MOORLACH UPDATE — Quiet Bills, And Not So Quiet — May 3, 2018

Senate Bill 688 is one of my quiet mental health related bills (see https://moorlach.cssrc.us/content/senate-bill-688-mhsa-transparency).

It’s very simple in that it will require counties to follow generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) for their Mental Health Services Act reports and provide the data on the counties’ websites. The Voice of OC mentions it in the piece below.

Another quiet bill is SB 1363 (see https://moorlach.cssrc.us/content/senate-bill-1363-national-alliance-mental-illness-california-voluntary-tax-contribution-fund and MOORLACH UPDATE — Right to Peaceably Assemble — April 13, 2018).

However, there are bills that some of my colleagues write that are not quiet at all. For instance, AB 2943 by Assemblyman Evan Low is causing my phones to ring off the hook. I strongly oppose this bill and I’m not amused that a good segment of my constituency is upset by its introduction. If you’re one of them, and you’re making calls to Legislators, you can skip my office, please.

HOUSING & HOMELESSNESS

Anaheim, Buena Park and Fullerton Team Up to Battle Homelessness

By Spencer Custodio

https://voiceofoc.org/2018/05/anaheim-buena-park-and-fullerton-team-up-to-battle-homelessness/

The mayors, city managers and police chiefs of Anaheim, Buena Park and Fullerton met with U.S. District Judge David O. Carter Tuesday morning about creating a plan to combat homelessness that would be a “model” for the rest of the county.

“He (Carter) realized we had done more (than other cities) and encouraged us to join together to see if we couldn’t do a special project to create a model,” Fullerton Mayor Doug Chaffee said during the City Council meeting.

“He (Carter) also acknowledged that south county doesn’t do its share — he said that very strongly,” Chaffee said from the dais.

Carter is overseeing two federal lawsuits against the county. One lawsuit was filed in January on behalf of the Santa Ana Riverbed homeless population after the county moved to evict the people without providing a place for them to go. The cities of Orange, Anaheim and Costa Mesa also are named in that lawsuit.

The second lawsuit, filed in February on behalf of the disabled homeless, alleges the county excludes disabled people from county services, according to the lawyers.

In an attempt to get all Orange County cities under Carter’s jurisdiction, the Santa Ana City Council unanimously voted April 24 to sue the other 33 cities.

Throughout the court hearings over the past three months, Carter has repeatedly said he wants South County cities to “step up” and contribute their “fair share” to the homeless population.

“I appreciate what Judge Carter’s doing. He’s asked that our three cities … report back about mid-June,” Chaffee said.

Chaffee said, in a quick interview after the council meeting, Fullerton, Buena Park and Anaheim are looking for a site for some type of shelter, but it’s still too early to give specifics.

“We’re looking for a site,” Chafee said. “We need a site, then a plan, then ask for the money (from the county) … Without a site, we can’t have a plan.”

He said it would operate somewhat like the Bridges at Kraemer Place homeless shelter in Anaheim. Fullerton helps fund the site at $500,000 a year. Homeless people have to be screened for outstanding warrants and referred to get into Kraemer’s 24-hour shelter. Sex offenders aren’t allowed.

“I think if we could get him a model project, that’s our goal … It would be somewhat like Bridges,” but without the restrictive background checks, Chaffee said.

Chaffee this year is a candidate for the Orange County Board of Supervisors seat now held by Shawn Nelson, who is a candidate for Congress.

The City Council also authorized staff to review city ordinances about homelessness and bring back suggested changes to the council. According to the agenda staff report, some city codes are outdated and need revision, like one that limits churches to house only 12 people per night in emergency beds.

“Part of the direction to staff is that we work with the plan. Part of that (plan) is collaborating with our other cities, Anaheim and Buena Park,” Chaffee said.

Councilwoman Jennifer Fitzgerald directed staff to come up with a plan to hire more personnel, along with a budget, and show it to the county in an attempt to get the plan funded.

“I would like to see our staff put together a plan for additional police officers and mental health professionals that also includes a budget with it that we take to the county to get funded,” Fitzgerald said during the meeting.

Council members also liked the Orange County housing authority proposal from the Association of California Cities — Orange County (ACCOC) and supported the association’s proposed 2,700 homes with support like mental and health services for homeless people, known as “permanent supportive housing.”

“That is not just a pie in the sky plan,” Fitzgerald said. “I’m the president of that organization this year. We have committed to working with the county — all 34 cities.”

Chaffee voiced support for the trust plan, but was wary of south county’s efforts.

“I would support the suggestion that we consider the countywide housing trust … I don’t know how we get all the cities in there, it may be more regional,” Chaffee said. “I’m concerned about south county not doing their share. Do we include them in the trust? Then it’s just one more thing for them to screw around with — pardon me.”

