Tuesday, November 4, 2014

San Bernardino: Vote Yes on Measure Q and R

Why are Progressives backing a measure that on it's face seems anti-union? If you don't live here in San Bernardino you wouldn't understand. But if you were to stay awhile, you would feel that something is fundamentally wrong. When I first moved here 10 years ago, I didn't pay attention to local politics much but as I did I started to get that feeling of wrongness.

The wrongness is that the public safety union (whom up to 80% don't live here) dictated our budget. There was a palpable fear on the council dias to cross them and when anyone did public safety moved swiftly to remove him/her. When we stood up in a bi-partisan fashion in 2011, we dealt a severe blow to that wrongness. However, work to build a San Bernardino for San Bernardino residents continues.

Some residents are so consumed by the fear of the "criminal element" that they vote no on this measure. Public Safety at any expense, budget be damned!! This is the wrong mentality to have because we control our future.

I want to dispel a myth on Measure Q specifically and make a persuasive case for voting for this measure.

The Less Safe Myth

41 residents on average will be victims of murder/non-negligent in San Bernardino in any given year, according to FBI statistics for the past 30 years. It doesn't matter how many officers we have on the street. An initial regression analysis shows that the murder/non-negligent homicide rate have a statistically insignificant correlation to the amount of officers we have at any given time. Again, this means that the murder/non-negligent homicide rate is not influenced by the number of police that are on the street.

This is shown by our murder rate over the past 30 years. The murder/non-negligent homicide rate has never been in the single digits. The lowest amount of homicides was 17 in 1985 and the highest amount of homicides was 82 in 1993.

Fears about crime in San Bernardino are relative. Personally, I feel safe in the city because I know the data and I know where the hot spots are. Crime is like a virus, but police can only do so much, we have to stop the spread ourselves.

Back to Basics Government

We are the only city in the state of California to have this type of provision enshrined in its governing document. In addition, when other charter cities want to renew their charters they don't look to San Bernardino as a model. We used to be an All-American City and a model for city governance, now we are a poster child for what not to do.

Back in the day, Section 168 was beneficial because it smoothed out the averages and San Bernardino had a solid tax base. But a triple whammy happened. We lost our tax base, SB 400 passed (which created the 3 at 50 formula and made the benefit retroactive), and the population is aging (put pressure on pensions).

Now we are in a situation in which we pay a premium for salaries, but our police force will remain stunted due to the 3 at 50 formula and the unfunded liabilities.

Collective bargaining is used by every union in California, San Bernardino can be apart of this tradition too if a Yes Vote is cast for Measure Q. San Bernardino should not be leave the majority of the budget on autopilot.

Section 186 is a trap for our city, because as salaries go up so do benefit payments we have to make to the California Public Employees Retirement System. This reduces the amount of general funding that we use to provide other needed services and creates a service insolvency. This service insolvency then creates a vicious cycle that elminates our focus on economic development, parks, libraries, and roads.

Autopilot Funding will Lead to 2nd Bankruptcy

A No Vote on Measure Q will lead San Bernardino down a path to second bankruptcy. Because we can't make economic development a priority, we will have stunted growth at best. While other cities with collecting bargaining have more robust tax bases, because we peg our salaries to theirs, our costs will continue to go up eating more and more into the budget and increasing our unfunded liabities.

This leaves little room to hire planners and other economic development personnel who are able to grow our way out fast enought to keep pace with rising costs. Without economic development personnel we are left with haphazard growth and stunted growth. With increased costs and stunted growth second bankruptcy is not to far away.

Please Vote Yes on Measure Q and R.

Thank You


Monday, November 3, 2014

San Bernardino County Progressive Voting Guide 2014 (Propositions)

Prop 1 - Yes

The water bond will be like a mini-stimulus package for local projects, but the price tag ($7B) has me worried about the cost of compromise for future water proposals.

Prop 2 - Yes

I'm like meh on this measure, we keep passing raining day funds and Sacremento keeps ignoring them.

Prop 45 - Yes

A single point person to blame for increasing insurance rates is better than the back door shenanigans we have now.

Prop 46 - No

Doesn't feel fair somehow.

Prop 47 - Yes

Join Inland Empire Churces in backing this measure. Sending folks to prison for minor offenses only makes them hardened criminals, not reformed citizens.

Prop 48 - Yes

I don't even know why this is on the ballot. A deal was made with this tribal nation, honor it.

