Index
Monday
May232016

POLITICS (National): 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump, NRA: "Trump at NRA: 'We're getting rid of gun-free zones' if I'm elected"; also, "Clinton accuses Trump of pandering to the NRA" ....

***2016 presidential election, Donald Trump, NRA....

* The Hill:  "Trump at NRA: 'We're getting rid of gun-free zones' if I'm elected"

* Washington Post:  "Clinton accuses Trump of pandering to the NRA"

Monday
May232016

SACRAMENTO: State agencies, local governments, land-use control?: Commentary (Dan Walters), "California housing shortage sets up battle for land-use control" ....

* Sacramento Bee (Dan Walters):  "California housing shortage sets up battle for land-use control" - From the Bee:

Once upon a time, California city officials used two tools to shape how their communities evolved – setting property tax rates and controlling land use. The former vanished when voters passed Proposition 13 in 1978, not only cutting property taxes by more than half, but sharply limiting future tax bites. In response, city officials relied more on land use to keep their municipal engines running – aggressively seeking profitable development, such as sales tax-generating retail complexes, and using, or misusing, “redevelopment” to subsidize favored developers.

A few years ago, Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature repealed redevelopment, saying it was being distorted and had become a vehicle for siphoning property taxes from school districts – about $2 billion a year – that the state had to make up. Meanwhile, cities’ land-use powers have steadily eroded as the state increasingly tells local governments what they can, cannot and must do. Some of that override has been on environmental grounds – based on the assumption that local officials have been too cozy with development interests, to the detriment of environmental quality.

The California Environmental Quality Act, signed by Ronald Reagan, was an early example, requiring cities and other governmental entities to assess and mitigate adverse impacts. A few years later, during Brown’s first governorship, the Coastal Act came into being, giving a commission appointed by the governor and legislators the ultimate authority over land uses in the “coastal zone.” A similar body holds sway over land uses in the Lake Tahoe Basin and another oversees the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Other state agencies, such as regional and statewide water boards, wield indirect power over land uses.

Meanwhile, the governor’s Office of Planning and Research has morphed into a writer of rules under recent state laws seeking to reduce carbon emissions by compelling local governments to favor “transit-friendly,” high-density housing and disfavor low-density housing whose residents drive cars.

California’s chronic and worsening housing shortage will fuel what shapes up as a new clash over state land-use powers.

   ****

City officials, already angered by past incursions, are unlikely to accept a major new dilution of their land-use powers without a fight.

Monday
May232016

POLITICS (National, State): 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders: "Gov. Jerry Brown warns against 'scorched earth' presidential campaign for California"; analysis (Cathleen Decker), "Two white-haired politicians -- Bernie Sanders and Bill Clinton -- call a California truce" ....

***2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, California.....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Gov. Jerry Brown warns against 'scorched earth' presidential campaign for Democrats"

* Los Angeles Times (Cathleen Decker):  "Two white-haired politicians -- Bernie Sanders and Bill Clinton -- call a California truce"

Monday
May232016

POLITICS (State, Local): Unfunded pension debt?: "O.C. Watchdog: Unfunded pension debt approaching $1 trillion?" ....

* Orange County Register (Teri Sforza):  "O.C. Watchdog: Unfunded pension debt approaching $1 trillion?" - From the Register:

So if you don’t live in Irwindale, rejoice: There, even when you look at it through rose-colored glasses, public pension liabilities equal $32,447 for each and every household in the city. Slap on a skeptic’s glasses, and that load skyrockets to $134,907 per household.

Irwindale carries the heaviest pension load of more than 1,000 California public agencies whose data have been sliced and diced and posted for the world to see by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. The heaviest loads in Orange County are in Newport Beach, Brea, Santa Ana, Anaheim and Costa Mesa, ranging from (rose glasses) $5,435 to $6,653 per household, or (skeptic’s) $15,976 to $19,062.

We’ll explain the glasses thing in a minute. But no surprise here: The older cities have had their own in-house police and fire departments for decades, and public safety workers usually get the most expensive pensions. That comes clear in the incredible lightness of being a newer-fangled city, which contracts out for police and fire services (and thus doesn’t carry that pension load on its books): Aliso Viejo, $32 per household (rose) or $126 (skeptic’s); Laguna Woods, $32 or $121; Rancho Santa Margarita, $72 or $239.

Of course, that load winds up somewhere. In the County of Orange – which provides police services to contract cities via its Sheriff’s Department – each of its 1 million or so households has a load equal to $5,108 (rose) or $14,840 (skeptic’s). That’s on top of whatever each household’s city (and other agency) loads may be.

Stanford’s PensionTracker.org launched last fall, initially listing local agencies, and last week added data for every state. California ranked seventh highest nationwide for debt-per-household when viewed through rose-colored glasses ($15,618); and third-highest in the nation when viewed through skeptic’s glasses ($77,700). “I was a little surprised that the unfunded amount per household is as high as it is,” said Joe Nation, public policy professor at Stanford and director of the data project.

All told, California’s public pension systems are $281.5 billion short, including pension bond debt. Through Nation’s lens, they’re nearly $1 trillion in the hole – or $946.4 billion.

   ****

While Nation has calculated “per-household” debt loads, no one is proposing to bill each individual household for pension debt. It’s just a way to bring the problem down to scale for the average citizen – and one that enrages critics .......................

Monday
May232016

POLITICS/ENVIRONMENT: Southern California Gas Co., Porter Ranch, home clean-up?: "Southern California Gas Co. ordered to stop cleanng Porter Ranch-area homes"; "County orders SoCalGas to stop cleaning Porter Ranch homes"; "Public Health Department To Hold Meeting Over Cleaning Procedures In Porter Ranch" ....