Index
Monday
Aug312015

POLITICS/WATER: A follow-up water bond?: "Time for another water bond? Draft language floating" ....  

* Sacramento Bee:  "Time for another water bond? Draft language floating" - From the Bee:

It hasn’t been a year since Californians approved a $7.5 billion water bond. But with drought still ravaging the state – and Democratic-heavy turnout expected in November 2016 – a former Brown administration official is mulling asking voters to approve a follow-up measure.

Gerald Meral, a former deputy secretary of the state’s Natural Resources Agency, sent draft language for “The Water Supply Reliability and Drought Protection Act of 2016” to water agency officials, environmentalists and others in recent days. In an email to associates over the weekend, Meral said his organization, the San Francisco-based Natural Heritage Institute, is considering sponsoring a bond on the November 2016 ballot to “fund programs which were not funded or were underfunded” in the water bond last year.

The draft language leaves the amount of the measure blank, and Meral said Sunday that he doesn’t know how big it would be. “Not too big,” he said. “We shouldn’t get carried away.”

The follow-up bond would include .....................

Monday
Aug312015

POLITICS/EDUCATION: State Allocation Board, school construction funding, "lease-leaseback," commentary (Dan Walters): "A big mess 6 decades in the making" ....  

* Sacramento Bee (Dan Walters):  "A big mess 6 decades in the making" - From the Bee:

California’s public schools saw an enormous enrollment surge during the 1950s from the post-World War II baby boom. It overwhelmed many school districts’ capacities to build new facilities, and one response, enacted in 1957, was called “lease-leaseback.” The law authorized a district to lease a school site to a contractor for a token amount. The contractor would build the school and then lease it back to the district for up to 40 years, after which ownership would revert to the district.

One feature was that a school contractor/lessor could be chosen without competitive bidding, which may have been a fatal flaw. It became a much used – or misused – way for school boards and administrators to build facilities without going through the messy process of asking voters to approve bonds and therefore tax themselves.

By and by, some school officials – with the encouragement of contractors – also bent the system’s original purpose by using it to avoid competitive bidding. In their projects, the “leases” would last only through construction, at the end of which the contractor would be paid off. And in some cases, the phony leases were paid off with notorious “capital appreciation bonds,” which accumulate interest for decades before huge balloon-payments kick in, often several times more than their face amounts.

In 2004, the staff of the State Allocation Board, which parcels out school construction money, described how lease-leaseback was being distorted, questioned the legality and noted that in some cases state money was being used. The report declared, “the integrity of the use of general obligation bonds … must be above reproach” and suggested that the lease-leaseback law be clarified.

The warning was ignored and no-bid contracts proliferated. How many? At least 100 districts have issued contracts involving countless billions of dollars. Los Angeles Unified alone did more than 70 projects worth more than $2.7 billion, according to filings in a lawsuit. Some have been scandals, involving favors to local school officials and campaign financing from contractors.

The U.S. attorney’s office is investigating a 2012 contract for a middle school in Fresno Unified that had been slapped down by a state appellate court as violating the state’s competitive bidding and conflict-of-interest laws. Last week, the state Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the decision. So finally, after decades, phony lease-leaseback contracts have been declared illegal.

Just hours before the Supreme Court rebuffed the appeal, legislative leaders stalled action on a contractor-backed bill to protect them from having to repay lease-leaseback proceeds through a legal process called “disgorgement.”

This will be very messy ....................

Sunday
Aug302015

POLITICS (National): 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump, Republican? or Independent?: "Trump says he'll decide 'very soon' on whether to rule out independent bid" ....

* Washington Post:  "Trump says he'll decide 'very soon' on whether to rule out independent bid" - From the WP:

NASHVILLE — Donald Trump promised Saturday to make an announcement “very soon” on whether he will rule out running as an independent candidate, saying that “a lot of people are going to be very happy.”

In order to appear on the South Carolina GOP primary ballot, the Republican presidential candidate must pledge by Sept. 30 that he will not launch an independent or third-party bid if he fails to win the nomination. State parties have been trying to put the squeeze on the billionaire businessman, who has yet to rule out a potential spoiler role. Trump has refused to firmly close the door on such a move, most notably during the Fox News debate earlier this month.

Speaking to the press after an hour-long speech to the National Federation of Republican Assemblies, the New Yorker said “the Republican Party has been treating me very, very fairly.” “All I ask is fairness,” he said. “Over the next couple of weeks, you’re going to see some things that are very interesting."I’ve been treated very nicely. I’m leading in every poll … I have a great relationship to the Republican Party, to the conservatives, to the evangelicals. …" he said.

"In terms of victory, [running as a Republican] would certainly be the best path to victory,” he added. “We’re going to make a decision very soon, and I think a lot of people are going to be very happy.” ..............

Sunday
Aug302015

POLITICS/SPORTS (Bay Area): Oakland Raiders, shared stadium in Bay Area?: Commentary (Matier & Ross) ....

* San Francisco Chronicle (Matier & Ross):

   ****

$hared $tadium: If the Raiders are willing to share a joint stadium with the San Diego Chargers down in Carson (Los Angeles County), why not stay in the Bay Area and share Levi’s Stadium with the 49ers?

“We’re not going to comment specifically on the business of another NFL team,” said 49ers spokesman Roger Hacker. Hacker, however, did refer us to what team owner Jed York said at the NFL owners meeting in Phoenix back in May. “It’s been the same answer all along,” York said. “The building has been approved for two teams. That hasn’t changed, and it’s not specific to who the team is, and it’s really out of our control. The Raiders, and whoever else is considering new stadium possibilities, they’re controlling their own destiny on where they want to go, and what they want to do.”

The Raiders did not return calls seeking comment. But former team CEO Amy Trask, now an NFL analyst for CBS, said that if the team agreed to move to Levi’s Stadium, it’s conceivable that the league would put up as much as $200 million to help retire the stadium debt. But she also said owner Mark Davis has shown no interest in sharing space with the 49ers.

As former state senator-turned-lobbyist Don Perata, who a while back was an adviser to the Raiders, told us: “When I talked to Mark, he said the Raiders have to have their own home, their own identity and pretty much dismissed (a South Bay move) out of hand.”

Noted Stanford sports economist Roger Noll, however, tells us that one big reason is money. If the Raiders moved in with the 49ers, they would be tenants. If they build a new stadium with the Chargers, they will be partners, much the way that the New York Jets and Giants are equals in their joint stadium deal. “Everything from the seats to the suites are sold twice,” Noll said ...........

Sunday
Aug302015

SACRAMENTO: Califorornia Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, "California takes new approach on water regulation for pot farms"; drones, regulation, "As drone use spreads, California lawmakers push for controls"; education, commentary (Dan Walters), "Fads rise and fall in schools" ....  

***Various items items relating to doings in and/or around the Capitol....

* Sacramento Bee:  "California takes new approach on water regulation for pot farms"

* Sacramento Bee (Dan Walters):  "Fads rise and fall in schools"

* Sacramento Bee:  "As drone use spreads, California lawmakers push for controls"