San Bernardino County Progressive Voting Guide 2014 (State and Local Races)

Governor - Jerry Brown*

The governor really needs to step up his leadership in the Inland Empire and other inland areas by tackling the issue of poverty headon.

Lt. Governor - Gavin Newsom

Secretary of State - Alex Padilla

Padilla has show some love for the Inland Empire, stopping here twice on the campaign trail.

Controller - Betty Yee

Yee has also shown some love for the Inland Empire, speaking at the Democratic Luncheon club. She is also a genuine data geek!! However, her endorsement by the San Bernardino Peace Officers Association leaves a question mark in how she will deal with pensions.

Treasurer - John Chiang

Attorney General - Kamala Harris

Insurance Commissioner - Dave Jones

Board of Equalization #4 - Nader Shahatit

Shahatit is from Highland!

Superintendent of Public Instruction - Tom Tomlarkson


31st Congressional District - Pete Aguilar

Needs to work on connecting with the working class voter, but better than Chabot.

40th Assembly District - Katy Henry

Board of Education Area D - Hardy Brown II

I'm sorry Lecticia Garcia, you gotta at least show some fight. Hardy Brown II is an establishment figure in this area and well respected.

San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District #3 - Danny Tillman

The other Democrat in the race, Susan Longville has the former Republican Chairman Robert Rego as her chairman. In addition, she is making conservative arguements about taxes and not saying anything about local control of water resources. Danny Tillman hasn't even run a campaign, but he has board experience.


San Bernardino County Republicans in 2014

I have to hand it to the Republicans in this election year here in the Inland Empire. They have launched a concerted effort to stave off their irrelevance, not by switching their stance on issues but by trying to paint themselves as the aribiters of good governance with a homely appearance.

Republicans have tried to make some cities more competitive, targeting specifically San Bernardino and Highland but have generated mixed results. In San Bernardino, the advantage is with the Democrats and remains a bastion of working class populism due to its impoverishment and general malaise due to bankruptcy. While Pete Aguilar has struggled here, Paul Chabot's extremism is a turnoff to those rely on government benefits directly to make ends meet.

Chabot's talk of cutting taxes and not saying how you will pay for them means giveaways to so called job creators will be paid for on the backs of the poor. No matter how much Chabot harps on his belief that conservative Democrats are the majority in the 31st Congressional District, it doesn't make it so. Just look at the totals for Eloise Reyes and Justin Kim to see that a solid progressive faction can make the difference in a close race.

In Highland, its a different story or so it may seem. Stienorth has used his substantial cash advantage to reduce the gap between Katy Henry and himself. But we have seen this before, where Republicans re-register Democrats, but just create more problems for themselves statistacally. I would say that at the very least 30% of those newly registered Republicans are at still Democrats at heart. But, East Highland may hold the key to Stienorth's victory. He's up by 7 points as of today among absentee voters.

So Republicans, enjoy your victories (and may the be few) because we know they won't be long lasting.



Saturday, November 1, 2014

Being Black on a Saturday Night Will Get You Killed

Increasing awareness of the disparities of our judicial system will eventually lead to systemic changes in that process. Officer invovled shootings or OIFs in the judicial parlance are rarely deemed unjustified. In San Bernardino County, there have been no charges brought against officers who were involved in shootings even in the most egregious of circumstances. Being shot 5, 6, or 17 times are instances of overkill that should not be deem justified because law enforcement have semi-lethal methods to defend themselves. However, the District Attorney fails to prosecute because politically he needs the support of law enforcement to get reelected.

As the chart above notes, black men are 21 times as likely to get shot by police than whites. 31 folks per 1 million might seem low, but multiplied by the total population of the United States (approximately 300 million) those numbers jump to 9405 black teenage men killed every year by law enforcement.

To break this vicious cycle, we have to vote for change. In addition, law enforcement accountability measures need to be established and enforced.


Friday, May 30, 2014

Law designed to block predatory payday lending to vets too easy to circumvent -Paul Klien/Mitchell Hartman

 Seven years after Congress banned payday-loan companies from charging exorbitant interest rates to service members, many of the nation’s military bases are surrounded by storefront lenders who charge high annual percentage rates, sometimes exceeding 400 percent.

The Military Lending Act sought to protect service members and their families from predatory loans. But in practice, the law has defined the types of covered loans so narrowly that it’s been all too easy for lenders to circumvent it.