Carter, during the April 4 court hearing, called on south county mayors to take their “proportional” share of the homeless population and the mayors agreed to find a homeless shelter site at the April 19 meeting of south county mayors.

At the meeting, the mayors proposed a remote site near Silverado Canyon on Santiago Road, next to a library and a preschool. Public pushback followed immediately and the idea was shot down by a unanimous vote of the Board of Supervisors April 24.

Homeless services manager Rebecca Leifkes said homelessness in Fullerton increased 54 percent in the past five years and the city is now home to 496 homeless people. Police calls about homelessness have also increased from 2,125 in 2012 to 6,749 calls last year, she said.

Leifkes also said Fullerton has 1,508 affordable housing units for “low, extremely low and very low” income earners, which are defined as 30 to 60 percent of the area’s median income, according to the staff report.

Under the ACCOC plan, Leifkes said Fullerton would need 120 permanent supportive housing units in order to help spread the responsibility around the cities in the county.

Additionally, Fullerton is home to the National Guard armory that holds at least 200 beds and typically operates as an overnight homeless shelter during winter months. But due to the riverbed and civic center clearouts, combined with the lack of shelter beds in the county, Gov. Jerry Brown extended the shelter use April 10 for another three months. The Santa Ana National Guard armory shelter was also extended.

Council members also levied criticism at the county for its unspent Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) money.

A Voice of OC review of county funds in March found at least $230 million of unspent funding that could be used to help alleviate homelessness. Of that amount, $186 million is MHSA funds and another $73 million to $136 million in “unassigned” general fund money

“I just want to be sure that we keep asking and looking for that funding,” Councilman Jesus Silva said. “I want to make sure we get to the bottom of where (the MHSA money is).”

Fitzgerald said the county doesn’t do enough to keep track of the MHSA money.

“The county has 200 programs right now that they fund through that funding … but there’s no comprehensive audit of those funds,” Fitzgerald said.

The council also supported four different state Senate and Assembly bills centered around homelessness and mental health. Three of the bills garnered unanimous support from the council.

Councilman Bruce Whitaker didn’t support Senate Bill 1045, which is a pilot program for San Francisco and Los Angeles Counties that would create a process for appointing a conservator for someone who is chronically homeless and can’t take care of themselves. He said it was too broad and could be abused.

Additionally, Assembly Bill 1971 increases the definition of “gravely disabled” to mean people who can’t provide for themselves and pose a danger because they failed to receive mental or medical health services. Under the proposed bill, introduced in January, people who are “gravely disabled’ could be involuntarily held for up to 6 months if they continue to be prove an immediate danger to themselves or others.

The other two bills relate to funding, including one from Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) which would require all counties report their MHSA funds online, including revenues and expenditures.

“$200 million of that seems to have gone to Orange County and it’s sitting somewhere in a bank account,” Chaffee said during the meeting.

Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC reporter who covers south Orange County and Fullerton. You can reach him at scustodio.

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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 1297 – COO — April 19, 2018

One common misperception is that State Senators run the various departments of the State of California. Wrong. They don’t. The problem I’ve found is that I don’t know if anyone is actually running this place.

The Board of Supervisors of California’s counties have direct intervention with the department heads on a county’s organizational chart. This is not the case for Sacramento legislators.

We can write bills to tell departments what they should be doing and we can hold a hearing once a year to ask department heads what they’re accomplishing.

For example, Tuesday afternoon I participated in the Oversight Hearing of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Mental Health, titled “Mental Health Services Act: The State Could Better Ensure the Effective Use of Mental Health Services Act Funding.”

It gave me a chance to ask Jennifer Kent, the Director of the California Department of Health Care Services, about the disappointing management report that resulted from the State Auditor’s Report 2017-117 (see https://www.auditor.ca.gov/pdfs/reports/2017-117.pdf). . Observations of her department being ineffective and minimal in its oversight of the Mental Health Services Act needed to be addressed. The reverberations of this revenue source have been rattling Orange County as Judge David O. Carter keeps referring to it.

I informed those present about the Naked Capitalism piece, the first one below. It assumes that, by the readers contacting me, I can do something about an awkward hire to a very serious position with the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS). Wrong. But, at least I can rattle the cages in hearings.

Let me explain why the piece below is worth forwarding to you. It shows that embellishment of one’s resume is not a good idea. Someone may just do some fact checking. This was done by LA Times Columnist Michael Hiltzik. Mr. Hiltzik has enjoyed a long relationship with the LA Times. For proof, and a fun read down memory lane, go to MOORLACH UPDATE — LOOK BACKS — December 14, 2009.

Why this long introduction? To make an argument for Senate Bill 1297 (see http://district37.cssrc.us/content/senate-bill-1297-state-chief-operating-officer). This state needs better management and SB 1297 provides for a leadership position that can address matters of this nature. It will be heard in the Senate Governmental Organization Committee next Tuesday.

