Index
RSS Feed
Search
Sunday
Mar312013

L.A. CITY HALL: Mayor's race, candidates roll out dueling endorsements, Doug McIntyre column, "Endorsements aren't a vision for L.A."....

* Daily News (Doug McIntyre):  "Endorsements aren't a vision for L.A." - "Dueling endorsements take center stage" - From the DN:

The battle for the black vote turned hot and heavy last week as mayoral march madness made the turn towards ugly April, the month when the airwaves and our mailboxes will feature hundreds of negative ads alleging every kind of chicanery and malfeasance.

"Mark Ridley-Thomas backs me!" crowed mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel. "Jan Perry backs me!" answered her rival, Eric Garcetti. "Pffft." Scoffed the City Controller. "I've got our first African-American President, William Jefferson Clinton!" "Carpetbagger!" parried Garcetti. "Bernie Parks is in my camp." "Three words: Ervin Magic Johnson," trumped Greuel.

   ****

And thus far the 2013 mayor's race has been "The Battle of the Big Wigs" with the two candidates rolling out one famous name after another but almost no policy proposals, only vague platitudes.

Last week Greuel and Garcetti made their pitch for the African-American vote by rolling out surrogates with street cred amongst voters who have no particular attachment to either candidate.

Earlier, Greuel pitched the business community by touting the endorsement of former Mayor Dick Riordan. Team Garcetti answered with business tycoon, Steve Soboroff.

Cue the banjo music. It's dueling endorsements.................

 

Sunday
Mar312013

SACRAMENTO: California Public Employees' Retirement System, analysis, commentary, "CalPERS actuary warns of pension fund shortfalls, says more money is needed"....

* San Jose Mercury News (Daniel Borenstein):  "CalPERS actuary warns of pension fund shortfalls, says more money is needed" - From the MN:

That was then, this is now. When Gov. Jerry Brown signed pension legislation last year, the California Public Employees' Retirement System applauded the "comprehensive set of reforms." Its board president, Rob Feckner, said they marked "a more secure era for public pensions."

This month, CalPERS' chief actuary told a different story. In a sobering, but commendable, report, Alan Milligan calculates that the nation's largest pension system faces better-than-even odds of being dangerously underfunded at some point during the next 30 years. He told the board that CalPERS needs more taxpayer money than previously thought from state and local governments and voiced concern about "slow progress toward full funding." CalPERS, at last accounting, had about 74 percent of the funds it should.

To understand his proposed rate increase, consider pension costs for the California Highway Patrol. The state is already expected to pay 33 cents for every dollar of payroll in fiscal year 2014-15, and 39 cents by 2018-19. Under Milligan's proposal, the rate would reach 44 cents. That's an overall 33 percent increase over the five-year period, although more than half would happen anyhow.

There are many reasons CalPERS is in this jam, including its unusual practice of deferring investment gains and losses far into the future. As a result, while the economy has improved, the pension system has just begun to adjust rates to account for the financial hit from the Great Recession.

Milligan proposes ending that accounting practice and requiring CalPERS to more quickly pay off its debts. His changes would also make CalPERS finances more transparent and reduce rate volatility during economic downturns.

   ****

Let's hope the board, with a history of ignoring its actuary, listens to Milligan's advice this time. It will face intense political pressure to postpone the rate increases. That, of course, would mean continuing to kick the can down the road......................

Sunday
Mar312013

POLITICS/TRANSPORTATION: Caltrans, Orange County high-traffic freeways, Caltrans recommendation to OCTA, raise carpool occupancy requirement, limiting HOV lanes to three-person carpools or charge toll to vehicles with fewer than three occupants....

* Orange County Register:  "Caltrans suggests 3-person carpools, tolls" - "The agency is looking at several options to meet federal standards for carpool lanes, including raising the occupancy requirement and charging tolls for those who don't meet it." - From the Register:

Drivers planning to use the carpool lanes on Orange County freeways would have to find two passengers – not just one – or pay a toll under one plan Caltrans is considering to ease congestion in the fast lanes. That congestion has gotten so bad that the carpool lanes on every one of Orange County's freeways have ceased to function as promised during rush hour, according to a Caltrans presentation to be delivered to an Orange County Transportation Authority committee Monday.