Full Story here and more here.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

San Bernardino: Make Economic Development a Priority

Economic Development needs to be a priority. This budget doesn’t reflect that priority. This council pays lip service to economic development but if the money doesn’t back the words, then the words are just wind instilling false hope in our residentswho need jobs.  Hiring just one person, even a great person will ensure slow growth at best. 

We need a professional economic development team. Right now Riverside has 25 planners, Rialto has 12, and Fontana has 15. We only have 2. And those cities also have other economic development personnel which puts us in a distinct disadvantage. 

San Bernardino and its residents will continue to suffer and not develop any competitive advantage if this council doesn’t make economic development a priority by the putting the money behind their words.

In order to grow our way out of this bankruptcy and develop the quality of life we deservewe need an economic development team. If not, then the 9,400 San Bernardino residents who are currently unemployed will continue to be unemployed with more to follow.

Without a professional economic team in place, then economic development will be rushed, unplanned, and wasteful whichleads to a haphazard form of economic development that stunts growth or severely retards it. There are many examples of this type of unfocused development all over this city.

In addition, we are under constant threat from being poachedand plundered. IEHP administration was moved out of San Bernardino to Rancho Cucamonga, the development of Citrus Plaza threatens Hospitality Lane, Highland Village, and future Rialto developments will ensure that more blighted and empty commercial buildings continue to add blight our city and drain future growth.

Lawmakers Push Payday Lender Bill -WSJ

 Lawmakers Push Payday Lender Bill

House lawmakers are pushing new legislation that would allow nonbank lenders, including payday lenders, to choose to operate under a federal charter instead of following different state laws. Backers of the measure say it would help consumers who are unable to obtain affordable credit from traditional sources. Introduced by Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) and Joe Baca (D-Calif.), the bill would allow the payday loan industry to circumvent rules enforced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Instead, nonbank lenders that received a federal charter would be under the supervision of the Comptroller of the Currency. However, the proposal would prohibit loan periods of less than one month; and firms could not make loans that they do not believe consumers can pay back. But consumer advocates say the law would not ban predatory lenders from charging excessive fees and other unscrupulous practices. The legislation would actually block regulators from capping the interest rate or fees that nonbank lenders could charge for loans made under the federal charter, allowing predatory lenders to evade state usury laws.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Profiting from Recession, Payday Lenders Spend Big to Fight Regulation - Keith Epstein

Full Story


Joe Baca weakens regulation of Payday Lending Industry
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), chairman of the subcommittee with authority over consumer credit issues, had once advocated extending to all Americans an effective ban on payday lending for military personnel that Congress passed in 2006. By last year he had scaled back, urging an amendment that would have limited to six the number of loans a borrower could receive in a year.
Gutierrez’ less-restrictive amendment died when Democrats including Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), threatened to vote against the entire consumer protection act if the payday provision was included. It also faced opposition from Rep. Joe Baca (D-Calif.), who countered Gutierrez with an amendment the industry regarded as favorable because it had the potential to open payday lending to new markets. Baca said in a statement last year that while "fly by night lenders" should be banned, he wanted to “ensure that students, blue collar workers, teachers, police officers and others have access to legitimate payday advance loans if needed."

All of the lawmakers – as well as many of their colleagues on the House Financial Services Committee – have received campaign contributions from the industry, its executives, employees and lobbyists. Since 2006, Gutierrez has received $38,550, Baca $16,250 and Hastings $13,500. Almost all of Baca’s contributions were reported during the last half of 2009, as the financial reform bill took shape. Chairman Frank has received $12,300 from the industry’s political action committees since 2006, and last year even Speier received some donations from the payday industry’s PACs: $3,500.
Gutierrez, Baca and Hastings declined requests to be interviewed for this story.

Kevin Kimble, Co-Founder & Director of Policy Development
 Another slide, from a presentation by Kevin B. Kimble, a vice president of Cash America, the nation’s largest supplier of pawn loans, and William Sellery Jr., a top FiSCA lobbyist, warned: “Payday lending now in play.” They characterized the industry’s strategic response as an “aggressive, multi-pronged defense” of payday lending, including not just traditional means of influence but creation of organizations such a “Coalition for Financial Choice” to counter the image of payday lenders as debt traps. The group’s Web site,www.coalitionforfinancialchoice.org, describes financial services as a “fundamental right” and urges supporters to refer to themselves as “pro consumer choice.”

