Archive for the ‘B-Daddy’ Category
In a ruling that certainly disappoints, Judge Steven Denton has dismissed the lawsuit of Mel Shapiro challenging the 2% hotel tax that supports the San Diego Tourism Management District (TMD). The suit was dismissed on the technical grounds that Mr. Shapiro lacked standing to file the suit because he was not an affected hotel owner.
From the U-T:
I should have known. First, let me say that I am in favor of all forms of legalizing marijuana, so of course, I am not opposed to medical marijuana. I followed the link on this tweet from Craig Gustafson to read about Bob Filner’s medical marijuana proposal:
The linked U-T story opens with this paragraph:
Mayor Bob Filner is proposing an ordinance to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate in commercial and industrial areas for a $5,000 annual permit fee and a 2 percent city tax on sales.
Bob Filner appears a little unhinged, and frankly unprofessional in a video from local news station NBC 7. He hijacks a news conference by City Attorney Jan Goldsmith to make accusations of unprofessional conduct. His view of the role of the City Attorney appears entirely unbalanced. The City Attorney can’t be fired by the mayor, because he is elected directly by the public. Filner’s tactics are those of a bully or a Congressman, not used to the necessity of working with other members of the team. It seems irrational for the mayor to waste political capital on a personal and public fight with another official with whom he must work in the future. His ego is writing a check he may lack the political capital to afford.
San Diego Mayor Bob Filner has been keeping silent about his views on the 2 percent hotel tax. I previously argued that I thought the tax violated Proposition 26. City Attorney Jan Goldsmith pointed out that the city was taking a risk in the comments section on sdrostra. City Attorney Goldsmith cited his office’s legal opinion which finished with this conclusion:
Prop 26 defines every government imposition of a duty to pay funds to government as a tax unless one of seven enumerated exceptions applies. It is not clear whether the City’s traditional businessbased assessments can meet one of those exceptions. . . .
I find myself partially agreeing with Mayor Filner on the subject of San Diego’s hotel tax. He has stalled on signing the contract that would allow the hoteliers to start using the proceeds to promote tourism and the hotels of San Diego. In an earlier post, I noted that he wanted to use the revenue for “public safety,” but now he is just saying that he had said the tax is illegal. If the tax is illegal, it can’t be used for any activity, including public safety. Meanwhile, the UT article linked above notes that there are lawsuits proceeding against the hotel tax, claiming it violates Proposition 26, passed 2010, which requires a supermajority vote of the people to raise taxes. Here is what the state constitution says about taxes and votes, from Article XIII C, California Constitution:
The U-T has a great article on changes in the portfolio mix of the San Diego County employee pension fund. In 2009, the county fired the fund manager after losses totaling $2 billion in 2008. Assuming that the fund had about $9 billion at the time, that is a loss of 22%, compared withan an S&P loss of 37% for the same year. Taken in context that doesn’t seem that bad. The new fund managers have shifted the mix to include emerging market debt (Russia, Brazil and Mexico) as well as in hedge funds.
I find the 2 basis point (2%) management fee in the new contract to be too high. Fees are a drag on performance, and frankly, the county should be shooting for something closer to 1%. Correction: A commenter pointed out that two basis points is .02%, not 2%. I should have checked the math. The fees compare favorably with the Federal Government’s Thrift Savings Plan. I wouldn’t mind hearing from any professional financial planners on this subject. I am not qualified to say whether the investment strategy is good or not, I just know that above average returns generally do not prevail.
. . . is not that great. I was happy he is stopping medical marijuana outlet harassment by the city, but is that really a burning issue? Beyond that Filner’s start in office has not made me optimistic.
- He cancelled new managed competition actions, claiming that more study is needed and that service levels have suffered. The Miramar landfill competition and street sweeping services were won by city workers, but at lower cost to the city; why is Filner complaining? There is no evidence of correlation between over paying for a service and better levels of service. Kudos to Kevin Faulconer for seeking to push ahead anyway.
At least that’s my take on these comments, as quoted in the U-T article headlined “NOT ALL PROP. 30 TAX HIKE MONEY GOING TO SCHOOLS.”
Brown’s proposed $97.7 billion general fund budget assumes no state employee raises beyond those already required in union contracts. But contracts for all but two of the state’s 21 bargaining units are set to expire by July 2, and the Legislature now has a supermajority of labor-friendly Democrats.
