MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Other District Races — October 16, 2018

This Voter Guide, the first piece below, is for:

1) The Community College Districts, in their ranking order for the 72 districts in California by Unrestricted Net Position (also see MOORLACH UPDATE — UC, CCC and CSU — May 11, 2018);

2) The water, sanitary, and community services districts; and

3) The city clerk races.

Republicans are provided. Incumbents are noted and listed. If they are Democrats, there is an asterisk (*). Candidates with two asterisks (**) are Declined to State. Candidates in bold are endorsed. Those in italics are good second choices.

Capistrano Bay Community Services District does not have a website, so write in a teenager in order to get this municipality up to speed.

KQED provided a half-hour forum this morning on Proposition 1 and is the second piece below (see MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — 2018 Ballot Measures — September 21, 2018). To hear the discussion, go to https://www.kqed.org/forum/2010101867764/election-2018-proposition-2-would-use-revenue-from-millionaires-tax-to-fund-homeless-housing and click on “Listen.”

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FORUM

Proposition 1 Would Authorize $4 Billion in Bonds for Affordable Housing

https://www.kqed.org/forum/2010101867768/proposition-1-would-authorize-4-billion-in-bonds-for-affordable-housing

This November, California voters will decide whether to authorize a $4 billion infusion to existing affordable housing programs for veterans and low-income residents. Supporters of Proposition 1 say it will help address the state’s housing crisis. Opponents of the measure say it does nothing to cut the regulatory red tape that slows building in California and that the state can’t afford to take on more debt. Forum takes up the debate and examines the possible effects of Proposition 1.

Guests:

John Moorlach, California state senator, representing the 37th district

Guy Marzorati, reporter, KQED’s California Politics and Government Desk

Linda Mandoloini, president, Eden Housing

MOORLACH UPDATE — Secretive and Expensive Union Deals — November 3, 2017

With the super-majority party in control, the public employee unions have felt more empowered to sponsor legislation that gives them more power over management. Their emboldedness was so bad during this year’s Session, I started asking “who’s your Daddy?” with a number of these over-reaching bills (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Who’s Your Daddy? — July 1, 2017 , MOORLACH UPDATE — Bonuses and Bogusness — October 21, 2017 , MOORLACH UPDATE — Devastating Legacy — October 11, 2017 and MOORLACH UPDATE — Who Do You Answer To? — October 1, 2017).

I believe that bargaining unit negotiations should be public. Then you would see the nonsensical proposals that are offered to elected officials behind closed doors. Two thoughts. While a County Supervisor I championed the adoption of COIN (Civic Openness in Negotiations) (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Minting New COIN — June 25, 2014 ). And this year I proposed SB 371, which made it a conflict of interest to negotiate for wage increases and benefit improvements if the negotiator was benefiting directly or indirectly from the adoption of the bargaining unit agreement (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Pursuing Reforms — August 11, 2017). The statewide public employee unions came in full force and squashed both of these efforts. They are the “Daddy” and want full control. Which is probably why California is as fiscally screwed up as it is.

But, the Capitol is not immune to union bullying. Keep an eye on the city of Santa Paula. Let’s see how long it takes before they have to raise its sales tax, again! Or, when they will be hiring a Chapter 9 bankruptcy attorney. Of course, holding the current city council accountable then is a joke. They’ll probably be long gone or serving in Sacramento, thanks to the unions funding their campaigns. It’s that sick. And the Ventura County Star seems to be getting it in the first piece below.

The Governor’s veto of SB 1463 continues to garner media attention. KQED covers the specifics of the bill in greater detail in the second piece below. The feet-dragging and excuses drive me batty, as the death toll is now up to 43 in Sonoma and Napa Counties (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Fire Safety Concerns — October 27, 2017).

Ironically, Governor Brown is travelling outside of the country to continue his efforts to reduce greenhouse gases around the world. Regretfully, two-and-one-half days of California wild fires produce the same amount of greenhouse gases as all of the cars in California combined do in an entire year (see https://www.livescience.com/1981-wildfires-release-cars.html). Can you say “hypocrisy?”

You’ve got to love the massive disconnect! Did you know that greenhouse gas reduction goals do not apply to wild fires? They should, especially since they happen in California and much of the strategy of the AB 32 Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 is predicated on reducing these threats.

Rather than raising money for silly trains and political projects that will do zero to mitigate global warming, shouldn’t the Governor focus on preventing devastating fires in the future? One gets the impression that globetrotting on vacuous platitudes is more fun and fulfilling for our current state leaders. How does one lecture the world when you’re failing at home? Talk about an emperor that wears no clothes!

Behind closed doors, cities and unions strike potentially expensive deals

amartinez

http://www.vcstar.com/story/news/local/communities/santa-paula/2017/11/03/behind-closed-doors-cities-and-unions-strike-potentially-expensive-deals/819497001/

Minutes before Santa Paula’s elected officials approved six new contracts awarding nearly every city employee a substantial pay hike, the public first learned of the long-term costs.

“By year three, the cost of the raises is $2.2 million,” Mayor Jenny Crosswhite said at the City Council meeting Oct. 16. “That was not in the staff report.”

What was in the staff report — released four days earlier — was what each contract would cost for the roughly last eight months of the 2017-18 fiscal year. Those costs ranged from $6,291 to $224,455.

Until Crosswhite put a price tag on it, taxpayers could only guess what the three-year agreements would ultimately cost them.

Each city in California handles contract negotiations slightly differently, but most have one thing in common: The negotiations are done largely behind closed doors. Often, elected officials helping to craft the contracts are at the negotiating table with the same unions that spent time and money helping seat them.

The door to those negotiations just got shut a little tighter with a new law that adds another public records exemption to contract negotiations between local public agencies and their employees.

LITTLE PUBLIC SCRUTINY

State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, voted against Assembly Bill 1455, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law in October.

“I’m a person who believes that the whole process should be public,” said Moorlach, who while on the Orange County Board of Supervisors helped develop one of the most transparent negotiating ordinances in the state. “I thought AB 1455 was sort of the Las Vegas thing. What happens in closed session stays in closed session. I believe the public has the right to know what’s really going on and what’s really being asked and what’s really being pressured.”

The way the process is set up now is the “biggest conflict of interest in government,” he said.

Assembly member Raul Bocanegra, D-San Fernando Valley, through his spokesperson declined to comment on why he introduced the bill and what problems it sought to fix.

Assembly member Jacqui Irwin, D- Thousand Oaks, said the bill wasn’t controversial and it extended to local agencies the same set of laws that have governed state agencies for years. Disclosing strategies and other information related to employee contracts would have hurt the process, said Irwin, who served on the Thousand Oaks City Council for 10 years.

“We knew budget-wise what our bottom line was. To be giving that sort of negotiating information out to the public, to me it’s detrimental to the taxpayers,” Irwin said.

Irwin said regardless of who contributed to a campaign, the council has a responsibility to balance fair treatment of employees with what the city can afford.

“If I would vote for an increase in employee benefits and the city doesn’t end up with a balanced budget I’m probably not going to get re-elected,” she said.

The bill had the support of 18 unions/labor groups and one opposed, the city of West Covina.

Without the legislation, proposals and strategies were “vulnerable to mandated disclosure under current law, thus threatening the ability of local unions and public agencies to engage in candid and fully-informed collective bargaining, with potential disruptive effects,” the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees wrote.

The union referred calls to AFSCME District 36, which includes Los Angeles and Orange counties. Spokesperson Erica Zeitlin said budget hearings were done out in the open. “Everybody gets to have a say,” she said.

That doesn’t include contract negotiations, and Zeitlin didn’t return questions seeking further comment on why the organization supported the bill or what the legislation sought to remedy.

West Covina City Manager Chris Freeland said the city opposed the bill because residents have been asking for more transparency in labor negotiations and the city has been trying to provide that. It’s been helpful to let the public know how it is trying to address pension reform and other concerns, he said.