31st CD: Joe Baca and The Revolving Door

The revolving door. It is a feature of American politics, whenever a Congressmemeber or a person from any administration retires, resigns, or quits they immediately go join a firm where they use their contacts to influence the very folks they used to be apart of or worked for.

Why? Because these contacts are worth money, sometimes big money and here is case in point.

After being summarily fired by the folks in the 35th Congressional District, Joe Baca co-founded a lobbying firm called the Financial Services Innovation Coalition. This coalition specializes in keeping regulation lax for predatory payday loans to low income families and veterans. 

According to the California Department of Business Oversight, San Bernardino  has 51 active payday lending institutions the most in San Bernardino County.

And if you think that payday lending is banned for veterans and military service-members, think again! 

Oceanside has 29 active payday lending institutions with most located within 15 miles of Marine Corps base Camp Pendleton.

Collecting lobbyist cash, while keep the poor impoverished and veterans and in debt is the Joe Baca way. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

How Republicans lose by winning

By Todd S. Purdu


It’s the predominant paradox of contemporary American politics: If Republicans prevail in this year’s midterm congressional elections, it will be because of their party’s sharp-edged stances on topics like abortion and Benghazi, Obamacare and immigration, gay marriage and the minimum wage — issues that energize the GOP’s core base of support.

But if Republicans lose the race for the White House in 2016, it will be because of their party’s polarizing, out-of-step stances on those very same issues, which alienate much of the broader electorate the GOP needs to win a national contest in a country whose demographics and political realities are shifting under its feet.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/05/how-republicans-lose-by-winning-106961.html#ixzz32nYjPyds

Thursday, May 22, 2014

31st CD: The Pro-Baca SuperPAC

Baca is once again trying to pull the wool over the eyes of Inland Empire voters. Instead of voters having to find out after the fact that Baca took illegal donations, now he can hide behind the secrecy that surrounds SuperPACs to back his play. Baca accepted over $15,000 in 1999 so that he can win a special election seat...who knows how much Cal Voters for (dis)Honest Government spent to promote Baca as a Reagen Democrat. We probably won't find out until after the fact and quietly to boot!
Do you want a congressman who is unaccountable to the voters and who only pays attention to monied interests?

 I think not!

As the reports below show, Baca is willing to play fast and loose with the rules in order to get what he wants, which is another seat in Congress. Don't be fooled voters!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

31st CD: For Baca, Old (Blue) Dog Old Tricks

Greed, Disrespect, and natural political alignment with Conversatives on issue after issue is the hallmark of career politician Joe Baca. Above the infamous Baca vs Brown campaign, where an upstart and aging assemblyman Joe Baca challenged a regal and stately Marta Brown. Baca was the definite conservative in the race, especially on the Guns issue. The NRA spent heavily on him to win. Previously, on any gun issue Assm. Baca would back the NRA to the butt stock, so to speak.

Now, former Congressman Joe Baca is painting himself as the Regan Democrat, willing to buck the establishment and cut the deficit, starve government, etc., etc., etc. Sorry Baca but this Back to the Future routine won't work.

31st CD: Happy Birthday Joe Baca! From Lesli Gooch

The Washington Elite are thick as thieves these days with Leslie Gooch and former Congressman Joe Baca in it to win it...or should I say in it to swindle it. 

I ran across this flyer the other day and I was surprised to see that Leslie Gooch put on a B-day bash for Joe Baca. I don't know why I was surprised because Washingtonians run in the same circles... Trading favors and apparently $5000 a plate birthday cakes while the folks in the Inland Empire are barely scraping by.

However, once in the Inland Empire they act like they don't know each other and are the sincerest of enemies. 

These Washington Elites are only out for one thing, lining their pockets and that's with a cherry on top!

Monday, May 19, 2014

SB: Warehouse Jobs Not the Right Fit

As a passage to the middle class, warehouse jobs are not for the city of San Bernardino. The range of wages for various warehouses is:

Evolution fresh: $8 
Fresh and Easy: $10 
Amazon: $10.50 
Khols: $11  

While they do provide entry-level jobs for low skilled workers, the drain on social services is not ameliorated. In addition, warehouse jobs take up too much space that might be subject to creative destruction in the future which would leave the city with large blighted subclass properties.

I don't know where the advocates of warehouse get the number $45,000 as a median income most wages are way below that as shown above. 

San Bernardino needs to tread cautiously to ensure that this type of development is in the long term interest of its residents.