California is under pressure from the federal government, based on a law passed last year, to improve carpool commuting times on such high-traffic freeways. Caltrans officials emphasize that several options are on the table, but a copy of their presentation gives a recommended course: limiting the lanes to three-person carpools and those who pay a toll.

"We're going to be looking at this on a corridor-by-corridor basis," said Cindy Azima, a Caltrans spokeswoman in Orange County. "There is no absolute. It's not all or nothing."

The same discussion is happening throughout the state, but Azima said she does not know how many other freeways have been identified. "We believe similar options and combinations of those options are being explored throughout the state," a statement from Caltrans' Orange County office said..................

Sunday
Mar312013

POLITICS (National): Hillary Rodham Clinton, presidential campaign in 2012: "Will she run? Clinton mum as buzz grows"....

* Sacramento Bee (New York Times -- Jim Ruttenberg):  "Will she run? Clinton mum as buzz grows" - From the Bee:

Hillary Rodham Clinton left the State Department nearly two months ago, but she still needs a staff to keep up with the considerable business of being Hillary Rodham Clinton. A half-dozen people work for the former secretary of state and Democratic presidential candidate in a tiny corporate space on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, in what is called her "transition office."

Transition to what, Clinton and her aides have not said. But the question hovers over her every move and has frozen in place the very early – but for some potential candidates, very important – presidential maneuvering on the Democratic side.

Clinton's post-government life is so new that she is barely off her State Department health care plan. The Iowa caucuses are at least 33 months away. But that has not dissuaded a network of former campaign staff members and volunteers from starting a political action committee, Ready for Hillary, dedicated to what they hope will be her 2016 run.

Nor has it stopped major polling outfits like the one at Quinnipiac University from seeing how she would do in a presidential contest. . . . . . . .

Nor has it kept advisers to some of her potential Democratic rivals from seeking out the smallest of clues to divine her intentions. . . . . . . .

   ****

Venting the frustration of all veterans of Clinton politics and the intrigue that constantly surrounds them, he added, "What's that acronym, WYSIWYG? What you see is what you get."

Friends and major donors insist that Clinton is sincere in expressing ambivalence about seeking the presidency again, and they go so far as to assert that she is simply happy to have time to clean out her closets for the first time in decades.................

Sunday
Mar312013

L.A. CITY HALL: Los Angeles Board of Fire and Police Pension Commissioners, Villaraigosa rejection of board selection for agency general manager, second time Villaraigosa has rejected board recommendation....

* Los Angeles Times:  "L.A. mayor again vetoes pick for fire and police pension manager" - "He doesn't say why he opposes the man who has been running the system for months and who is favored by representatives of sworn employees." - From the LAT:

For the second time in a year, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has rejected the person picked to run the pension system for police officers and firefighters, antagonizing representatives of public safety employees who rely on the agency's $15.8-billion investment portfolio. In a tersely worded letter, Villaraigosa informed the nine-member Fire and Police Pensions board last week that he had vetoed their decision to hire William Raggio, who is favored by representatives of the city's sworn employees.

Villaraigosa gave no explanation for opposition to Raggio, who has been running the system for nearly a year and has been rejected twice by the mayor. One pension board member accused the mayor of politicizing their recruitment efforts and pushing for someone who will be less independent. "He's supposed to rely on us to go through this process, which we've done twice now," said George Aliano, a retired police officer. "We went through the interviews and the applications and all that stuff, and still he's not accepting it. So this is a sham."

The Fire and Police Pensions board will meet Thursday to figure out what to do next, Aliano said. The board has split representation, with five of its nine members chosen by the mayor and the other four elected by a mix of current and retired public safety employees..................