“The city will continue to try and find ways to share the information with the public while meeting the requirements of the law,” Freeland said.

OPENING UP THE PROCESS

In 2013, Simi Valley adopted a policy aimed at allowing more public input on contract negotiations.

“It was to create more transparency in the labor negotiations but to stay consistent with the law,” City Manager Eric Levitt said.

A contract is introduced at one council meeting but not approved until the next time the council meets.

Cities and agencies use a variety of ways to let the public know what is in proposed contracts, according to the staff report prepared for Simi Valley in 2013.

The Menlo Park Fire Protection District stipulates that contracts be publicized and made available at least 15 days before adoption. Fresno policy gives the public 10 days to study the terms, which should be “costed out over time.” Palo Alto states the city should have the ability to fund any compensation agreements in the short- and long-term.

According to the analysis of AB 1455, a request by an Orange County blogger exposed a shortcoming in current public records analysis. In that case, Jon Fleischman requested contract negotiations between the county and the Orange County sheriff’s deputies. After the union representing the deputies was unsuccessful in blocking it, the county released information.

That case exposed a gap in protection for local agencies. Bocanegra’s bill closed it.

Attorney Craig Alexander, who represented Fleischman in the case, said two wrongs don’t make a right. “What’s the public policy here? Is it to keep average citizens and taxpayers who have to pay for these items in the dark?”

The trouble with the standard 72-hour notice is the public has very little time to digest the information and contact their elected officials with questions, Alexander said.

A LAST-MINUTE REVEAL IN SANTA PAULA

On the night Santa Paula approved the new contracts, City Manager Michael Rock noted the expensive proposition before the council. The contracts included pay raises but also increased tuition reimbursement, bilingual pay and the number of vacation hours the city would “buy back,” among other benefits.

“There is an overall cost to the city that is significant, and there is also significant revenue that has been generated through Measure T and other sources as well,” he said.

Measure T is a one-cent sales tax approved in November 2016 that is expected to raise $2.1 million annually. Rock said the money will also come from sources including the general fund and the newly passed gas tax, which was approved by the state Legislature to provide more money for road and bridge improvements.

Rock said that even with the raises city pay lagged that in other cities.

The two speakers on the item were from the Ventura County Taxpayers Association. One warned of the problems with using short-term money for long-term obligations, while the other questioned the lack of public input.

“When we have negotiations that are largely behind closed doors and the final approval is through a consent agenda item, and only because I believe the paper reported on it the other day are we discussing how much this is going to cost in future years, that’s not transparency,” said the association’s David Grau.

The council voted 4-1 to approve the contracts, with Crosswhite opposed.

Lawmaker: Why Is It Taking Years to Map Fire Hazards From Utilities?

By Lisa Pickoff-White and Marisa Lagos

https://ww2.kqed.org/news/2017/11/03/lawmaker-why-is-it-taking-years-to-map-fire-hazards-from-utilities/

The risk from wildfires in California means everyone living here should be prepared for one. Some more than others.

That obviously depends on where you live. But who’s in charge of telling us how risky any one place is?

Cal Fire and the California Public Utilities Commission have been working for years to make maps of the highest-risk areas in California. Those maps, once finished, could be used to hold utility companies such as Pacific Gas and Electric Company to higher fire-safety standards.

After last month’s deadly Northern California wildfires, some state lawmakers are saying the process of making the maps is moving too slowly, putting people’s lives at risk.

State Senator John M. Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, sent a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown this week asking him for details about what exactly the agencies have been doing.

“This mapping exercise has been going on for a decade, while over the last few years, dozens of lives and hundreds of thousands of acres have been lost in wildfires resulting from fires started by utility wires,” Moorlach wrote in the letter.

The effort to create this set of maps started about a decade ago after deadly wildfires burned through Southern California.

State investigators found some of those fires were ignited by overhead power lines and, to a lesser degree, by telecommunications equipment. After that, the CPUC adopted dozens of new regulations, some of which rely on maps to designate especially hazardous areas.

The CPUC decided in 2012 to create new maps specifically to highlight areas at higher risk from power lines and other utility equipment. A team of experts, including Cal Fire specialists, is working on the maps. One risk those maps aim to highlight is places with high wind speeds, which appear to be a factor in the rapid spread of the fires last month. Another is the types of vegetation in an area.

The CPUC published an early version of the maps last summer, and the commission expects that the final maps will be released this winter. If the final maps determine that power lines or other equipment are in hazardous areas, utilities could be held to higher safety standards.

Moorlach says the whole process is taking too long.

“We’ve got bureaucrats that are doing this and they’re dragging their feet, and you’ve got utilities that know what the outcome is going to be and and they’re going to delay it as much as they can,” he told KQED.

Last year, the governor vetoed SB 1463, a bill Moorlach sponsored that would have required the CPUC and Cal Fire to prioritize the maps and to work more closely with local governments and fire departments to create the maps.

Brown wrote in his veto message that the agencies were already addressing Moorlach’s concerns, saying, “This deliberative process should continue and the issues this bill seeks to address should be raised in that forum.”

CPUC spokeswoman Terrie Prosper said Moorlach’s bill would have actually slowed down the work.

“SB 1463 would have prolonged the safety work already going on by requiring the participation of certain entities, which was unnecessary because Cal Fire was already a party to the proceeding, and local governments and fire departments could also participate,” she wrote in an email to KQED.

Cal Fire already has hazard maps and, based on those maps, people who live in high-risk zones face tougher construction standards. Those maps were spurred by previous legislation. Fire building codes only apply to “very high” hazard areas within city boundaries. However, in areas where Cal Fire has jurisdiction, anything in “moderate” and “high” risk areas must meet their standards.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Good Luck With That — September 17, 2017

Sacramento just doesn’t get it. A housing crisis is not solved with new fees, bonds, and local government process overrides.

Let’s talk about housing. KQED provides some of the gory details in the piece below. But, allow me to elaborate. A quick tip, KQED provides the last act first.

For Senate Bill 3 (and 5), I provided the following abbreviated concerns on the Senate Floor:

1. Let’s review the housing market over the last eleven years. In Orange County, the median price for a home in 1996 was $221,800. Ten years later, after the subprime mortgage boom (for fun, watch “The Big Short”), the median rose to $739,000. With the Great Recession, the median went down to $498,200 in 2011. And, as of June 2017, it is back to $734,200.

2. Why the recent resurgence?
A. A slow, but steady rise in job growth.
B. Foreign investors. They came in at the market low as a safe haven.
C. Explaining an increase of all-cash transactions; more than 50% in 2013.
D. This has caused a decrease in home ownership and more renters.
E. Difficulty for developers to obtain entitlements and to build.
F. The other usual suspects, like NIMBYism, CEQA and open space demands.
G. For those lucky enough, try working with the California Coastal Commission.

It makes you wonder, what has Sacramento done to address foreign buyers and entitlement restrictions? And, I can see now why SB 714 (Newman) was removed from the calendar this last week, as it doubles down on taking entitled property for building new homes in the city of Brea and requiring total open space. Boy, this bill was so out of touch, the Democrats had to save the author from himself. But, I digress.

3. What is the current dilemma?
A. Americans find the home buying process too overwhelming.
B. They find it too difficult to come up with the down payment.
C. More than other generations, Millennials value experiences over ownership.
D. Americans change jobs more often than in previous generations.

With SB 2, Sacramento will be adding to the burdens. Within minutes, the Democrats also voted for AB 166 (Salas), which provides exemptions from the new SB 2 fees. You can’t make this stuff up. And those who qualify are not those going through a foreclosure!

Then I warned them about issuing more debt by sharing the following disturbing data from Moody’s Investors Service. Among the 10 largest states in the nation, California joins Illinois and New York as the three worst in all of the following categories:

1. Debt to personal income — 4.70%, when the median for all states is 2.50%.
2. Debt per capita — $2,323, when the median is $1,025.
3. Debt as a percentage of state GDP — 3.94%, when the median is 2.21%

And the state’s own bond credit rating is a measly AA-, just above Illinois, at BBB+. This means that California will be paying higher interest rates than issuing states with top credit ratings.

If this wasn’t enough of a reason to vote against the bond measures, I also gave a lecture on future budget and balance sheet concerns — a “what’s up?” listing:

1. A $4 billion bond translates into $225 million per year in payments! Where will this come from? The Senate approved two such bond bills on Friday.
2. The annual contributions for CalPERS and CalSTRS are also rising.
3. The Proposition 98 school funding threshold into the General Fund is also rising.
4. The minimum wage is rising and will impact the budget by $4 billion per year.
5. The recent voter approved $9 billion bond for school improvements will impact the General Fund by $500 million per year (no wonder the Governor hasn’t released any tranches).

What does all this mean? In a few short years, the General Fund is screwed. But I put it more politely on the Senate Floor, stating that “it will be dramatically impacted. Good luck with that.”

Sacramento so much wants California to be like other blue states that are heading for the fiscal precipice, such as Connecticut, Illinois and New York. And quickly. But, this is the wrong race to be in.

You can bet the Governor will sign these bills and the monopoly party will pat themselves on the back for once again dealing with a problem with inappropriate solutions. Tragic.

THE CALIFORNIA REPORT

Housing Bill Package Passes

Legislature, Goes to Gov.

Brown

By Guy Marzorati

https://ww2.kqed.org/news/2017/09/15/housing-bills-clear-toughest-hurdle-at-state-capitol/

A package of landmark housing legislation is on its way to the desk of Governor Jerry Brown, after receiving final passage in the State Senate.

After a dramatic vote in the Assembly on Thursday night, bills to fund housing construction and streamline development rules received easier passage in the Senate.

“In my mind, this is a really historic day,” said Senator Toni Atkins, D-San Diego. “Together, we are lifting many of our residents out of poverty.”

Governor Brown supports Senate Bills 2, 3, and 35, and is expected to sign the legislation.

Senators had already approved earlier versions of the bills earlier this year.

Once again, moderate Democrats Steve Glazer, D-Orrinda, and Josh Newman, D-Fullerton voted in favor of a controversial real estate fee in SB 2 that will create new funding for affordable housing.

Senate Bill 3, a $4 billion affordable housing bond, passed with 30 votes. It will appear on the November 2018 statewide ballot if signed by Brown.

All Republicans opposed the fee in SB 2, which would be paid by homeowners on transactions like a mortgage refinance.

Senator John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, said SB 2 is “taxing those who are having a tough time because they can’t afford down payment.”

Instead, many Republicans said the state should be focused on eliminating roadblocks to housing development.

That led four GOP members to support Senate Bill 35, which makes it harder for cities to block new housing if they had failed to meet regional goals for approving developments. Despite losing seven Democrats, the measure passed on a 23-14 vote.

Original Post:

A package of bills representing the Legislature’s most significant push in years to address California’s housing crisis overcame its largest hurdle to date, passing the State Assembly on Thursday night. But it didn’t come without suspense.

The bills earmark billions of dollars for home construction, and enact rules making it harder for local governments to block new developments, with the overarching goal of increasing housing stock in the state.

“We are once again showing that here in California we are stepping up and getting the job done,” said Speaker Anthony Rendon, ( D-Lakewood).

In a late night vote, the Assembly approved six housing measures, including the three most high-profile bills: Senate Bill 3, a $4 billion bond measure, Senate Bill 2, a new permanent source of affordable housing, and Senate Bill 35, legislation that makes it harder for local governments to block housing developments.

SB 2 would provide hundreds of millions of dollars in new funding for housing through a $75 fee on real estate transactions, such as those filed in a mortgage refinance, or the redemption of a foreclosed home. The fee would be capped at a total of $225.

“One thing we all share at this time is that we are living in the worst housing crisis that our state has ever experienced,” said David Chiu, (D-San Francisco) chair of the Assembly Housing Committee. “SB 2 is at the heart of what we need to do.”

The vote on SB 2 provided most of the night’s drama.

Like SB 3, the proposed fee required a two-thirds vote in the Assembly, meaning Democrats could not afford to lose any votes if Republicans unified in opposition.

That calculation changed during floor debate, when San Diego Republican Brian Maienschein announced he would support the measure.

Maienschein, the former San Diego commissioner on homelessness, mentioned the issue of Californians living on the street as his motivation for voting in favor.

Half of the money collected from SB 2 in its first year would go towards assisting Californians who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness.

“I do feel compelled to act,” he said. “I wish there was something different to be done, and to do nothing to me isn’t an option.”

But the bill wasn’t out of the woods yet. After debate over the measure ended, three Democrats remained unconvinced.

Democrats Sabrina Cervantes of Riverside, Adrin Nazarian of the San Fernando Valley and Marc Levine of Marin refrained from voting for the fee hike.

Cervantes is a swing-district Democrat who also didn’t vote on July’s cap-and-trade extension.

Levine voiced his opposition to the real estate fee during the summer recess, instead calling for California corporations to shoulder a tax increase to pay for housing.

After holding out for almost an hour — and paying a visit to Speaker Rendon’s office — Levine and Nazarian both relented and voted for the measure.

Rendon and Levine said no side deals were exchanged for their ‘aye’ votes.

“What I’m most concerned about is that the work continues,” Levine told KQED after the vote. “That we’re trying to find flexible policies that help all Californians in all communities plan for the housing we desperately need.”

Getting 54 votes on SB 2 was the culmination of a furious four weeks of negotiating and vote whipping after the Legislature returned from recess in August.

The bill carried the distinct disadvantage of being a legislative caboose on a train with several tough supermajority votes.

In just the last five months, moderate Democrats had been asked to support a road repair bill that raises the gasoline tax and an extension of the state’s cap-and-trade system that will likely increase fuel prices as well.

The third request on moderates, many of whom represent swing districts, came with little time left in the legislative year. That forced SB 2 to compete for public attention with the usual logjam of bills jockeying for passage before Friday’s end-of-year deadline.

Lawmakers pushing the housing fix also had to do without much public help from Gov. Jerry Brown.

Brown, who made fiery, meme-generating speeches in the final days before successful votes on the road repair and cap-and-trade bills, didn’t make a similar rally for the housing bills.

After the vote, Brown did send out a tweet of approval for the bills, which he supports, and is expected to sign if they pass the Senate.

Senate Bill 2 was able to gain support through a series of tweaks; more money was added for the homeless, and a greater share of funds will be directed to local government.

Additionally, language was added to a separate bill to create a hardship exemption for some low-income Californians. Levine said this provision was critical to gaining his support for SB 2.

The Assembly also passed a separate funding measure, SB 3, a $4 billion housing bond that will go before voters in November of 2018, if given final approval by the Senate and signed by the governor.

The bond passed the Assembly on a 54-20 vote, with Republicans Maienschein and Catharine Baker (R-Dublin) voting in favor.

For the most part, Republicans shied away from supporting the bonds and fees, instead arguing that the elimination of regulatory roadblocks would spur more development.

“We’re not talking about zoning,” said Devon Mathis (R-Visalia). “We’re talking about throwing more money at it.”

Legislation to ease restrictions on development also sailed to passage on Thursday night, needing only a majority vote.

The key streamlining measure was Senate Bill 35, which would bypass certain local reviews for developments in cities that have fallen behind on regional housing goals.

Opponents from both parties worried the bill would remove local control from important planning decisions.

“I might have agreed with [that argument] five years ago or ten years ago,” said Laura Friedman (D-Glendale). “But we’re in a really different climate right now. We’re in a crisis, in a housing crisis,” she said before voting for it.

The measures now head back to the State Senate for passage on Friday, the last day in the Legislature before a recess until the new year.

KQED’s Scott Shafer contributed to this report.

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.