcy when the next recession hits.

“We need to right-size the system. We need to restore public trust, because we’re going off a fiscal cliff,” said Glazer, the former Orinda mayor who sponsored the bill that would have allowed state workers to choose to participate in defined contribution 401(k) plan instead of the defined benefit plan offered by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.

California’s two largest public pension funds, CalPERS and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, each have about 71 percent of the assets they’d need to pay all of the benefits they owe to public workers and retirees.

They’ve been trying to close the gap between what they have and what they owe by raising the amount of money they charge to public employers and employees, prompting some local governments and school districts to complain that pension costs are “crowding out” resources for other services.

But Glazer and Moorlach could not convince the Senate Public Employee and Retirement Committee that the looming crisis they see is dangerous enough to tinker with pension commitments made by the state and local agencies to millions of people.

Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, countered that she wanted to find ways to encourage more people to join pension programs instead of 401(k) plans. “I just think we need to do everything we can to get our young people into defined-benefit plans,” she said.

The pension overhaul bills the committee rejected were:

Moorlach’s Senate Bill 1032, which would make it easier for local governments to separate from CalPERS without paying the hefty termination fees that CalPERS charges to fund pension obligations for defunct agencies. If an agency quits CalPERS without paying the fees, CalPERS slashes the pensions it provides to the agency’s former workers.

Moorlach’s SB 1031, which would prohibit pension funds from providing cost-of-living adjustments to retirees if the pension fund has less than 80 percent of the assets it would need to pay the benefits it owes. Most retired public employees can receive cost-of-living adjustments of 2 percent each year, but some contracts allow up to 5 percent. Moorlach’s proposal would have applied only to state workers hired after Jan. 1, 2019.

▪ Glazer’s SB 1149, which would have allowed new state workers to opt for a 401(k) plan instead of a pension. The concept is attractive to younger workers who do not intend to be career civil servants. The University of California is offering a similar plan, and 37 percent of new workers are choosing 401(k) plans instead of pensions.

The bills are essentially dead for this legislative session, although they could be revived if enough lawmakers want to bring them back from reconsideration.

A long line of union representatives spoke against each bill. Terry Brennand, a lobbyist for SEIU California, called the Glazer bill a “disaster waiting to happen.”

Ted Toppin, a lobbyist for state scientists and engineers, called the bill to waive CalPERS’ termination fees an opportunity for employers to “stiff” their workers in retirement.

The unions want more time for the pension funds to benefit from recent changes that have employers kicking in more money for retirement plans and to recalibrate from the 2012 law that eliminated especially generous plans that the Legislature offered to public employees during the dot-com boom.

 

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By Dan Morain

An accountant’s trick

 

Calling politicians self-serving can be redundant. It can be bipartisan, too.

Sen. John Moorlach, an Orange County Republican, and Congressman Brad Sherman, a San Fernando Valley Democrat, are certified public accountants. Because they haven’t kept up with their continuing education requirements, their licenses are inactive. No big deal. Lots of professionals let their licenses lapse.

So what? In 2009, the Legislature, without a single no vote, approved a measure that says all inactive CPAs must disclose their status on any business communications in which they call themselves CPAs. That includes Moorlach and Sherman.

Unlike other CPAs, however, Moorlach can carry legislation, and he is, to the delight of Sherman.Senate Bill 1159 would exempt any CPA member of the Legislature or Congress from having to disclose that they’re inactive. The bill would affect two people: Moorlach and Sherman. Sherman wrote a letter of support:

“I believe that my colleagues, as well as other interested parties, would more carefully review my letters and documents on tax and budgeting issues if I could sign them as follows: Congressman Brad Sherman, CPA.”

A rich target: The Senate Appropriations Committee approved Moorlach’s bill unanimously on Monday. At an earlier hearing, Moorlach seemed somewhat sheepish, calling the bill “a little self-serving.” Sen. Bill Dodd, a Napa Valley Democrat, voted no at that hearing, and made a point that accountants would appreciate: pushing a single bill through the legislative process costs about $10,000.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzIE8NKn1Xg

 

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ENTERTAINMENT: FINAL BILL COULD INCLUDE INCENTIVES ON DIVERSITY

Film Credit Clears Committees

By Matthew Blake

Los Angeles — A bill to extend California’s motion picture tax credit program sailed through Assembly and Senate committees last week.

“Clearly we have a lot of work to do – I think there is much more we should do,” said Kansen Chu, a San Jose-based Democrat and chair of the Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media committee.

Chu and four other members of the committee all voted on April 18 to approve Assembly Bill 1734, which would lengthen by five years California’s $330-million-a-year film and television tax credit program. The policy is due to sunset at the end of 2019.

Committee members also approved without opposition Assembly Bill 2936, a similar measure to continue the credits.

The California Senate Government and Finance Committee, meanwhile, passed its own tax credit legislation, Senate Bill 951, on April 19 by a 5-1 vote.

Chu expressed concerns the tax credits aren’t doing enough to diversify Hollywood.

Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon, a Democrat from eastern L.A. County and sponsor of AB 1734, has said that a final version of the bill could include greater incentives for women and minority filmmakers.

The California legislature passed in 2014 an expansion of the state’s tax credit program for movies and television shows from $100 million a year in credits to $330 million per annum.

The legislation provides television shows relocating to the Golden State and movies that shoot in California with a refund of 20 percent to 25 percent on crew member wages, as well as production and editing costs. The policy applies statewide but has an outsized effect in Los Angeles County, which hosts more than 90 percent of shoots that use the credits.

California differs from other states, such as Georgia and Louisiana, by limiting its credit programs to film crew, without reimbursement for the wages of actors, writers and directors.

The California Chamber of Commerce and various labor unions attended the committee hearing to shower praise on tax credits, stating that they generated billions of dollars in spending including crew wages.

The lone dissenting vote came from Sen. John Moorlach, a Costa Mesa Republican.

“I don’t want to pick winners and losers” among businesses, Moorlach said in an interview. “I want to try and protect tax revenues for my state.”

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With money tied up in court,

California lawmakers try again with

new plan to spend $2 billion on

homeless housing

By LIAM DILLON

http://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-ca-essential-politics-updates-with-money-tied-up-in-court-california-1524524828-htmlstory.html

A measure to spend $2 billion on housing homeless Californians could be on the November statewide ballot.

State Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) is pushing the idea to deal with what he said was a “burgeoning humanitarian crisis whose epicenter is here in California.”

De León’s new measure is a do-over for a 2016 plan passed by the Legislature to redirect $2 billion toward building homeless housing from a voter-approved 1% income tax surcharge on millionaires that funds mental health services. A Sacramento attorney sued over that decision, arguing that the move violated constitutional rules on approving loans without a public vote and that lawmakers shouldn’t take money away from mental health treatment. The case remains active in Sacramento Superior Court and it’s unclear when, or if, the state will be able to spend the $2 billion.

De León’s Senate Bill 1206 would put the $2-billion loan on the ballot in November, freeing up the money if voters approve the measure. De León said had he been able to predict the 2016 plan would end up in court, he would have sought a ballot measure at the time.

“We thought this was like apple pie and baseball and puppies,” De León said. “Who would oppose the idea of repurposing the dollars to build immediate housing as a permanent solution for homelessness? Obviously with a crystal ball, had I anticipated the litigation, I would have worked to place it on the ballot.”

De León noted that the 2016 plan had bipartisan supermajority support in the Legislature, something his new bill also will need to get on the ballot. Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) is a coauthor of the plan.

SB 1206 is scheduled for its first hearing in the Legislature on Wednesday.

Should De León’s measure be approved, it will join a crowded list of housing issues before voters in November. Californians will decide on a separate $4-billion bond to help finance new low-income housing and home loans for veterans. De León said he’s not worried those two measures will compete against each other because voters are aware of the scale of the state’s housing problems and the proposed homeless housing bond redirects existing dollars instead of raising taxes.

“Once [voters] know that the impact on their pocketbook is not existent, I’m confident that they’ll join me and my colleague John Moorlach in support of this measure,” De León said.

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California Democratic Senators Newman and Pan Caught Fabricating Racism To Exterminate Civil Rights Bill

https://vactruth.com/2018/04/24/racist-california-democratic-senators/

Last week California Democratic Senators Josh Newman and Richard Pan fabricated claims of racism to exterminate a civil rights bill, and they got away with it despite their failure to provide any evidence substantiating their allegations. To date, Senators Newman and Pan have not been held accountable for their actions.

The civil rights bill these Democratic Senators exterminated was simple: it would have guaranteed individuals and families the right to self-quarantine in their homes in the event of a pandemic, without fear of being criminalized for simply existing in their natural state (i.e., free of antibiotics or experimental vaccines). Why would anyone want to exterminate a person’s obvious right to simply exist at home in an un-medicated state, especially a perfectly healthy person?

Well, apparently the California Senate Health Committee wants to exterminate such a right.

Background of this Civil Rights Bill: PANDA

The bill in question was a scientifically supported, common sense civil rights safeguard introduced by Republican Senator John Moorlach. It was originally authored and named the Peaceful and Natural Dignity Act (“PANDA”) in the year 2013 by Greg Glaser, JD, for the Pandemic Response Project. Here is the original Change.org petition from the year 2013: link.

PANDA was written and named by Glaser before virtually everyone (including Glaser) had ever heard of Senator Pan. This is because the PANDA bill was written 1-year before Senator Pan gained notoriety by introducing California’s mandatory vaccination law SB 277. Recall that Senator Pan capitalized on the 2014 Disneyland measles event to push SB 277 through the California legislature, even though not a single child was injured by those measles, or even by most measles – see here; and further, the measles-containing vaccine has not been scientifically proven to be safer than the measles – see here.

We spoke with Glaser to confirm these details. And indeed, Glaser helped us confirm the obvious: his bill “PANDA” was named before Pan’s SB 277 and it was a reference to the word “pandemic” because it came through the Pandemic Response Project.

Interestingly, when naming the bill in 2013, Glaser chose the panda bear analogy because, in his words, “The panda is a beautiful symbol of both peace and nature, especially given the legal protection pandas enjoy.

As an endangered species they are afforded legal protection to exist in their own natural home habitat. So protecting pandas in their home is a good analogy for also protecting the right of peaceful humans to live naturally in our homes, even if there is a pandemic somewhere among the public outside.”

Moreover, “PANDAS” is also the well-known acronym for the prominent vaccine injury, “Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcus”.

Democratic Senators Newman and Pan Fabricate a Race Card to Exterminate Civil Rights

Senator Moorlach who introduced the bill was shocked when Senator Newman claimed on the record that there were racial and offensive undertones to the pneumonic title “PANDA” (Peaceful and Natural Dignity Act). In addition to whispering something to Senator Newman before the event in question, Senator Pan nodded along in agreement with Senator Newman that the bill’s name was a personal affront to Senator Pan.

In the words of Senator Newman: “Where did the acronym PANDA come from? The panda animal would seem to have very little to do with vaccinations, but it does tend to have a racial or ethnic tinge to it; it also includes the first three letters of my colleague’s name, and I could see where one might take offense.” See video at 2:03:40: link.

From the video recording, Senator Moorlach was obviously stunned and speechless at Senator Newman’s allegation. Senator Moorlach said he did not know what to say, because he had never drawn the same pneumonic association that Newman was suggesting was racial. The video also shows the Democratic chair of the Committee refused to let Glaser even speak a word to explain the bill’s name origin (naturally, Glaser would have explained that PANDA was a reference to “pandemic” because it came through the Pandemic Response Project, long before SB 277). It is currently unknown whether the chair of the committee was also collaborating with Newman to intentionally fabricate a racism allegation, especially because he was also involved in the pre-event whispers with Senator Pan.

It is also unknown how much information the other Senators had about PANDA’s name origin. Their complete silence on the video suggests they lacked context or information necessary to know that Newman and Pan’s race card had indeed been fabricated.

The notion of racism here was simply a non-issue, but as no California Senator would ever go on record supporting a civil rights bill that could be perceived or labeled as having a potentially racist title, they obviously all voted no. Perhaps the majority would have voted no anyway on the merits, but we will probably never know.

PANDA: Why It Is Necessary

Glaser says the PANDA bill is necessary to create a civil rights safeguard against current California law that allows authorities to exercise a form of absolute power, by arresting healthy individuals who simply choose to remain un-medicated at home during a pandemic:

The local health officer may take any preventive measure that may be necessary to protect and preserve the public health from any public health hazard during any “state of war emergency,” “state of emergency,” or “local emergency”…. Any person who… refuses or neglects to conform … is guilty of a misdemeanor.”

Cal. Health and Safety Code §§101040 and 120275

According to Glaser’s research submitted for the Senate hearing, PANDA was based upon a report by public health scholars at Boston University, in partnership with the ACLU, who found:

“Highly discriminatory and forcible vaccination and quarantine measures adopted in response to outbreaks of the plague and smallpox over the past century have consistently accelerated rather than slowed the spread of disease, while fomenting public distrust and, in some cases, riots…”

Annas, G., Mariner, W., Parmet, W., Pandemic Preparedness: The Need for a Public Health (Not A Law Enforcement/National Security) Approach. American Civil Liberties Union, January 2008.

And the CDC has observed the exact same phenomenon, which was reported in the CDC’s published journal in the year 2013:

During outbreaks of plague and cholera, the fear of discrimination and mandatory quarantine and isolation led the weakest social groups and minorities to escape affected areas and, thus, contribute to spreading the disease farther and faster, as occurred regularly in towns affected by deadly disease outbreaks. [And] in the globalized world, fear, alarm, and panic, augmented by global media, can spread farther and faster and, thus, play a larger role than in the past.

Tognotti, E., Lessons from the History of Quarantine, from Plague to Influenza A, Centers for Diseases Control EID Journal, Volume 19, Number 2—February 2013; DOI: 10.3201/eid1902.120312

Glaser also highlighted during the Senate Hearing that PANDA has a legal precedent in California’s current Tuberculosis control law:

“No examination or inspection shall be required of any person who depends exclusively on prayer for healing in accordance with the teachings of any well recognized religious sect, denomination or organization and claims exemption on that ground, except that the provisions of this code regarding compulsory reporting of communicable diseases and isolation and quarantine shall apply where there is probable cause to suspect that the person is infected with the disease in a communicable stage. Such person shall not be required to submit to any medical treatment, or to go to or be confined in a hospital or other medical institution; provided, he or she can be safely quarantined and/or isolated in his or her own home or other suitable place of his or her choice.” Cal. Health & Safety Code section 121370

Sixty physicians were on record supporting PANDA, along with several PhDs and rights groups. By contrast, the AAP was opposed to the bill. Ultimately, the Senate Health Committee voted no on the bill. But suspiciously, they never even engaged Glaser or Moorlach in dialogue regarding the substantive points raised by the ACLU and CDC Journal findings.

Instead, Senator Pan conducted a unilateral dialogue with a single opposition witness regarding cherry-picked measles cases. Senator Pan did not question the expert witness in support of PANDA, Tina Kimmel, PhD, MPH, who worked for the California Department of Public Health for most of her career, including within the Immunization Branch.

Dr. Kimmel provided testimony that emphasized why mandating vaccination has been proven to be counterproductive to public health goals. Indeed, none of the Senators asked Dr. Kimmel any questions. So on multiple levels, it does not appear that PANDA was given a fair or honest hearing.

If PANDA Had Been Given A Fair Hearing

Let’s consider why this bill – PANDA – is much more effective than mass coercive vaccination in the event of a public health emergency.

Even if we ignore the studies and surveys that show unvaccinated people are statistically healthier than vaccinated people, we cannot ignore the large, time-tested and statistically validated fact that isolation, sanitization and self-quarantine is far and away the most effective method whereby infectious disease transmission is obviated.

Note for example the figure below: it compares smallpox fatality rates in virtually unvaccinated and “unprotected” Leicester versus vaccinated/revaccinated populations in various areas (Japan, London, etc.). What does one see? The smallpox fatality rates are significantly lower in unvaccinated Leicester – a region which utilized the self-quarantine method to preclude infectious disease transmission.

The facts ostensibly demonstrate that mass coercive vaccination is not the most effective method (in fact, evidence indicates it worsens mortality).

Beyond the scientific aspect, coercive vaccination (in public health emergencies) that abrogates civil liberties, constitutional rights, and bioethical principles internationally regarded (bodily autonomy, inviolability, self-determination, etc.) acts to foster distrust of governmental authorities, and actually elicits greater rebellion and associated chaos. These legal concerns from the ACLU and CDC were the primary point that Glaser emphasized during the hearing, while his fellow witness, Dr. Kimmel, focused her testimony on the public health benefits of PANDA.

So, what could possibly be the impetus for opposition to this logical, scientifically/statistically proven method, which sensibly balances public health with respect for civil liberties? Did Big Pharma strike again?

We contacted Glaser after the hearing to obtain his impression of the day’s events. In his own words:

“When Senator Newman challenged the name PANDA as derogatory, I was shocked. I know Senator Moorlach was shocked too. He was just standing there and didn’t know what to say. Obviously racism isn’t something our offices had ever talked about or even considered.

The Committee chair wouldn’t even let me speak to explain the bill’s origins from the word “pandemic”. I found it strange that a surprise, fabricated side-issue could actually derail a very serious civil rights bill. I’m not a political guy, so I didn’t really understand what was happening in that Senate room. All I know is what I saw.

The Senators asked no questions about the ACLU or CDC references that we provided. Perhaps that’s just how these hearings go, but it didn’t seem like an honest hearing to me. From my experience in courtrooms, I can only say that ignoring actual evidence in favor of an unsubstantiated sideshow would never happen in an honest courtroom.

I also observed several other bills on calendar at this Health Committee, and there was an obvious pattern – this Health Committee has taken up the banner of financing the public’s demand for drugs and surgery.

I would say that even appears to be their primary purpose. Natural health and organic living are not discussed or considered among these Senators, let alone respected as the primary means for good health. If mass financing of drugs and surgery is what California health politics has devolved into, I have no interest.

Glaser also advised that he is uncertain where his PANDA bill may go from here. But he did offer a parting insight:

“If you believe that we can trust pharmaceutical companies to inject people only with drugs and toxins that are good for them, then you are neither a historian nor a critical thinker. There is a reason these companies demanded legal immunity from lawsuits – their products are inherently dangerous. And government officials are also immune from lawsuits. So the system inherently lacks accountability, regardless of one’s position on vaccination. Sadly, the political system is ironically dismissing the scientific method to promote a one-size-fits-all experimental pharmacy for the American people. Even vaccine-enthusiasts must admit that mandatory vaccination policies eliminate the continued availability of a control sample – a group of healthy and natural people – who check and balance their assumptions about the science of immunity.”

This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District. If you no longer wish to subscribe, just let me know by responding with a request to do so.

Also follow me on Facebook & Twitter @SenatorMoorlach

MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 1463 Redux — March 30, 2018

Allow me to wish you a solemn Good Friday.

The first piece below in CalMatters was hinted at in yesterday’s UPDATE (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Homelessness Press Release — March 29, 2018) .

CalMatters has done a lengthy analysis on the condition of the state’s forests. The status is not good. Government does not manage forests well. In fact, when I sat on the County’s retirement board, it owned hundreds of acres of timberland. None of it was next to or near a federal or state forest. And that was intentional.

I was happy to comment for the piece by calling out the utter hypocrisy of our Governor’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gases. I participated in a recent Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee Hearing on the condition of the state’s forests. I called out the Governor’s blind spot there, so I did it again (see
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hARsdtnpEFY).

I tried to address this with SB 1463 (2016), which is the only bill that I have ever had vetoed by a Governor over the more than two decades that I’ve been in this industry (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Secretive and Expensive Union Deals — November 3, 2017 and MOORLACH UPDATE — Fire Safety Concerns — October 27, 2017.

It’s painful to try and address a matter, have it pooh-poohed, and then watch as 44 people are killed by a fire started by electric lines in Sonoma and Napa counties. I have been here before; trying to prevent major tragedies is what I do.

This year, I’m bringing SB 1463 back (see http://district37.cssrc.us/content/senate-bill-1463-cap-and-trees). But, with a twist. Use Cap and Trade Tax revenues to harden utility lines, like those that run directly adjacent to Laguna Canyon Road (133). I mentioned this in the Budget and Fiscal Review Hearing for a reason.

Now that I’m on the subject of my 2018 legislation, next week I present the following bills:

April 2 — SB 1159 – CPA Designation
See http://district37.cssrc.us/content/senate-bill-1159-cpa-designation)
Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee

April 4 — SB 1368 – Statewide Open Enrollment
See http://district37.cssrc.us/content/senate-bill-1368-statewide-open-enrollment
Senate Education Committee

April 4 — SB 1344 and SCA 16 – Education Savings Account Act of 2020
See http://district37.cssrc.us/content/senate-bill-1344-senate-constitutional-amendment-16-education-savings-account-act-2020
Senate Education Committee
NOTE: Please watch the two short videos on this subject at the link.

April 4 — SB 1363 – National Alliance on Mental Illness California Voluntary Tax Contribution Fund
See http://district37.cssrc.us/content/senate-bill-1363-national-alliance-mental-illness-california-voluntary-tax-contribution-fund
Senate Governance and Finance Committee

It has been a very busy Easter Break here in the District. As you can imagine, I had a rather packed calendar and plenty of preparation to do for next week. The homeless discussion that Judge Carter has forced on many communities and their elected leaders has really shaken up the OC. And the family fighting has not been pretty or pleasant. Consequently, there are two follow up articles on this subject. They are in the Daily Pilot and the Voice of OC in the second and third paraphrased pieces below; since you’ve read enough this week (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Homelessness Communication — March 28, 2018 march 28, 2018 john moorlach).

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California fights wildfires aggressively—but prevention takes a back seat

By Julie Cart

https://calmatters.org/articles/california-fights-wildfires-aggressively-but-prevention-takes-a-back-seat/

Dave Kinateder has a keen eye for trees. But when Kinateder, a fire ecologist in the Plumas National Forest, surveys a hillside lush with pines, he doesn’t see abundance or the glory of nature’s bounty.

He sees a disaster-in-waiting.

“It’s a ticking time bomb,” he said, gazing across the dense, green carpet of trees near Quincy, a small community high in the northern Sierra Nevada.

Last year’s wildfires, the worst in modern California history, have put a microscope on the forests that cover a third of the state–in particular, on managing these wooded lands in ways that would reduce the frequency and intensity of such blazes.

California is grappling with the counterintuitive dilemma of too many trees, packed too closely together, robbed of the space they need to thrive—and with how to clear out more than 100 million dead trees, felled by drought or insects, that provide tinder for the next infernos.

Curing these unhealthy forests is both difficult and expensive, and as with human health, prevention is far less costly than treatment. But these days the state firefighting agency, Cal Fire, spends the bulk of its resources battling fires rather than practicing preventive measures.

At stake is nothing less than life, property, air quality and the lands that hold most of California’s water. A state commission recently prescribed radical changes to address what it terms the “neglect” of California’s largest forests.

A 19th-century California forest would have held fewer than 50 trees an acre. Today the state’s forests have grown to an unnatural 300 to 500 trees an acre, or more. That doesn’t count the 2 million drought-stressed trees a month lost to bark beetles that have killed entire stands.

Gov. Jerry Brown, who in 2014 declared tree mortality a state of emergency, said in his January State of the State address that California needs to manage its forests more intelligently. He vowed to convene a task force “to review thoroughly the way our forests are managed and suggest ways to reduce the threat of devastating fires.”

California has dozens of agencies attacking problem but still cannot keep up with the work. Crews around the state have been busy clearing trees as fast as funding allows. This wielding of chainsaws they call “whacking and stacking” leaves massive wood piles along highways in some areas. But it amounts to no more than triage: Cal Fire removes trees on fewer than 40,000 acres a year, far short of its goal of clearing a half-million acres annually.

Kinateder estimates that removing trees in this way costs as much as $1,400 an acre. By comparison, controlled burns—those set by fire managers to remove vegetation from forests—is a bargain at less than $150 an acre. Fighting a wildfire comes in at just over $800 an acre, according to the report.

Far from the forest floor, California officials are wrestling with the financial and environmental cost of the state’s forest practices. At a hearing in March in Sacramento, legislators listened to lurid descriptions of raging fire and wrenching stories of human misery recounted by a stream of state and local officials: flames rearing up like an enormous beast, residents running for their lives, neighborhoods leveled, fire burning so hot and for so long that soils were rendered sterile.

California’s troubled forests

33 Million
Number of forested acres in California

129 million
Number of dead trees in California

500,000 Acres
Number of acres Cal Fire* aspires to clear each year

40,000 Acres
Number of acres Cal Fire clears each year

$800
Average cost per acre to fight a fire

$150
Average cost per acre to clear a forest by controlled burn

* California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

Source: Little Hoover Commission report on forest management in California, February 2018

A portion of the proceedings focused on a recent report about wildfires and forest health from the Little Hoover Commission, an independent state oversight agency that gave its findings to the governor and Legislature in February. The document pulled no punches, calling the state of the Sierra Nevada’s forests “an unprecedented environmental catastrophe.”

It cited a century of “mismanaging” the 10 million wooded acres in the Sierra, calling out state and federal firefighting agencies for their longstanding policy of aggressively putting out all fires rather than letting those that can safely burn do so, thereby thinning the choked woodlands.

Helge Eng, deputy director of Cal Fire, acknowledged the report was “spot on” in its assessment of the state of the Sierra, adding that the analysis “did an especially good job of recognizing that there are no easy, black-and-white answers to the problems we are facing.”

Cal Fire boasts that it stops 95 percent of fires at 10 acres or less, saving lives, property and entire forests from conflagration. Fire experts argue that a negative could be turned into a positive if fire bosses let them burn while still steering them away from people and structures and toward overgrown wildlands in need of clearing.

That’s an approach sometimes used by the National Park Service, but it’s difficult to defend when forests are ablaze, frightening the public and many elected officials alike.

Still, the report said, “it is not enough for agency leaders, scientists and advocates to recognize the benefits of fire as a tool; the bureaucracy of the state government and public sentiment as a whole must undergo a culture shift to embrace fire as a tool for forest health.”

Eng said Cal Fire is considering adopting the managed-burn approach, when appropriate, but noted that federal firefighters are often working in wild settings, away from development.

“Cal Fire’s mission is different; we protect life and property” in areas that may be densely populated, Eng said in a written response to questions. “There is most often not an opportunity to let a fire burn. The risk to human life is just too great.”

The report also detailed a public safety threat from 129 million dead trees, the crushing cost—up to $1,000 a tree—to private property owners to have trees removed from their land and the enormous burden on rural governments to both recover from fire and prepare their forests to mitigate the intensity of the next one. In no uncertain terms, the commission prescribed dramatically ramping up tree-thinning projects and, as awful as the optics are, creating and controlling some fires to achieve the same result.

Eng agreed that the state firefighting agency was far from achieving its “aspirational” goal of clearing a half-million acres of land each year, citing such impediments as “the logistics of capacity of staff and equipment and environmental compliance,” among other factors.

In a moment notable for its rarity in Sacramento, there was bipartisan agreement in the hearing room this month about the problem, its scope and the appropriate measures to deal with it. Focus more intensely on the problem, they agreed, and throw money at it. The state spent $900 million fighting fires last year. Just one of those late-season blazes caused more than $9 billion in reported property damage.

“We’ve made mistakes, and we’ve created systems that are unwieldy….

It’s all of our fault,” Jim Branham, executive officer of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, a state agency, told CALmatters. “Money alone won’t solve it, but we won’t solve it without money, either.”

The mosaic of land ownership in California means the state owns only 2 percent of the forests but has legal responsibility over much more: 31 million acres, including land in rural counties.

Cal Fire received more than $200 million for forest health projects last year and has proposed an additional $160 million for the next fiscal year. Those sums are on top of the agency’s current $2.7 billion budget. Cal Fire, in turn, doles out millions of those dollars in grants to local governments and community groups to do some thinning themselves, and it teams with the federal Forest Service to tackle clearing projects.

The work to improve forest health dovetails with other state priorities—protecting water sources and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

The Sierra Nevada range is the headwaters for 60 percent of California’s developed water supply. Burned, denuded hillsides don’t store water efficiently when it rains. Sediment cascades downhill, filling streams, affecting water quality and loading up reservoirs, reducing their storage capacity

The carbon equation is equally direct: When trees burn or decay, they release greenhouse gases. The 2013 Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park produced emissions equal to those of 2.3 million cars in a year.

Prescribed burns emit less carbon than higher-intensity fires, because managed fire is aimed at smaller trees and shrubs. Cleared forest land may still ignite, but it will burn with less intensity and fewer emissions.

Moreover, when trees die, they stop absorbing carbon from the atmosphere. The state depends on that critical service to help reduce greenhouse gases. Research suggests that severely burned areas regrow with shrubs or grasses, plants that store about 10 percent less carbon than trees do.

John Moorlach, a Republican state senator from Costa Mesa, suggests the Democratic governor, a champion of the fight against climate change, has a “gigantic blind spot” when it comes to reducing carbon emissions. Moorlach said in an interview that Brown’s emphasis on electric cars, for example, ignores the role of fire in California’s greenhouse gas inventory.

“We’re being absolute phonies about climate change if we are not dealing with the real driver of greenhouse gas; that’s these wildfires,” said Moorlach. He has proposed that the state dedicate 25 percent of the revenue from its cap and trade greenhouse-gas-reduction system to help counties’ fire mitigation efforts.

Counties would welcome the help. Randy Hanvelt, a supervisor in Tuolumne County, said that where forest management is concerned, there’s a “leadership problem.”

“Talk is cheap,” he said. “We have got ourselves a giant colossal mess. This is a war of sorts. Time is against us. Every available tool has to be applied.”

One such tool is carefully designed burns. But the meticulous planning necessary can take two to three years, and the burns require favorable weather, a permit from the local air district and, crucially, buy-in from local communities that must first be educated about the benefits. And controlled doesn’t mean risk-free.

“Politically, you have to have the ability to make mistakes and move on,” he said.

Nick Bunch, who plans thinning projects for the Plumas National Forest, pointed to a partly cleared hillside outside of Quincy where one of his extensively planned prescribed burns went awry, undone by a shift in the wind.

“We were about an hour into the burn and the smoke started going into town,” Bunch said, shaking his head at the memory. Even though the burn was going as planned, the smoke was not acceptable to nearby residents, who protested to fire officials. “Phones started ringing. Calls were made, and we shut it down.”

Another method is used in Florida, which trains and certifies private property owners to burn their overgrown land and provides limited liability coverage in some cases. Florida cleared 2.1 million acres this way last year. Scott Stephens, who heads a wildland fire research lab at the University of California, Berkeley, said the widespread adoption of the policy has educated residents on both its benefits and risks.

Back in Plumas County, a hulking building in a parking lot outside a community health complex may offer the final piece of the forest-health puzzle: creating a market for trees removed from California’s forests.

Part of a project managed by the Sierra Institute for Community and Environment, the unremarkable square structure shows a potential use for California trees. The building is the state’s first to be fully constructed from cross-laminated timber—layers of wood pressed together to make thick sheets and posts—equal to or greater than the strength of steel.

In addition, the $2.3 million facility will house a large boiler to provide heat for the health center by consuming 500 tons of local wood chips a year.

The project is the brainchild of the institute, which envisions it as a way to boost the economies of forest communities. It’s the kind of innovation the governor and Legislature hoped to promote by establishing a Wood Products Working Group to develop commercial uses for the piles of trees beside the state’s roads.

There’s little left in California today of the early 20th century’s timber cutters, sawmills and biomass industry. If the state follows the Little Hoover Commission’s recommendations and accelerates forest thinning, an entire segment of state industry would need to be rejuvenated.

Meanwhile, officials emphasize the need to educate Californians about the role of forests in the ecosystem.

“If you want people to care about something, they have to understand why it matters,” said Pedro Nava, chairman of the Little Hoover Commission. “They need to understand the deep connection between the health of our state and the state of our forests.”

Branham, of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, said that won’t be easy.

“Some of our messages are counterintuitive: We must cut down healthy living trees to save the forest,” he noted. “It’s a challenge.”

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Costa Mesa council opposes using Fairview Developmental Center as emergency homeless shelter

By LUKE MONEY

http://www.latimes.com/socal/daily-pilot/news/tn-dpt-me-cm-fairview-meeting-20180329-story.html

In an interview Thursday, Moorlach said he thought “the City Council overreacted to a press release” and that the idea wasn’t “to put all of the homeless at Fairview.”

“I think there’s a stretch here,” he said. “There’s a hysteria and it’s sad to watch because leadership dictates that you have conversations and you start working on solutions and that’s all that occurred.”

There is no imminent or concrete plan, he added, and any legislative action regarding Fairview would likely take months to move forward.

In the background of all this is U.S. District Judge David Carter, who is presiding over a federal lawsuit that homeless advocates filed in response to the county’s move to clear encampments along the Santa Ana River. Moorlach said the judge has mentioned Fairview during those proceedings.

“I would think the residents of Costa Mesa would rather have the homeless in a facility that’s closed up at night … a place that’s safe and has security, than to have them in their backyard or at their businesses or on their porches,” Moorlach said.

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Costa Mesa Opposes Homeless Shelter at Fairview Mental Facility

By SPENCER CUSTODIO

https://voiceofoc.org/2018/03/costa-mesa-opposes-homeless-shelter-at-fairview-mental-facility/

Moorlach, in a Thursday podcast, criticized Spitzer’s actions over the past few weeks.

“We’re dying in Orange County and Sacramento for good leaders. We don’t need reactors. We need cooler heads. We need people that can control the situation and take the bigger picture and start providing solutions,” Moorlach said.

“It was real interesting to watch, say, Supervisor Spitzer, who is not leading. But he’s certainly reacting, he’s polarizing and he’s creating wedges between communities and leaders. It’s not a pretty picture.”

This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District. If you no longer wish to subscribe, just let me know by responding with a request to do so.

Also follow me on Facebook & Twitter @SenatorMoorlach

MOORLACH UPDATE — Homelessness Press Release — March 29, 2018

So a County Supervisor calls a State Senator and makes an inquiry. The Senator meets with a couple of colleagues for suggestions before the Spring Break. The Supervisor issues a press release to announce the exchange on his inquiry.

There is no plan. There is no intent. There is only an inquiry about a state facility that is in the process of closing.

This was the justification for a special city council meeting? A press release? I get NIMBYism. I get fear of the unknown. I get change.

But, holding a meeting about nothing?

I’ve provided a podcast on this topic, expressing my hopes that Judge David Carter finds the wisdom to come up with a solution to the stir he has created at
https://soundcloud.com/senator-john-moorlach/costa-mesa-let-cooler-heads-prevail/s-VsAIx.

For television reports on last evening’s meeting, go to http://www.foxla.com/news/local-news/costa-mesa-city-council-discuss-heated-issue-of-housing-the-homeless and http://abc7.com/news/3276564/.

Since I have been having fun this week with CBS 2/KCAL 9, I’ve provided their report in the first piece below. It can be seen at http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2018/03/28/costa-mesa-orange-county-homeless-fairview-council/.

Again, I did not float a “plan.” If anyone has something in mind, it’s Judge David Carter, who mentioned Fairview during his hearing of March 17. Don’t lose your focus. I responded to a fair and honest inquiry.

The OC Register and the Daily Pilot provide perspectives following the meeting in the next two pieces. And if that is not enough on this subject, My News LA also provides a pre-meeting thorough analysis in the fourth piece below.

BONUS: There are other topics to discuss. Tomorrow’s UPDATE will cover the one that is being tweeted today by CalMatters at the conclusion below.

OC Homeless: Costa Mesa

Gets Their Turn To Say, ‘Not

In My Backyard’

http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2018/03/28/costa-mesa-orange-county-homeless-fairview-council/

COSTA MESA (CBSLA) — A fired up crowd in Costa Mesa let city leaders have it Wednesday, the latest town to sound off on plans that could involve their community taking in dozens of homeless people recently displaced from an Orange County riverbed.

Costa Mesa is the latest city in a growing list of municipalities caught up in an ongoing saga of where to put hundreds of transients who had been living along a stretch of river going from Santa Ana to Anaheim.

Earlier this week, Orange County supervisors rescinded a plan that would have housed some homeless in tents in the cities of Irvine, Huntington Beach and Laguna Niguel after complaints from residents.

Another plan that was floated by State Sen. John Moorlach involved turning the soon-to-be shuttered Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa into housing for about 100 homeless people. That did not sit well with residents there.

Wednesday’s meeting came about after O.C. Supervisor Shawn Nelson seemed to go along with Moorlach’s proposed plan. At the meeting, a spokesman for Nelson backpedaled the earlier statement, saying the supervisor was not suggesting Fairview as an option, but that the city council should decide.

At least one woman at the meeting voiced her approval for the plan, but the majority of folks present balked at the idea.

“I am disappointed in what you have done to our city, and my silence stops now,” one woman told the Costa Mesa City Council. “I have trusted you. You have let me down continuously. Vote no on this, get the sober living homes out of my city and turn it back to what it was,” the woman continued to thunderous applause at the emergency meeting inside the Costa Mesa Senior Center.

Some residents tie the seemingly untenable homeless crisis in the area to the explosion of sober living facilities.

“We have to call it what it is. It’s not a homeless problem, it’s an addict problem, and until we treat it as such, it’s not gonna go away,” one man told the council.

“I can tell you in my neighborhood it is commonplace for us to witness all kinds of measures, including the sober living folks among the homeless, exposing themselves to, literally, women and children, used syringes and literally shooting up,” another man echoed.

The city council voted unanimously against the Fairview proposal.

Costa Mesa is opposing proposal for homeless shelter at Fairview Developmental Center

By TOMOYA SHIMURA

https://www.ocregister.com/2018/03/28/costa-mesa-is-opposing-proposal-for-homeless-shelter-at-fairview-developmental-center/

COSTA MESA — About 300 people showed at a special City Council meeting Wednesday, March 28, to discuss a proposal to turn the state-run Fairview Developmental Center into an emergency homeless shelter.

The meeting continued into the evening with more than 50 people speaking on the plan proposed by Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson and state Sen. John Moorlach. The council decided after about three hours to oppose the plan.

“It’s our residents, it’s our businesses that are going to be affected,” Mayor Sandra Genis said.

Most of the speakers opposed the plan, saying they already suffer from homeless problems and an abundance of sober living homes in Costa Mesa and they don’t want to turn their community into a Skid Row.

Some, however, said the city should do more to help the unfortunate, and housing homeless people is a good use of Fairview, which is set to close in 2021.

Nelson’s proposal is in response to U.S. District Judge David O. Carter’s demand for the county to find appropriate shelter for what could be a few hundred homeless people. Carter is overseeing a civil rights lawsuit filed by homeless people against the county.

The county board proposed creating tent cities in Irvine, Laguna Niguel and Huntington Beach to house 400 homeless people, but supervisors quickly rescinded the idea Tuesday after public backlash.

“Partnering with state Sen. Moorlach provides an additional boost and momentum to establish another temporary transitional homeless shelter for the county’s homeless population,” Nelson said in a press release announcing the plan.

City officials criticized Nelson for not reaching out to them before issuing the news release on Friday, March 23. Nelson, whose district doesn’t include Costa Mesa, wasn’t present at Wednesday’s meeting.

Supervisor Michele Steele, whose district includes Costa Mesa, didn’t make the meeting either, but her representatives said she opposes Nelson’s plan.

City Manager Tom Hatch said Costa Mesa already does more than its share to help the homeless. The city has hired several employees to work with the homeless and spends more than $1 million a year to support them, Hatch said.

Costa Mesa council opposes using Fairview Developmental Center as emergency homeless shelter

By LUKE MONEY

http://www.latimes.com/socal/daily-pilot/news/tn-dpt-me-cm-fairview-meeting-20180329-story.html

Less than a week after a proposal from an Orange County supervisor and a state senator sent shock waves through the community, Costa Mesa City Council members voiced unanimous disapproval of using the local Fairview Developmental Center as an emergency homeless shelter.

In front of a fuming crowd of more than 300 on Wednesday evening at the Costa Mesa Senior Center, council members said they think the city is already doing more than its fair share to provide services and resources to the homeless and that other cities — as well as the county — need to step up to the plate.

“It’s time for our supervisors, our county, our federal and state officials to demand that the rest of the county cities start participating in taking care of the homeless that live in their communities and not taking them to Santa Ana or to Costa Mesa or to Tustin,” Councilwoman Katrina Foley said. “It is important that we all participate and, if we all participate and we do our fair share, it’s a lot less of a burden and impact on every community.”

Of the dozens of residents who spoke at the special council meeting, most opposed the idea, saying they were concerned that developing a shelter at Fairview would jeopardize public safety, reduce property values and unduly burden the city.

Not everyone was against the concept, however. Some said the 114-acre property at 2501 Harbor Blvd. could be an important cog in a regional strategy to tackle homelessness.

On Friday, Supervisor Shawn Nelson issued a news release announcing that he and state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) were looking into the potential for using the state-owned Fairview site as an emergency homeless shelter.

The release also raised the possibility of “centralizing temporary housing and basic services for the homeless” at the developmental center, which opened in 1959. It currently provides services and housing to 133 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, according to the California Department of Developmental Services.

But in its resolution of opposition, the City Council called that a “regrettably rushed” idea proposed “without any public input or concern for local impacts.”

“This is land in the middle of the city; it’s governed by our general plan,” Mayor Sandy Genis said. “It’s our police that are going to be responding … it’s our paramedics that are going to be responding. It’s our residents, it’s our businesses that are going to be affected, and we can’t have the county just throwing that out there.”

Neither Nelson nor anyone from his office appeared to be at Wednesday’s meeting — a fact that didn’t go unnoticed among those in attendance.

“I hope that all of you will collectively address this spineless supervisor that essentially threw this grenade into a crowded room and couldn’t even bothered to show up to defend what he’s proposing,” resident Sue Lester said.

However, county Executive Officer Frank Kim told the council that he spoke with Nelson’s office Wednesday and was told “they do not support the use of the site without the cooperation of the council and input from the community.”

Nelson’s office could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday morning.

Kim also conveyed a message to the council from Supervisor Michelle Steel — whose district includes Costa Mesa — that “her office absolutely does not support the use of Fairview for [a] homeless shelter” and “the long-term use of that site should be discussed and worked out in collaboration with the city.”

Supervisor Todd Spitzer said during Wednesday’s meeting that he was “dismayed that somebody would put this into the public arena in such an irresponsible fashion” and is “terribly, terribly sorry that any respectable elected official would put something this derelict and dangerous into the community … without any input whatsoever.”

“To combine that in light of what happened last week in Orange County was beyond the pale to me,” he said, referring to the Board of Supervisors’ vote to develop temporary homeless shelters on county land in Huntington Beach, Irvine and Laguna Niguel. Supervisors scuttled that plan Tuesday in the face of opposition from residents and threats of litigation from the cities.

Like similar facilities around California, Fairview is scheduled to close as part of an effort to transition people out of institutional-style centers and into smaller accommodations that are more integrated into communities.

The goal is to move the center’s remaining residents to other living options by 2019, according to the state.

luke.money

Costa Mesa Objects to Proposal for Homeless Shelter

https://mynewsla.com/orange-county/2018/03/28/costa-mesa-objects-to-proposal-for-homeless-shelter/

A proposal to use a state-operated center for the developmentally disabled in Costa Mesa to house the area’s homeless was blasted Wednesday by city leaders.

“The Board of Supervisors are trying to shirk their own responsibility by putting the burden on the cities that are already doing more than their fair share on homelessness in Orange County,” said Costa Mesa Councilwoman Katrina Foley. “It was irresponsible of Supervisor (Shawn) Nelson to just throw out this idea of putting a tent city at Fairview Developmental Center. He clearly doesn’t understand the clientele that currently lives there.”

Nelson shot back, “That is an ignorant statement,” saying he never proposed erecting large tents to house transients at the site.

The scrum erupted a day after Orange County supervisors withdrew plans to consider “sprung structures,” which are large tent-like facilities that posh hotels often use to handle overflow from ballrooms at weddings and other special events, to house the homeless.

County officials earlier this month asked staff to look into the feasibility of using tents in Irvine, Huntington Beach and Laguna Niguel for emergency shelter for transients moved off the Santa Ana riverbed and at the Plaza of the Flags next to the Central Justice Center courthouse in Santa Ana. If the sites were viable, then county officials were going to negotiate terms with the cities.

Leaders in the three cities, however, immediately erupted with outrage and vowed to sue, prompting the county to back down.

Nelson said Costa Mesa officials’ worries about the Fairview site were premature, though he conceded that he asked Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, to ask state officials if it was possible to house transients there. State officials have plans to close the facility by 2020.

“We don’t have a plan, tent, balloon, nothing,” he said. “They have dorms there and we thought, hey, is there any scenario, is there any way we can use it.”