The second piece, from R Street, provides the details of the four pension bills that I will be presenting in the Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee on Monday. They are SB 1031, 1032, 1033 and 1433 (also see MOORLACH UPDATE — City CAFR Rankings – Vol. 8 — February 22, 2018, MOORLACH UPDATE — City CAFR Rankings – Vol. 5 — February 14, 2018, MOORLACH UPDATE — City CAFR Rankings – Vol. 4 — February 12, 2018).

The third piece, from Fox & Hounds, addresses SB 1074, which will be heard in the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee on Monday.

This week I presented SB 1363 successfully to the Senate Appropriations Committee and it is now on the agenda for a Senate Floor Session vote. SB 1463 in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, not so good. Let the record show that I tried to address the global warming concerns with SB 1463. I would conclude that the state’s efforts to truly address greenhouse gases are, at best, a joke, and at worst, a fraud. Not including the greenhouse gases generated by wildfires and not approving the provision of a simple way to address the hardening of electrical power lines is, in my opinion, legislative malpractice by the majority party.

SB 1325 died in the Senate Health Committee, thus not providing a protocol to address medical emergencies in a mature and cooperative manner for all of the residents of our state.

To give you the rest of my workload for next week and the details concerning the bills that I will be presenting, please see http://district37.cssrc.us/legislation.

SB 1159 will be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday. SB 1099 will be heard in the Senate Public Safety Committee on Tuesday. SB 1049, 1395 and 1411 are scheduled to be heard in the Senate Governance & Finance Committee next Wednesday, although I may drop SB 1411 and try it again in the next Session.

I will also be back to the Senate Health Committee Wednesday afternoon to present SB 1206 (De Leon) to address forward movement on “No Place Like Home” initiative.

Presenting more than a dozen bills next week will probably make it the most crazy of the year.

BONUS: Today my third grandchild was born at Hoag Hospital. Welcome to my newest grandson, Koa Keitara Johannes!

Los Angeles Times Confirms Our Reporting on CalPERS CFO Charles Asubonten’s Resume Misrepresentations; CalPERS Admits to Fabrications and Gets Defensive

by Yves Smith
https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/04/los-angeles-times-confirms-reporting-calpers-cfo-charles-asubontens-resume-misrepresentations-calpers-admits-fabrications-gets-defensive.html

The Los Angles Times’ Pulitzer-Prize-winning reporter Mike Hiltzik confirmed our reporting on the misrepresentations and discrepancies in the resume of recently-hired CalPERS Chief Financial Officer Charles Asubonten and called on the board to investigate. If you managed to miss the series, you can find the links to them at the end of this post.

But what is particularly surprising about his article, Questions about new CalPERS CFO’s background and experience should be taken seriously by the pension fund, is that the CEO Marcie Frost and Asubonten spoke together to Hilzik on the phone and yet did not deny any of the issues raised in our series (to be clear, talking around a problem does not amount to disproving or denying it). Hiltzik may have covered more points with them than he discussed in his article; I pinged Hiltzik to congratulate him on the piece and he mentioned not being able to cover certain discrepancies due to space constraints.

It is even more surprising that Frost decided to act as her own flack rather than get a professional involved when neither she nor Asubonten have disputed any of the facts presented in our series of articles (and bear in mind, they had more than a week between when I e-mailed the board with a detailed outline of most of the misrepresentations and when I launched the series.

I urge you strongly to read Hiltzik’s article in full, but in case you are time pressed now, here are the high points.

Frost and Asubonten effectively admitted to resume discrepancies. Hiltzik’s story focused on two of Asubonten’s major claims. One was that he was responsible for what he stated was a 70% CAGR increase in the stock price of Palabora Mining Company. Hiltzik confirmed what we had found, that the stock price was in the upper 40s when Asubonten joined versus the 20s that he had put on his resume, and never fell that low the entire time he was there.

Hiltzik also questioned the premise that any mid-level manager could have the impact that Asubonten asserted that he had. He also mapped Palabora’s stock price against the price of copper, showing that the commodity price moves alone largely explained changes in Palabora’s stock price.

The second major claim that Hilzik investigated was one that both Asubonten and later CalPERS made, that he had been the managing director of a private equity firm. Frost in attempting to defend Asubonten admits that our assessment was accurate, that Asubonten was never a private equity professional, as in employed in an asset management firm that was investing money on a discretionary basis. Frost stated that Asubonten’s company was a consulting firm.

As we pointed out more than once, consultants to investors, including very prestigious ones like McKinsey, BCG, and even ones whose business is primarily that of consulting to investors like Houlihan Lokey never call themselves private equity firms. Even worse, Frost said that per Hiltzik, “her understanding” was that Asubonten’s firm was a consulting firm that advised international investors. That strongly suggests that even in the face of the controversy over Asutonten’s truthfulness, Frost has made no effort to make any independent verification of the questionable claims on his resume, and on top of that, is trying to rationalize ones that clearly were misleading. Hiltzik observed that CalPERS’ parroting of Asubonten’s dodgy “private equity firm” claims would probably not pass muster with the SEC if CalPERS were a public company.