At a news conference, Brown said he didn’t budget raises for fear that it could set an expectation for any specified amount.
After about a year of looking for work, my youngest son (M) got two job offers within a matter of a week. The first was with a fast food outlet and the second with a grocery chain. Signs that the local economy is picking up? I hope so. The alternate explanation is that hiring by local stores, ramping up for Christmas, left other openings in the economy.
Looking for San Diego news to blog about, I notice the extent to which news regarding rich hoteliers looms large locally. Perhaps because tourism is so important to the local economy, we see so many stories.
1. Evans Hotels was recently granted an extension to the lease of the Bahia Resort land on Mission Bay for another 21 years under circumstances that call into question the real motives of the council. Andrew Keatts at VOSD has the story. The $75,000 annual payment doesn’t seem like much for such a choice location, but I am no expert. I really distrust any “public-private” venture. Rich business interests can easily use influence and donations to get good deals that wouldn’t be available in a free market where another private party owned the land. I would like to see the city sell the land at auction and use the money to make up pension shortfalls.
Kelly Davis of CityBeat has performed a public service in detailing some areas where Bob Filner’s philosophy will have a negative impact on the city’s economy. Of course, Davis doesn’t take that view, but a review of potential “progressive” action items doesn’t bode well for the local economy.
- Development. Progressives complain about the city reorganization that saved some money and by moving the planning department to a division in the development department. The building industry is supposedly in favor of the move, because of the potential to steam line the permitting process. However, the move seems to draw the ire of progressives for lack of “transparency.” But faster permitting would seem to promote economic growth, so what is the real complaint here?
Happy Veteran’s Day to everyone. I have been taking a break from blogging and taking it easy yesterday and doing research today. As a veteran so it seems a little self serving to thank veterans for their service; so I will say thank you to the Veterans who have served in combat.
This evening, Justin, a student at Point Loma Nazarene, stopped by my house to talk to me about George Plescia’s campaign for the state senate. My eldest son answered the door, but immediately called for me to take the visit; since Justin was asking about putting up a yard sign. I liked that the first thing he did was ask if I had concerns about California state government. I responded that the budget was a mess and that out of control state employee pensions were a big factor. Justin vouched that Plescia felt the same way; that his candidate was in favor of a Proposition B type reform for state pensions as part of the solution. He also said that if Plescia isn’t elected the Democrats will have such a large majority they will be able to pass any spending they want. (I didn’t think to disagree, he’s right, except for the inevitable math problem when they run out of other people’s money.) He also pointed out that Plescia has created jobs in the private sector, much like Mitt Romney.
I got a call today from the Bilbray campaign, dialing me up from Del Mar (858-617-XXXX according to the caller id). A young man asked me something that was hard to understand because the voice quality of the call was garbled. I thought he asked if I was supporting Brian Bilbray, but in hindsight, I think he must have been asking if I would like to hear a message from the Congressman. Then a recorded message from Bilbray started, again very garbled, although I could still tell it was Bilbray, having heard him in person. I just hung up, a little frustrated.
Without taking a position on the wisdom of sequestration, I have it on good authority that it is the official policy of the Department of Defense not to plan for the eventuality; despite widespread belief that it will. In my opinion, this is because the word has come down from the administration to ignore what is happening so that defense contractors who might vote Democrat won’t change their minds. Of course, its junior enlisted who might be hurt worst, but here is how the administration is protecting them; answer, not much.
Well, that’s not what Jerry Brown and legislative Democrats claim their bill would do, but how can we doubt that wouldn’t be the effect. Here is what they are claiming, as reported in the SacBee:
The goal is to create a savings program in which workers who have no access to a pension can count on a guaranteed rate of return for contributing about 3 percent of their salary.
Sounds laudable? But who will control the money? Who will guarantee the rate of return? According to the article, private insurers would, because:
The news that a police officer was struck in the head by a screw driver yesterday, likely thrown by a bicyclist participating in Critical Mass, isn’t really surprising to me nor to many others. While the goals of the Critical Mass bike movement appear laudable, raising awareness of the unfriendly nature of the urban street environment to bicycles, the mob nature of the event and flaunting the rule of law inevitably lead to instances of violence.