The idea originated at a March 17 court hearing presided over by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter, who is overseeing a lawsuit that led to a settlement in which transients were recently moved out of encampments along the riverbed into motels. Those motel stays were expected to be completed Wednesday with all of the transients wishing further services housed elsewhere.

Carter has since turned his attention to clearing out the encampments in Santa Ana’s civic center area next to the courthouse.

Nelson complained that any suggestion of operating emergency shelters anywhere in the county is met immediately with opposition from “NIMBYs.”

“Everyone thinks we should do something about the homeless, but no one wants the beds,” Nelson said. “Meanwhile, Santa Ana and Anaheim have been shouldering this for years. It’s unfortunate, but you get this visceral reaction which makes it really difficult to have a conversation because the entire conversation is spent defusing false narratives.”

The Fairview center has dormitory housing and not all of the beds are being used, Nelson said.

Foley accused county officials of hoarding grant money that could have been spent on the homeless for years.

“Maybe they need to use the millions of dollars at their disposal” to address the issue, she said.

Last year, Foley said city officials asked for funding from the county for homeless housing “and they came up with a whole bunch of excuses how we can’t get the funding.”

Carter, Foley noted, showed county officials recently that the county has $70.5 million available to provide housing for mentally ill transients. Supervisor Todd Spitzer recently criticized county staff for assuring the board the money wasn’t available for homeless housing.

“In three years, we’ve placed 53 residents into permanent supportive housing,” Foley said. “We’re now serving more than 150 (transients) so we’re doing our fair share and then some.”

Councilman Jim Righeimer agreed.

“The citizens of Costa Mesa are doing more than their fair share to handle the homeless issue for the county, and for the county to think now they can dump the homeless problem on us is not right,” Righeimer said.

Righeimer and Foley criticized Nelson for issuing a news release on the Fairview proposal before contacting Costa Mesa officials.

“They didn’t come to us,” Righeimer said. “I found out about it in a PR release on a Friday night. (Supervisor) Michelle Steel didn’t even know about it, and it’s in her district.”

Nelson said the county is not hoarding its funding for the homeless. He said the county has devoted $193 million to projects supporting the homeless.

“There was no chipmunking,” Nelson said.

It’s true that county officials did not immediately make use of the funding as it came in.

“Too conservative? Maybe, fair enough,” Nelson said. “But we’re certainly spending that built-up reserve and spending more than we’re taking in now.”

In related news, Spitzer and Irvine Mayor Don Wagner announced Wednesday afternoon that they are pursuing “fast-track opportunities for veterans and women’s permanent housing at the county-owned West Alton parcel” at Irvine Boulevard and Alton Parkway.

County officials have plans to develop the property for residences for seniors and multiple-family housing. Wagner and Spitzer want to tweak the plan to include permanent housing for veterans and abused women.

Wagner and Spitzer intend to tell Carter about the plan at the next court hearing Tuesday, where he will discuss his plans to move transients out of the Santa Ana civic center.

CALmatters‏ @CALmattersFollowFollow @CALmatters

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Republican state @SenatorMoorlach suggests @JerryBrownGov has a “gigantic blind spot” when it comes to curbing carbon emissions https://bit.ly/2Ge6Tvw

11:44 AM – 29 Mar 2018

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Budget and Legacy Priorities — January 11, 2018

Governor Brown released his 2018-19 Budget yesterday morning and the OC Register was kind enough to publish my first impressions in their commentary section. It is the first piece below.

I also sent out an immediate reaction:

Governor Brown admits that the “last 5 budgets have significantly increased spending” and this budget proposal is no different. Coming in at just under $300 billion dollars of total spending, debt and poverty remain at all-time highs. Even worse, our balance sheet is massively short and unfunded liabilities are in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Our underfunded pension systems will get minimum payments of $6.2 billion to CalPERS and $3.1 billion for CalSTRS. These costs are directly related to policies Jerry Brown embraced 40 years ago during his first time as governor. While he’s sensitive to a possible economic slowdown and should be lauded for increasing our rainy day funds, he has been a spendthrift in Sacramento. We have to acknowledge that the $9.3 billion in pension payments won’t go to pay for more teachers or cut college tuition or build roads right now. And yet, we’re hoisting these liabilities on future generations at a higher cost unless we do more to address them now. I was wondering how seriously Governor Brown would be in his last budget about addressing our liabilities. It looks like he’s kicking the can down the road to the next governor. Oh well.

The primary focus for Governor Brown has not been that California has the worst balance sheet of all 50 states. Just look at the city of Oakland’s balance sheet, and you’ll see that being deep in a fiscal hole is not one of Jerry’s worries.

Brown’s focus has been climate change and converting California to an electric car state, relying on solar and wind to provide the energy. It’s covered in a lengthy and thorough manner by CALmatters and is second piece below.

The irony is that electricity needs to be carried by power lines. These power lines have caused many of the wildfires in California. And, wildfires create more greenhouse gases than our state’s cars, by a long shot. So, where is the effort to address the cause of the biggest greenhouse gas source? It’s nonexistent (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Fire Safety Concerns — October 27, 2017).

Worse, being totally dependent on electricity for travel, communication, preserving food supplies, and dealing with occasional inclement weather, this state will shut down in a matter of days without it. This is also a scary proposition in a world where terrorism is the new norm. I’m just sayin’.

There’s the legacy. He’s funded the required Rainy Day Fund. He’s exposing residents to a different danger in the potential loss of power. And he’s flown around the world to preach climate change. But, our balance sheet sucks and our wildfire zones went up in smoke this year and are now suffering from the damages that rain can cause. Sometimes I just want to weep.

OPINION

The good and bad of Jerry Brown’s budget

By JOHN MOORLACH

https://www.ocregister.com/2018/01/10/the-good-and-bad-of-jerry-browns-budget/

Back when Gov. Jerry Brown submitted his first budget proposal in January 1975, I was working toward my accounting degree at Cal State Long Beach. As he submitted his 16th and final budget proposal Wednesday, for fiscal year 2018-19, I was thinking what a long, strange trip it’s been for both of us.

Although the governor is a lawyer and I’m a CPA, we both are “numbers guys” who like to get into the nitty gritty in the back pages and dig into the weeds.

Looking at his proposed budget details, here are four good and four bad things:

Good: The budget acknowledges that, despite some pension reforms, “California’s unfunded liabilities continue to rise” because “poor investment returns and the adoption of more realistic assumptions related to future investment earnings and demographics have grown the state’s retiree long-term costs, debts and liabilities to $272 billion.” Unlike other numbers, the governor commendably also mentions the $76.7 billion in retiree medical liabilities.

Bad: The budget includes spending of $6.2 billion for contributions to CalPERS and $3.1 billion for CalSTRS; these contribution amounts were minuscule 20 years ago before pension spiking. That’s $9.3 billion that could have gone to pay for more teachers, cut college tuition, build roads — or be refunded to taxpayers. Even worse: Brown kicks any real pension solutions into the future when he’ll be gone.

Good: In his press conference, the governor again warned the current prosperity will not last forever and “it’s important to prepare” for the next recession. With an appropriate supplemental payment of $3.5 billion, the budget fills the “Rainy Day Fund” all the way to the constitutional Proposition 2 requirement of $13.5 billion which voters passed in 2014.

Bad: As the governor noted, a recession likely would mean $20 billion in yearly deficits. In three years, that would equal $60 billion. That could mean $46.5 billion in cuts. What’s needed is for the Legislature, on its own, to start saving more toward that higher amount.

Good: The budget’s general fund spending would only rise by 4.1 percent, to $131.7 billion.

Bad: Over the last eight years, spending increases total 52.4 percent since Brown’s budget of just $86.4 billion for 2011-12. That’s way above the original spirit of the Gann Limit of 1979, which the governor supported, capping spending at the increase in population plus inflation.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, California’s population has grown 5 percent the last eight years; while the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ online calculator figures the Consumer Price Index rose 12 percent. Total: 17 percent. That indicates Brown’s own spending increases couldn’t be sustained in a recession.

Good: No tuition increases for Cal State and UC students, making tuition, adjusted for inflation, below 2011 levels.

Bad: Unfortunately, this does not address the administrative bloat detailed in an April 2017 audit by State Auditor Elaine M. Howle, CPA. Cutting administrative waste would enable lower tuition and higher faculty pay.

Good: Funding for K-12 schools will have grown to $78.2 billion, up from $47.3 billion in 2011-12. That’s a 65 percent increase in seven years. The governor’s Local Funding Formula, which shifts money to support English learners, and students in foster care, and low-income families, is now fully funded.

Bad: Student test scores continue to languish among the bottom of the states, as the teachers’ unions thwart needed reforms, such as performance pay for teachers.

Finally, Brown’s budget numbers were calculated before the federal tax bill passed last month. It concedes some parts of the bill could “temporarily” benefit the economy, yet warns, “millions of Californians will be hurt” because of limits on deducting state and local taxes on federal tax returns. Consequently, this matter will be addressed further in the May Revision.

What’s missing? A priority on reducing California’s $168.5 billion unrestricted net deficit. The state may have a balanced budget, but its balance sheet is the worst in the nation.