Asubonten made a new claim that does not match up against public information. Marcie Frost told JJ Jelinic that Asubonten admitted to a period of unemployment, which we had assumed was after he was terminated from Palabora Mining Company at the end of 2009 through at least the end of 2010, since according to the suit he filed against Palabora in South Africa, he was looking for a job then.

This is what Asubonten told Hiltzik:

He said the employment gap on his resume covered a period in which he was working with a consortium on an ultimately unsuccessful effort to buy the copper mining company.

That does not hold water. As you can see on the resume embedded at the end of the post, at the top of the second page, he depicts himself as having been involved in his private equity activities staring in 2010 to 2012. Asubonten told the Los Angeles Times that that “employment gap” was occupied by working with unsuccessful bidders to buy Palabora.

But Palabora was not put up for sale until early September 2011. Moreover, having participated in mergers and acquisitions at Goldman, later running a mergers and acquisitions business, and subsequently worked regularly with investors, typically on the buy side, it is clear that Palabora’s majority owners Rio Tinto and Anglo American put the company up for auction, which is how companies are sold to get the best price.

Mind you, virtually all divisions of large companies are sold via auction. The only time a seller, particularly a seller that is a public company, might deviate from that practice is if a public sale could damage the value of the asset, if there were some critical senior executives who might bolt in the event of a public sale and would therefore have a major say on who the new company owners would be. or there were competitive considerations. None of these would apply to a relatively small, non-strategic operation like Palabora.

It is similarly inconceivable that Rio Tinto would have been engaged in any serious discussions with potential buyers prior to putting the company up for sale. It’s too well demonstrated that auctions yield the best price for corporate seller to engage in a preliminary time-wasting exercise when a property eventually be sold publicly in a highly structured process. Similarly, any serious buyers would know they’d at best be setting up a public sale if they were to approach a possible seller. Thus, the usual practice among possible purchasers is simply to let a potential seller to be sure to include them in any future buyer solicitation rather than put any energy into putting together an offer.

Having said all of that, it is credible that Asubonten did get himself a consulting assignment with one of the groups that was kicking Palabora’s tires. As a former CFO of the unit, Asubonten could present himself as having inside information about the operation and knowing its cost structure particularly well. But even with established clients (as in they know my price and terms and have accepted my standard agreement), I’ve never had it take less than a week and a half to firm up arrangements on an assignment. So charitably, the earliest Asubonten could have been engaged to work on a purchase of Palabora would have been mid September 2011. That leaves a full 20 1/2 months of unemployment in 2010 and 2011.

Hiltzik dings the board for behaving “childishly” and shirking its duties. From the close of his article:

…the board has shown itself to be one of our less impressive public bodies. Just a year ago, as I reported, the board was bogged down in intramural bickering and attacks on one of its most tough-minded members, J.J. Jelincic.

As recently as last month, this behavior surfaced again, when board President Priya Mathur locked board member Margaret Brown out of CalPERS premises over what appeared to be a minor infraction. Moreover, according to a letter sent to Mathur last Friday by James Moody, an attorney for Brown, and reported by Webber, Mathur or CalPERS staff under her direction have been diverting mail addressed to Brown at CalPERS—and apparently to other board members as well—and in at least some cases not sharing its contents with the addressee….

All this suggests that the CalPERS board members need to be given something serious to work on so they have less time to act childishly. A good place to start would be to inquire just how one of the system’s most important executives was recruited and hired, and whether he’s everything his CEO says he is.

Since as Hilzik points out, neither Marcie Frost nor the board seem inclined to ask the questions they ought to be asking about Asubonten, CalPERS beneficiaries and California taxpayers need to give them a nudge

Here are the members of the Senate Standing Committee on Public Employment and Retirement:

Senator Richard Pan (Chair)

Senator Mike Morrell (Vice Chair)

Senator Connie M. Leyva

Senator John M. W. Moorlach

Senator Anthony J. Portantino

Here are the members of the Assembly’s Public Employees, Retirement, and Social Security Committee:

Freddie Rodriguez (Chair)

Travis Allen (Vice Chair)

Sabrina Cervantes

Ken Cooley

Jim Cooper

Patrick O’Donnell

And here are the contact details for the two elected state officers who also sit on CalPERS’ board:

Mr. John Chiang
California State Treasurer
Post Office Box 942809
Sacramento, CA 94209-0001
john.chiang
(916) 653-2995

Ms. Betty Yee
California State Controller
P.O. Box 942850
Sacramento, California 94250-5872
b.t.yee
(916) 445-2636

Naked Capitalism reader have have an impact when snail or e-mailing California state officials on CalPERS matters. I hope you’ll rise to the occasion again.

If any of the legislators above represent your district, I would write them expressing your concerns about governance at CalPERS. Or you could write all the members of both committees and tell them you have friends and family in their districts and plan to call their attention to the festering problems at CalPERS. If you are a CalPERS beneficiary, be sure to mention that.

If CalPERS can’t respond properly to the LA Times saying that its CFO’s resume doesn’t add up, and is not even allowing board members to get its own mail (link to our post yesterday), how can it possibly be up to the challenge of handling its underfunding crisis? Tell them the board governance is so clearly inadequate that they need to create an inspector general for CalPERS to provide badly-needed supervision. Copy Yee and Chiang, who as statewide officials are also sensitive to constitutent letters.

Thanks so much for your interest and efforts!

Pension bills are common sense –

yet have little chance of passage in

Capitol

steven-greenhut-e1524060848722-400x400.jpg

Steven Greenhut

Western Region Director, State Affairs

http://www.rstreet.org/2018/04/19/pension-bills-are-common-sense-yet-have-little-chance-of-passage-in-capitol/

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System’s report released last week touts all of the pension fund’s good news, which it says “has built a solid path forward for the long-term future of the fund.” But as longtime pension reporter Ed Mendel pointed out in his recent blog, the pension fund’s future is still quite troubled. Apparently, myopia reigns at CalPERS.

Consider this fact, raised by Mendel: Despite earning more than double its predicted returns during a bull market last year, CalPERS’ funding levels only increased by a blip, from 67 percent to a meager 71 percent of the funds needed to pay its future costs. Pension experts say that 50 percent funding is the likely point of no return – if a pension fund’s assets fall below that level it will be nearly impossible to ever recover to a healthy funding level.

Meanwhile, California cities continue to struggle with service cutbacks as CalPERS wallops them with increasing fees. The term is “crowd out” as cities cut “core services, including higher education, social services, public assistance, welfare, recreation and libraries, health, public works, and in some cases, public safety” to pay their CalPERS bills, according to a Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research report last October.

CalPERS isn’t facing the death spiral of, say, New Jersey’s pension funds, which are funded at a frightening 31 percent. But the problem should not be taken lightly. The stock market is at record heights. If there’s a downturn – and, as Gov. Jerry Brown likes to point out, there always are downturns – local budgets, the state budget and retiree earnings could all be at risk.

Enter state Sen. John Moorlach. The Costa Mesa Republican, best known for predicting the 1994 Orange County bankruptcy, has introduced four relatively modest pension reform bills that could help CalPERS get control of its liability problem. They are scheduled for an April 23 hearing in the Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee. They have little realistic chance of passage in the Democratic-controlled, union-friendly Legislature – but it’s still worth proposing sensible, constructive measures to highlight the extent of the state’s pension problem. When the problems become too severe to ignore, at least CalPERS and legislators will know what approaches they have available to tackle the mess.

Senate Bill 1031 would “amend California Government Code to temporarily freeze cost of living adjustments (COLAs) when a public retirement system investment fund drops below an 80 percent funded status,” according to the senator’s office. That is a simple approach to ballooning pension costs. California public-employees already receive exceedingly generous pension benefits. It’s absurd to keep giving them raises given the fiscal situation.

Senate Bill 1032 is more complex but potentially more significant. It should be called the Terminator bill because it would, well, terminate something known as the Terminated Agency Pool, or TAP. Currently, CalPERS invests all its retirement contributions in a general pool that has a predicted rate of return of 7 percent annually (down from 7.5 percent). The higher the predicted return, the lower the predicted funding problem. Most experts believe that return rate has been set too high over the long term despite the great returns from last year.

However, when a government agency shuts down, as something called LA Works has done, or chooses to exit CalPERS because it can no longer afford to make CalPERS’ payments, the pension fund sticks them in a separate pool. That pool, the TAP, has a low-risk expected rate of return of 2 percent. In the general pool, taxpayers are on the hook for any shortfalls. When agencies unlock themselves from CalPERS’ golden handcuffs, only CalPERS is responsible for paying them off.

So the fund assumes a return that is basically a risk-free return – and is more reflective of the realistic rates that would exist sans all those taxpayer subsidies. Moorlach wants to put an end to that shell game. It would be a significant reform because, by eliminating TAP, more local governments would feel free to pursue options outside CalPERS. Currently, they can’t leave CalPERS because they’ll be hit with an enormous financial penalty for doing so. For instance, Calimesa was able to start its own fire department (with a 401/k retirement plan rather than a defined-benefit pension) because it was not burdened by all those penalties.

Senate Bill 1033 requires agencies that contract with CalPERS “to bear full financial responsibility for actions that would increase actuarial liability for a member’s pension contributions,” according to the senator’s statement. If they boost pension payments, they should bear the full costs of that decision. That’s a simple matter of fiscal responsibility.

Finally, Senate Bill 1433 restricts counties or districts from newly participating in a Defined Retirement Option Plan, or DROP. DROPs are such a taxpayer giveaway that they were targeted by the governor’s own pension-reform legislation in 2013. A DROP allows public employees to collect their full pension and receive their full salary, too, which they get in a lump sum upon their actual retirement. The existence of these programs is proof that the state’s retirement systems are much too generous.

Police and firefighters can retire at age 50 with 90 percent of the average of their final years’ pay. Many want to keep working and their agencies want them to keep working. But because the “3 percent at 50” retirement plan is so lush, they would be working for little or no pay if they stayed on the job past the young age of 50. Instead, they get paid almost double. These programs were supposed to be cost neutral, but have cost billions of dollars because they were underpriced.

Los Angeles’ DROP program is particularly controversial. The program “received a flood of new enrollees in February,” according to the Los Angeles Times. This “coincided with a Times investigation in February that found the program, which was created in 2002 to keep veteran officers and firefighters on the job, allows participants to file workers’ compensation claims and then take extended injury leaves at nearly twice their usual pay.” This has cost more than $1.6 billion, with the average participant walking away with an extra $434,000, per the Times.

Given the pension funds’ fiscal condition, it’s hard to understand any serious opposition to these modest measures. When the health of the system is on the line, why wouldn’t the state want to clamp down on costs? Stay tuned for the hearing, even though the Legislature has yet to show any interest in reining in pension costs.

The Public Deserves Transparency of Pricing at the Pump

Ronald Stein

By Ronald SteinFounder of PTS Staffing Solutions, a technical staffing agency headquartered in Irvine

http://www.foxandhoundsdaily.com/2018/04/public-deserves-transparency-pricing-pump/

Fuel prices in California are among the highest in the country, as a result of some of the highest taxes in the country, plus the costs associated with compliance with various State environmental laws, which trickle down to the consumer, resulting in Californian’s paying as much as $1 more per gallon than most folks in the country. A bill currently working its way through Sacramento is SB 1074 (Moorlach) “Transparency in fuel taxes”.

Most everything that is bought, from clothes, computers, vehicles, etc., are based on price plus tax, except one item – transportation fuels, as the posted price includes everything.

Case in point was SB1 for Transportation Infrastructure funding that is targeted to raise $52 billion for infrastructure projects, added 12 cents to gasoline and 20 cents to diesel on November 1, 2016. With California already having some of the highest fuel taxes in the nation, the cost of those fuels did not change last November, but the posted price at the pump did change, but was not transparent to the public as to why fuel prices went up.

Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) compliance is getting tougher to meet each year as well as more costly each year. Today, the California Energy Commission (CEC) shows that the LCFS adds 10.1 cents per gallon for gasoline, and 6.8 cents for diesel. Those costs trickle down to the consumer and are hidden within the posted price of fuel at the pump.

The CEC also shows that Fuels Under the Cap (FUTC) i.e., the “boutique” fuel standards for gasoline and diesel required by the Federal Clean Air Act and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to meet the state’s fuel blending requirements for reformulated gasoline standards accounts for 11.9 cents per gallon for gasoline, and 14.5 cents for diesel. Again, those costs trickle down to the consumer and are hidden within the posted price of fuel at the pump.

Cap & Trade revenues are funding the High Speed Bullet train as well as many other “green” projects. Within numerous state government agencies, there is a feeding frenzy on getting a piece of those lucrative cap and trade “fee” revenues for their projects. Again, those costs trickle down to the consumer and are hidden within the posted price of fuel at the pump.

The CEC shows that California fuel consumption is at the highest level since 2007. Fuels consumption for California’s 35 million registered vehicles in 2016, of which more than 90% were not EV’s, was 52 million gallons per DAY of gasoline and diesel. Sounds like a lot of fuel, but it’s only about 1 plus gallons per day per vehicle, resulting in refueling requirements every week or two.

With numerous incentives, 50% of the EVs in the nation are in one state-California, but they only represent about 7% of the 35 million registered vehicles. With the other 49 states accounting for the other 50%, it appears that nationwide, they are not endeavored by the EVs.

On a go forward basis, internal combustion engines appears to be the choice of citizens. The California economy is heavily driven by affordable transportation. Yet, Californians pay more per gallon of gasoline and diesel due to costs that are not transparent to the public.

A Yes vote on SB 1074 would expand transparency at the pump by creating a Quick Read (QR) Code that directly links the consumer with updated costs of taxes and regulated costs associated with the production of each gallon of fuel purchased would demonstrate that our elected representatives favor transparency of the costs that are included on the posted prices for fuel at the pumps to show the public why Californians are paying as much as $1 more per gallon than the rest of the nation.

On the contrary, a No vote on SB 1074 would demonstrate that our elected officials do not want the public to know why our fuel costs are among the most expensive in the country.

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 — Right to Peaceably Assemble — April 13, 2018

I have a diversified portfolio of bills that we have introduced for consideration, as you can see on my website at  http://district37.cssrc.us/legislation.

I also have the opportunity to be a co-author on a number of bills.  And, on rare occasions, I’m even a joint-author.  This was the case for SB 1004 (Weiner), which will establish a strategic, statewide focus for how counties utilize funds generated by the Mental Health Services Act for prevention and intervention in the early stages of mental illness (see http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB1004).

I testified on behalf of SB 1004 this past week, along with Sacramento Mayor and former State Senator pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, an author of Proposition 63 (2004), in Senate Health Committee, where it passed unanimously.  On the subject of the Mental Health Services Act, which has become a major focus of my time over the years, I was appointed to the Senate Select Committee on Mental Health during Wednesday’s Senate Rules Committee meeting.

The LA Times discusses another bill of mine in the piece below, SB 1099, the Right to Peaceably Assemble.  Last October, the Senate Judiciary Committee, where I serve as Vice Chair, held a hearing on hate speech, which spurred several ideas (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Combatting Hate — October 3, 2017MOORLACH UPDATE — Elephant in the Room — October 4, 2017 and MOORLACH UPDATE — Showmanship Let Down — October 7, 2017).

After considering a number of responses to the nonsense that had recently occurred at the University of California Berkeley, I thought the city of Los Angeles had the best response, so I am trying to duplicate it on a statewide basis.

I also wish to thank University of California, Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman for providing me with a copy of his new book, “Free Speech On Campus,” which he co-authored with University of California, Berkeley Law School, and former University of California, Irvine Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky (see https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300226560/free-speech-campus).

Now that I finally have an article that addresses one of my bills, allow me to give you an update on our portfolio.  Here is a follow up on the calendar that I provided in MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 1463 Redux — March 30, 2018.

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

Although this bill was referred to as self-serving, it still passed out of Committee with 6 votes, 2 opposed and 1 abstention.

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

This bill was killed on a partisan vote of 2 to 4.

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.

Both bills were killed on a partisan vote of 2 to 4.

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

Although I was tied up presenting the above 3 bills in Education Committee, Sen. Nguyen kindly presented this bill, with a big assist from Sen. Beall, and it moved forward with 6 votes and 1 abstention.  It will be heard by Senate Appropriations on Monday morning, April 16th.

This week, I only had SB 1004, discussed above.  Next week I will also present the following two bills:

April 18 — SB 1463 — Cap and Trees

See http://district37.cssrc.us/content/senate-bill-1463-cap-and-trees

Senate Environmental Quality Committee

April 18 — SB 1325 — Peaceful and Natural Dignity Act (PANDA)

See http://district37.cssrc.us/content/senate-bill-1325-peaceful-and-natural-dignity-act-panda

Senate Health Committee

image6

 

By PATRICK MCGREEVY

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-california-legislature-campus-free-speech-20180413-story.html

Last year’s bloody clashes on California college campuses have spawned a battle in the state Legislature over how far the law should go to protect unpopular speech and prevent violence between those with opposing political views.

In recent weeks, legislators have started to act on bills introduced in response to a series of confrontations, including a melee at UC Berkeley over a proposed campus speech by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

Lawmakers and activists have fought over a wide range of proposals, many introduced by Republicans who say conservative speech is being vetoed by violence on California campuses.

Similar debates are happening in statehouses across the U.S., with many Democrats concerned that neo-Nazis and other purveyors of hate speech are instigating conflict, citing violence in Charlottesville, Va., last summer when white nationalists marched across the University of Virginia campus, and a far-right rally the following day that turned fatal.

California’s Democratic majority has scuttled bills including one that would have disciplined students who interfere with speeches, or withheld funds from campuses that don’t take steps to protect controversial speaking events.

“Freedom of speech is not free in California — it comes with a price,” Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) said in a statement after the Democrats voted down her penalty bill. “As long as you say what government wants to hear, they’ll protect your right to speak.”

Another sidelined bill would have made it a crime to wear masks or disguises to demonstrations, but opponents said it could be used to quash free speech. Other measures, including legislation modeled on a Los Angeles antiviolence ordinance, are expected to be taken up in the next few weeks.

But stronger bipartisan consensus has emerged around a bill that would require state colleges to affirm in formal statements the importance of freedom of expression, and to set the stage for student instruction on the history and value of the First Amendment.

“When you have everyone with a deeper appreciation for why we need to have a free exchange of ideas, then people will be less inclined to take action against ideas that they find repugnant or wrong,” said Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin), who coauthored the bill with Democratic Assemblyman Bill Quirk of Hayward.

In all, nine bills were introduced in response to incidents including the February 2017 riot at UC Berkeley in which 150 protesters, many masked agitators, caused some $100,000 in damage and injured several people there to attend Yiannopoulos’ speech, which was canceled.

The anti-Yiannopoulos protesters, who accused him of hate speech, hurled Molotov cocktails, set fires, threw fireworks at police and smashed windows using barricades, according to authorities. Many wore face coverings to hide their identity.

Clashes in later months resulted in the cancellation of an appearance on campus by conservative commentator Ann Coulter.

And in April of last year, an off-campus event billed as a “Patriot Day” rally by far-right, pro-Trump activists resulted in 21 arrests after fights broke out with counterprotesters. The Times reported both sides threw rocks and sticks at one another.

Naweed Tahmas, a leader of the UC Berkeley College Republicans, testified at one of a series of legislative hearings held in recent weeks that he has been chased, threatened, punched and spat on by people on campus who disagree with his political views.

“I am not exaggerating when I say that free speech is on life support at UC Berkeley,” Tahmas told legislators. “I do not feel safe on my own campus.”

Nobody from the public testified against the bill, but Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk Silva (D-Fullerton) disputed the claims of supporters.

“Where I would disagree is, unlike some of your information for Berkeley, I think free speech is alive and well,” she said, noting that Yiannopoulos spoke at Cal State Fullerton in her district and there was no violence because steps were taken to keep protesters apart.

A federal lawsuit alleges that Katrina Redelsheimer and her husband, John Jennings, went to UC Berkeley last year to hear Yiannopoulos and were attacked by a crowd of black-clad anarchists who beat the couple with sticks, kicked them and doused them with pepper spray.

“I thought that my husband was dead,” Redelsheimer said this month, recalling the sight of her husband lying unconscious on the ground.

The lawsuit charges that the UC administrators and police violated the couple’s civil rights by failing to protect them, “permitting hordes of rioters to swarm the University campus in a violent rage.”

UC administrator Karen French told lawmakers during a hearing last week that free-speech rights are a priority for the universities, but that restrictions on public events are sometimes warranted when student safety is at risk.

The Kiley-Quirk measure has been endorsed by the 13 Democrats and Republicans who make up the Assembly Committee on Higher Education. The measure was drafted with input from Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC Berkeley School of Law, and Howard Gillman, chancellor of UC Irvine.

The instruction on the importance of the First Amendment can happen in classrooms, at student orientations or in other venues, according to the bill. Supporters say its aim is to strike a balance that avoids punishing schools or students.

“Through educational programming, universities can help foster an appreciation for the history and value of free speech, and why it is essential to democratic government and academic freedom,” Chemerinsky said.

Another legislative committee recommended a measure by state Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) that would require the California Community Colleges and California State University systems to adopt “free expression” policies that end the practice of limiting speeches and literature distribution to small, remote “free speech zones” on campuses.

Instead, the bill would require larger outdoor areas on campuses to be designated for public discourse, including allowing students to “spontaneously and contemporaneously distribute literature and assemble.”

The rejected Melendez bill would have gone much further by allowing the state to withhold funding from campuses that fail to comply with a statewide policy on free speech.

The legislation would have also prohibited university administrators from disinviting speakers who students have invited to events, and created disciplinary actions for students who interfere with the free-speech rights of others.

Opponents were concerned that the bill’s proposal to allow funds to be withheld from campuses deemed out of compliance could result in the disruption of thousands of students’ college educations.

Jose Medina (D-Riverside), chairman of the Committee on Higher Education, said the proposal was “too prescriptive, and I believe if enacted it would result in unintended consequences.”

That drew rebukes from Melendez and Tahmas, who charged that Democrats “failed in their duty to protect the constitutional rights of California’s students.”

Tension rose again this week when a Senate panel rejected a Republican bill that would have made it a crime to wear a mask or disguise to public demonstrations.

Nielsen told colleagues that he introduced the bill out of alarm that law enforcement did not act more aggressively in stopping violence at UC Berkeley.

A representative of the ACLU of California said that there is no need for Nielsen’s bill because the law already makes it illegal to wear a mask during the commission of a crime, adding that allowing police to arrest masked persons not committing a crime could lead to disparate treatment based on the message of the demonstrator.

Still awaiting a vote are measures including a bill by state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) modeled after a Los Angeles ordinance that makes it a crime to carry sticks, rocks, baseball bats, glass bottles, guns, knives and pepper spray at public demonstrations.

“I just think you don’t need a two-by-four or a lead pipe to hold up a sign,” Moorlach said. “We’re trying to say you should not be intimidating people and you should not be causing physical harm to people, nor should you be destroying property that belongs to the state of California.”

Redelsheimer is skeptical of the flurry of legislative activity in Sacramento.

“State-funded institutions are already required to abide by the First Amendment,” she said. “Attacking people with sticks and pepper spray is similarly already illegal. As usual, what we need is the will to abide by and enforce existing law rather than create new legislation.”

patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

 

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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.”

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