The U-T is reporting that Democratic sponsored polls are showing a dead heat in my home district, the CA-52, in the race between Brian Bilbray, incumbent Republican and Scott Peters, former City councilman and Port commissioner. One poll was at 40-40 and another at 45-45. While these are polls of likely voters, the real question will be what actual turn out will look like between Republicans and Democrats. With two huge tax hike initiatives on the state ballot, I predict that Republican turn out will be higher because tax hikes tend to bring out conservatives; anger motivates voting. Democrats will have less incentive to vote as Obama is a shoe in to take California’s electoral votes. Additionally, Carl DeMaio’s campaign will be emphasizing pension reform. Bilbray’s campaign will be attacking Peters on that issue for his votes during the time he was on the council. I believe this tilts the field against Peters. From the U-T:
Peters has acknowledged that his vote to underfund the pension system was a mistake but said he’s the only candidate in the race to do any meaningful pension reform. He has pointed to negotiating a new pension plan to save the city $23 million a year.
As a tea partyer in deep blue California, it may seem that we have limited ability to influence elections. Gerrymandering keeps almost all House, Assembly and State Senate races non-competitive. However, ballot measures and local races still provide an opportunity to make our voices heard and to beat the entrenched labor/big-government establishment. Temple of Mut has provided a public service by previewing the November ballot issues; but I wanted to add a few thoughts on issues and races that matter in San Diego in particular.
I attended the Anti-Tax Rally today in downtown San Diego held in front of the County Administration Building. Brian Bilbray was clearly the most famous speaker invited. He is in a competitive district, as I have previously discussed. The rally started with doctors in white lab coats speaking about the harm done to health care under the law. Doctor Gary Gonsalves led off the doctors’ segment. (It seems that Obama’s stunt at the White House has made it de rigueur to put the docs in lab coats.)
In the 2010 San Diego City Council race, and in previous mayoral campaigns, the idea of bankruptcy for San Diego has been proffered. However, neither Vallejo, which survived bankruptcy, nor Stockton, now going through bankruptcy have demonstrated that public employee pensions can be discharged in bankruptcy court, at least in California. In California, after the Vallejo experience, the state passed laws requiring that cities contemplating bankruptcy enter into a mediation process. This requires that the city negotiate in good faith with creditors prior to entering bankruptcy proceedings. One group for whom there is no negotiation are the labor unions pensions. From Reuters:
In a little noticed report from the AP, Proposition 29, the Tobacco Tax initiative has narrowly been defeated. Although anticipated, this is the first news announcement I have seen on the issue.
With about 5 million ballots cast, opponents of Proposition 29 led by about 28,000 votes. The Associated Press analyzed areas where the roughly 105,000 uncounted votes remain and determined Friday there were not enough places where “yes” was winning to overcome the deficit.
Noted doping suspect, Lance Armstrong, was a key supporter.
Re-posted with permission from the author at W.C. Varones blog, regarding mass at Mission San Diego de Alcala, Wednesday evening.
First they came for the Catholics, and I did not speak up because I was not a Catholic…
The W.C. Varones Blog stands squarely with American Catholics as they defend their religious liberty from unprecedented assault by the Obama regime.
Thanks to KT Cat for notifying me of this event at the historic Mission San Diego de Alcala — California’s first church.
Two unrelated articles show how the education of children comes last when dealing with the government education bureaucracy and the labor unions representing teachers. In San Diego, the unions and the district struck a deal yesterday to avoid 1,481 layoffs, according to the U-T.
. . . anyone but themselves. I’m not going to waste time searching out all of the left wing excuses for yesterday’s taxpayer victories in Wisconsin, San Diego and San Jose. The tried and true playbook will be to turn to the courts to defeat the will of the voters in the California elections and to blame money and a bad message in Wisconsin. I watched the President of the San Diego firefighters union, Frank De Clercq, on KUSI on election night telling the voters that he would be heading to court to thwart their will. His basic argument is that the taxpayers were only allowed to change his benefits through negotiation. My answer is, tough, your unions have helped elect patsies who have promised pension benefits that were unaffordable. Those promises were made on my behalf, but not in my best interests as a taxpayer. For me this is personal, to De Clercq and Michael Zucchet, my message is that you were work for us, we don’t work for you. As your employer we should have the absolute right to change the conditions of employment when economic circumstances require. There is no inherent right of government employees to be allowed to bargain for wages and benefits. As I have pointed out before: