Archive for the ‘B-Daddy’ Category
Here is a summary of key areas in the fight to prevent state and local public employee pensions from bankrupting governments.
Detroit. Judge Stephen Rhodes will rule today at 10:00 a.m. (EST) on whether the city is eligible to enter bankruptcy. From the LATimes. Most legal experts expect Rhodes to declare that Detroit is eligible for bankruptcy protection. A ruling to enter bankruptcy would give emergency city manager Kevyn Orr leverage to bargain with unions over pension reductions or to make unilateral changes. Whether such changes would be constitutional would be decided later.
Eventually the mathematical results of under-funding ever more generous pension benefits for state and local employees becomes a problem for Democrats too. Illinois legislators are expected to vote this week on pension reform that would pare back pension benefits in three important ways.
- Reducing cost of living increases.
- Increases retirement age.
- Capping the salary amount available for pension calculations.
The conventional wisdom, based on extensive polling, is that the San Diego mayor’s race is for second place between David Alvarez and Nathan Fletcher. Kevin Faulconer is expected to easily take first place but not to get over the 50% threshold needed to avoid a run off. Craig Gustafson writes in the U-T that Fletcher still leads Alvarez, 24% – 22%, but Fletcher’s numbers have been falling. However, the polling assumes a 20% Latino turnout. That might be too high an estimate.
Democrat Todd Gloria is the acting mayor of San Diego and chair of the City Council budget committee. He has performed a public service by providing a breakdown of the city budget deficit for 2015. Bottom line, the budget has a deficit, but that deficit will be made worse by spending promises made by the city council over the past few years. I like the Voice of San Diego headline: Gloria Reveals the Cost of Saying Yes. The U-T reports that just maintaining the current level of services results in a projected deficit of $19 million next year. Adding in promises made by the City Council would increase the deficit to $62 million and infrastructure repairs add another $16 million. Gloria has done a service by clearly laying out the impact to the deficit of all the promises made by the city council in the past.
To see the impact of the health care law’s implosion on political campaigns, look no further than my own 52nd Congressional district here in San Diego. Scott Peters, the incumbent,is expected to face a tough re-election campaign against the well-known Carl DeMaio. (I supported DeMaio for Mayor last year.) While DeMaio has a Republican primary to get past, his high name recognition and backing of the GOP central committee makes him the likely nominee. DeMaio has been hammering Peters on the health care issue, even though the election is a year away. Peters has said he would support a House Republican bill to allow individuals to keep their health care. That Peters would be support a GOP bill on this issue is evidence of how toxic the issue has become. Leading Democrats are attacking Fred Upton (R-MI) over his legislation, doubling down on the President’s argument that the public doesn’t understand how bad their policies really are and that this is just another GOP plot to undermine the law. Scott Peters has been supporting the law until recently.
This is a bit of a re-run of a previous post, but with all the focus and hoopla on filthy-Filner and the who’s in and who’s out of the campaign, we have lost sight of the fact that America’s Finest City still has challenges.
Here is an update on what I would ask the mayoral candidates in a debate.
- Will you wholeheartedly support the pension reforms of Proposition B, including working with the City Attorney to vigorously defend the measure in court? Explain your next steps to implement these reforms.
The title of the article refers to my dining plans for breakfast, lunch and dinner in light of the “fast-food” strike set for tomorrow in San Diego and elsewhere. I will be showing solidarity with the workers of those establishments who choose to show up and provide the generally good service we have come to expect in all American businesses. I predict that I will have no trouble getting my meals, as the “strike” is an astroturf operation of the SEIU. If the strike by San Diego’s roughly 8,000 fast food employees was otherwise, why would the strikers only gather at a single establishment downtown? For the publicity and the photo op, of course. I just feel sorry for the jurors who won’t be able to hit the Wendy’s on their break from duty. Other than that, this will be a great big fizzle. To my astroturf point, the AP is reporting:
Some Republicans have privately told me that they are sitting out the effort to recall Mayor Filner, saying it makes little difference to governing San Diego and that the GOP might be better off if Filner drags down Democrats. I wholeheartedly disagree. Exhibit A is the July 30 ordinance requiring a “prevailing wage” for city contracts for public works and maintenance efforts.
There is plenty of coverage of the allegations regarding Filner’s sexual harassment. Leslie Eastman at College Insurrection has a nice summary and sdrostra.com is chock full of articles on the subject. But Filner has demonstrated plenty of other out-of-control behavior that together paints a portrait of a man teetering on the edge of sanity.
- Most disturbing to me, because it is such an affront to civil behavior, his ex-fiancee said that she made the “gut-wrenching decision” to break up with Filner after she said he recently started text messaging other women sexually explicit messages and set up dates in front of her. Bronwym Ingram, the ex, said that he had lost the ability to treat anyone with civility.
There is no doubt that Bob Filner is on his way out as Mayor. I predicted he might not make it, but this is fast. Today both the U-T and KPBS reported that prominent Democrats, including Donna Frye, are urging the mayor to resign over sexual harassment allegations. There is also the little matter of an FBI investigation into a pay-to-play scandal involving Sunroad Centrum’s project in Kearney Mesa.
Richard Rider provides a nice summary on Twitter:
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.