Our next governor will have plenty to do. Let’s hope the “Trump Bump” continues for a few more years, as Brown’s predicted future recession will not be pleasant.

Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, represents the 37th District in the California Senate.

California’s climate fight gets harder soon, and the big culprit is cars

By Julie Cart

https://calmatters.org/articles/californias-climate-fight-gets-harder-soon-big-culprit-cars/

By most measures, California has earned the right to brag about how much it has cleaned up its environmental act. The air in much of smog-shrouded Southern California has been scrubbed. A passenger car for sale here today is 99 percent cleaner than one on offer in the early 1970s. The fossil fuels required to power the state’s economic engine have decreased by a third since their peak in 2001, while economic activity has expanded in that time by an equal measure.

In addition, California’s response to climate change is a one-of-a-kind hybrid, knitting together market-based programs such as the cap-and-trade system for reducing carbon dioxide and other harmful emissions; strict regulations to promote energy efficiency in buildings; and generous financial incentives for “green” projects, drawn from more than $6 billion in carbon-trading proceeds.

It’s working. California is poised to meet its goal to reduce greenhouse gases 33 percent from 1990 levels by the year 2020. Its targets for use of more renewable energy by that date are, in some cases, already exceeded.

So take a bow, California; you’ve done the easy stuff. But hold on tight for what comes next. The state’s overarching plan was intended to ease industry and consumers into a carbon-free future bit by bit; ten years in, the training wheels are off.

Emissions-reduction must hit 40 percent by 2030 and twice that by 2050. In 12 years, half the state’s energy must come from renewable sources such as wind and sun. California’s 14 million buildings must operate twice as efficiently, and the number of electric cars on the road will have to multiply more than 10 times. Failure would likely mean more extreme measures in later years and, many experts say, could affect public health.

The scope of the state’s approach is all-encompassing. By law or executive order, every state agency must consider climate change when making any planning decision. Developers must take into account how far motorists travel to reach a destination, forests will be managed so that trees store more carbon dioxide and highway builders have to calculate the possibility that rising seas might inundate the roads.

The near term looks good. But for the 2030 goals and beyond, normally upbeat officials are guarded.

“Getting a 40 percent reduction [by] 2030 is no small thing. There will be lots of challenges,” said Ken Alex, director of the state Office of Planning and Research, who sees the entire field when it comes to emissions reductions. “Sometimes I’m optimistic, sometimes I’m pessimistic. I’m pessimistic about the political will it takes to get there.”

The most difficult work begins with California’s single most polluting sector: transportation, which accounts for nearly half the state’s greenhouse-gas emissions.

Mary Nichols, who chairs the California Air Resources Board, acknowledged that squeezing emissions from transportation will be the most difficult lift of all the 2030 standards, saying the gains require no less than a “deep transformation.”

That will include cutting gasoline use in half, reducing the miles that car-centric Californians drive, dramatically ramping up the adoption of electric vehicles and building a network of readily available charging stations.

“There’s no question that transportation is a critical piece, maybe the critical piece, in solving our energy problems,” said Sean Hecht, co-executive director of UCLA’s Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

One reason it’s difficult is that transportation emissions are produced largely outside the clutches of state regulation: think airplanes, trains, and ships. Another is sluggish technological change for heavy-duty and medium-duty trucks, buses and shuttles, although adoption of all-electric municipal buses is growing as costs come down.

Cities and regions are charting their own paths, going green to save green: The Los Angeles-area Metropolitan Transportation Agency has a goal of operating an emissions-free bus fleet by 2030.

Although California has decreed that auto manufacturers sell a percentage of zero-emission vehicles, there is no mandate that drivers purchase the pricey cars. Regulators and legislators have been reluctant to force consumers to buy them, as they have with TVs, heavy appliances and other products.

That would change with legislation proposed by Assemblyman Phil Ting, a Democrat from San Francisco. Ting’s bill would ban the sale of gasoline-powered cars in California by 2040, mirroring bans proposed by some European countries. The idea went nowhere when Ting proposed it last year, and its prospects now are unclear.

While gas-sipping hybrids such as the Prius are nearly ubiquitous and certainly helpful, only true zero-emission vehicles can bring about the scale of change the state’s goals require, experts say.

“There’s no way to get there without significant reduction in passenger-vehicle emissions,” said Ting, who drives an electric car. He said that more access to charging stations would be transformational.

“People talk about the lack of infrastructure, yet there’s electricity everywhere they park their car, unless they are in the forest,” he said. “People park their car much nearer to electricity than they do to gasoline. In transportation they talk about “the last mile.” Here we have “the last foot” issue. We just need the extension cord for the last foot.”

Much of that work falls to the California Energy Commission, which has tied together charging stations that trace a north-south, mainly coastal path. The easier task of attracting electric car buyers in Southern California and the Bay Area has been accomplished. The challenge now is engaging inland drivers, in places such as Bakersfield, Fresno and Redding.

John Kato, deputy director of the commission’s Fuels and Transportation Division, agreed that the new benchmarks are “challenging, but we believe the private sector will take up the baton,” with automakers producing a wider variety of vehicles, across a broad price range, appealing to more buyers.

An unexpected private-sector benefit comes from Volkswagen, which settled an emissions-cheating case by agreeing to spend more than $800 million building charging stations (from which the company will also profit) throughout the state.

National trends are cause for optimism, said Paul Cort, an attorney with the environmental group Earthjustice. “There is an acceleration in acceptance and uptake among car buyers,” he said. “It took us 10 years to get to the first million electric vehicles; the second million was achieved in two years; the third million will be on the road in one year.”

One success story has been the state utilities’ swift integration of renewable energy into the state electric grid, partly because of a dramatic decline in the cost of solar energy. Emissions from power generated in the state fell by more than 19 percent last year, partly due to the ramping up of hydroelectric power with last year’s heavy rains. The Public Utilities Commission that regulates energy companies reports that they have met or will soon meet the 2020 targets.

State Sen. Kevin de León, a Democrat from Los Angeles who is currently running to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, recently set an even higher bar, proposing 100 percent renewable energy throughout the state by 2045.

It will be more difficult to find further savings from existing energy-efficiency programs, long a bulwark of California’s carbon-reduction efforts. The state is phasing out incandescent light bulbs and the building codes for new construction continue to mandate efficiency. But still to be tackled is the thorny problem of retrofitting millions of old and outdated homes and businesses.

At least one analysis calculates that natural gas used in hot water heaters and to warm residential and commercial buildings is causing nearly the same emissions as the state’s power plants. Converting gas-fired buildings to fully electric is daunting, and hugely expensive.

With so many reductions required, the Air Resource Board’s post-2020 strategy is one element—a critical one—of the state’s multiagency approach to climate change. That strategy elevates the cap-and-trade system, in which companies can pay to pollute by buying credits, to a much more significant role. Cap and trade limits emissions on 80 percent of California’s polluters.

The agency has never precisely quantified cap and trade’s contribution to greenhouse-gas reduction. Officials projected it at 17-20 percent in a planning document in 2008—a year before the program launched—but are unable to say if those assumptions have been borne out. The board has not conducted the complicated analysis required to determine the program’s actual role in cutting emissions.

Nonetheless, last month it adopted a plan to reach post-2020 objectives that ups the ante: It forecasts that cap and trade, which lawmakers recently extended to 2030, will be responsible for nearly 40 percent of California’s emissions reductions by that time, a figure disputed by some as unrealistic.

Some critics of the program say another factor could cause the state to miss its 2030 emissions targets: the banking system that allows individual companies to hold tens of millions of carbon credits in reserve.

According to separate analyses by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office and independent economists, refineries, cement plants and other major polluters could produce emissions in the next decade that are well above the state’s ever-tightening limits and use their banked credits, purchased cheaply, to offset their excess.

Chris Busch, an economist and research director at the think tank Energy Innovation, said his analysis showed that because of the oversupply or allowances the “effectiveness of the program could be compromised.”

Ross Brown, who analyzes cap and trade for the LAO, said in an interview that there’s a “decent to good chance” that banked credits could vault emissions to more than 30 percent over legal limits in 2030.

The issue has the attention of the state Legislature, which has directed the air board to investigate. So far, the agency has shrugged off the concerns.

Rajinder Sahota, who oversees the cap-and-trade program for the air board, said that although the analyses may be correct in that emissions may exceed the cap in any given year, the agency is confident that the cumulative emissions between 2021 to 2030 will fall and California will meet its goals.

“We expect to see fluctuations over time,” she said. “There are a number of factors that account for emissions in any given year—the economy, business decisions. In a perfect world, you’d like to see a decline over time. But it doesn’t always work that way.”

Sahota said the analyses of banked credits are a “paper exercise.”

“Most of the allowances in the program are still in the ARB’s account,” she said. The LAO’s calculations would require a company to spend hundreds of millions of dollars for credits now on a bet that the price will rise as emissions limits get stricter, she said.

“The data show that is not happening,” Sahota said.

Nevertheless, she and air board chairwoman Nichols said the plan is open to revisions.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s personal investment in California’s climate change policies has been a force multiplier, spurring the myriad state agencies to adopt, and state industries to adapt, to the prospect of a carbon-less future. But Brown is in his final year in office, and the Legislature’s to-do list is crowded with other enormous issues, such as poverty and housing.

Whether lawmakers will continue to invest in programs that, to some, don’t seem to immediately improve the lives of Californians, is an open question.

One critic is state Sen. John Moorlach, a Republican from Costa Mesa who is also an accountant.

“I come from a world where you measure things so you can manage it,” the senator said. “It’s a matter of priorities. Sacramento is pumping itself on the chest, thinking it is going save the world. I’m not convinced this is the right use of our resources.”

Such doubts could present hurdles as the global-warming clock winds down.

“We are running out of time. That’s clear,” said Ken Alex. “To me, it’s about political will and scale. We feel confident that it’s doable. But do we have the political will to get there?”

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Happy New Year! — December 29, 2017

I hope you are having a wonderful Christmas season. Please accept my best wishes for a Happy New Year!

I spent the windy morning on the winter solstice at my old stomping grounds of some twenty years, the Orange County Civic Center, for a Homeless Memorial Service (see MOORLACH UPDATE — 2017 OC Homeless Deaths — December 20, 2017). The OC Register provided some photos on their website and a couple are provided below.

This is followed by a tweet that was sent by Jonathan J. Cooper, of the Associated Press, this summer that made it to a treatise on this communication vehicle in a CalMatters piece titled “The year In California politics, as told through Twitter,” by Matt Levin (see https://calmatters.org/articles/year-california-politics-told-twitter/).

For a refresher on this fun little moment, including a link to a video clip, see MOORLACH UPDATE — Bureau of Cannibals Control — June 14, 2017.

For the holidays, I treated myself to a few more books, where I was mentioned, for my collection (also see MOORLACH UPDATE — Copyright 2017 — January 3, 2017). So, if you have a relative who is a student taking finance or journalism courses, here are a few references they can use in a term paper.

The books are Great Financial Disasters of our Time by Alan N. Peachey, Cases in Public Policy and Administration by Jay M. Shafritz and Christopher P. Borick, and Public Budgeting: Policy, Process, and Politics edited by Irene S. Rubin, respectively. My thanks to Jay Shafritz and Christopher Borick for providing a narrative that made my Christmas!

Wishing you a very Happy New Year!

On a chilly, wind-swept morning, about 50 people gather on the plaza outside the county Hall of Administration in the Santa Ana Civic Center to mark National Homeless Persons Memorial Day on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

State Sen. John Moorlach addresses those gathered in the Santa Ana Civic Center in honor of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017. Moorlach recalled looking out his office window as a county supervisor and seeing the homeless people being fed by volunteer and church groups. Moorlach, 2nd District county supervisor from December 2009 to January 2015, was an early proponent of turning a defunct bus depot at the Civic Center into what became The Courtyard homeless shelter last year. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

View image on Twitter



Jonathan J. Cooper
✔@jjcooper

.@SenatorMoorlach catches this epic typo in Senate budget committee staff report

2:38 PM – Jun 13, 2017

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Great Financial Disasters of

our Time

Alan N. Peachey

Intersentia

2006 and 2011

Even a book out of Germany covers the Orange County bankruptcy. The table of contents does not include chapter numbers, but addresses topics in alphabetical order. Orange County falls under “Derivatives – General” for the Chapter 9 history. It also falls under “Subprime Crisis and the Credit Crunch” in the 2011 version for my immediate successor’s holdings of $837 million in structured investment vehicles (SIVs) (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Voice of OC — December 20, 2012).

Here is the opening paragraph on the portion covering the bankruptcy filing:

Orange County, California, stunned the markets by announcing that its investment pool had suffered a loss of USD 1.6 billion (GBP 1.03 billion), the largest loss ever recorded by a local government authority, leading to the bankruptcy of the county shortly afterwards. The loss was the result of unsupervised investment activity by Bob Citron, the County Treasurer, who managed a pooled portfolio of USD 7.5 billion belonging to county schools, cities, the county itself, etc. Citron had been able to increase returns on the pool by investing in derivatives and by leveraging the portfolio up to the hilt. Some local school districts and cities even issued short-term taxable notes to invest in the pool despite repeated public warnings, mainly by John Moorlach who ran unsuccessfully for the post of County Treasurer in 1994, that the pool was too risky. Unfortunately, he was ignored.

Cases in Public Policy and Administration

Jay M. Shafritz and
Christopher P. Borick

Routledge (First Published by Pearson Education, Inc.)

2011

Chapter 10 is titled “The Red Ink of Orange County: When Is It Ethical for Public Treasurers to Gamble with Public Money? Only When You Win!” It’s only seven pages long.

The three subtitles are “Preview,” “The Orange County Default,” and “Guilty of Six Felony Counts.” The treatment of me by the authors is very kind and I’ll try to use this as a quote in future campaign mailers (smile). I am mentioned at the conclusion of the second section and the two paragraphs are a concise review of the chapter:

Ironically, in that year his last opponent in his last election for Orange County treasurer was John M. Moorlach, who made a campaign issue of the risks that Citron was taking with the public’s money. After the financial debacle, Citron was forced to resign in disgrace, and his foresightful opponent was appointed to fill the vacant office and clean up the fiscal mess. Moorlach, as the “boy who cried wolf,” finally came to the rescue when the wolf was at the door. He would later be twice elected as treasurer and serve a total of twelve years, leaving the county in far better fiscal shape than it had been in when he arrived in office. He also became one of the nation’s leading experts on municipal bankruptcy–not that he ever wanted to be.

Citron lost more than one-and-a-half billion dollars (yes, billion!) of public money. This was initially hard to believe by the citizens of a county that was so rich. The average household income in Orange County in 1994 was $57,302, compared to a national average of $38,453. The problem was that the swaggering, free-wheeling aggressive business culture of the county–aptly symbolized by the larger-than-life statue of John Wayne in full cowboy regalia that greets visitors to the county’s John Wayne Airport–had infected its public finances.

Public Budgeting: Policy, Process, and Politics

Edited by Irene S. Rubin

M. E. Sharpe

2008

The 33rd of 35 essays in this American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) collection is titled “Accountability and Entrepreneurial Public Management: The Case of the Orange County Investment Fund” by Kevin P. Kearns. It was originally published in Public Budgeting and Finance, Vol. 15, No. 3, Autumn 1995, pages 3-21.

You can see glimpses at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1540-5850.01043/abstract and https://books.google.com/books?id=6ya3DAAAQBAJ&pg=PT163&lpg=PT163&dq=Accountability+and+Entrepreneurial+Public+Management:++The+Case+of+the+Orange+County+Investment+Fund&source=bl&ots=_HC6gOcEBU&sig=bDO8d2yHzK0Hb2b6VpIewfbQr5o&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwitvsmOnfvXAhVDLSYKHajyA5sQ6AEIOTAC#v=onepage&q=Accountability%20and%20Entrepreneurial%20Public%20Management%3A%20%20The%20Case%20of%20the%20Orange%20County%20Investment%20Fund&f=false).

It covers four strategies for analyzing accountability:
1. Compliance Accountability
2. Negotiated Accountability
3. Discretionary (Entrepreneurial) Accountability
4. Anticipatory (Anticipated) Accountability

I am mentioned in the third category, which is edited down by me to highlight the major points of the author (who was not in Orange County at the time or following, and has a few facts out of skew or exaggerated to make his points).

In the absence of meaningful threats or sanctions from the external environment, public officials must take personal and professional responsibility for anticipating and interpreting emerging standards of acceptable professional behavior and organizational performance, weighing long-term risks as well as short-term benefits.

Robert Citron was reelected to the treasurer’s office in June 1994, only six months before the financial crisis. His opponent in the race was John Moorlach, a certified public accountant who based his campaign on Citron’s risky investments and the vulnerability of the Orange County investment fund to fluctuating interest rates. Moorlach captured barely one-third of the vote and failed to generate any meaningful or lasting public dialogue on the Orange County investment strategy. Evidently, the voters were either: 1) unconcerned about Citron’s management of the investment pool; 2) incapable of making informed judgements [sic] because of the complexity of the issues; or 3) distracted by another political issue, Proposition 187 (limiting the rights of illegal immigrants), which had more emotional appeal than did the intellectually challenging notions of reverse repurchase agreements, derivatives, and fluctuating interest rates. Even after the bankruptcy, citizen reactions seemed mixed. A local radio station sponsored “an hour of rage” after the financial crisis, allowing callers to vent their anger. The station received very few angry calls.

While most of us readily embrace the democratic notions of citizen participation and consultation, it is highly unlikely that “typical” citizens would be able to engage in informed and reasoned discourse on this issue. Still, this cell raises important strategic issues for public managers. What opportunities (if any) exist for citizen input on a given entrepreneurial venture? Can such opportunities be created or enhanced? In the absence of citizen input, is the organization prepared to defend its actions in terms of the public interest and in both long-term and short-term perspectives? To what extent are the organizational cultures and professional norms of public agencies compatible with this entrepreneurial paradigm? Are public administrators and elected officials professionally competent to play the entrepreneurial game?

This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District. If you no longer wish to subscribe, just let me know by responding with a request to do so.

Also follow me on Facebook & Twitter @SenatorMoorlach.