Posted by Craig P. Alexander on September 2, 2015
We in Orange County have seen several versions of the COIN Ordinance (Community Openness In Negotiations). COIN ordinances provide for more and earlier disclosure to the taxpayers during and in the run up to the final approval of a contract between the public entity employer and a government employee union. This allows the citizens to know and understand the costs of the “deal” they will have to pay for. It also gives them time to give their opinions to their own elected officials about the deal the officials negotiated on the voters behalf.
The City of Costa Mesa was the first to put a COIN ordinance in place. The County of Orange also put one in place only to have the employee’s union challenge it before a Labor Commissioner who ruled against the ordinance – that is currently on appeal by the County.
It was with some surprise that I saw that the Los Angele Times (no fan of conservative ideals and principles) called for the implementation of a COIN ordinance in the City of Los Angeles. Here is a link to the editorial: Los Angeles Could Use More COIN. As the LA Times editorial points out, the back room deal of 2007 was a financial disaster for the City and its taxpayers. It looks like a similar secret negotiation then quick City Council approval process is going on again. A COIN ordinance would likely allow for the taxpayers who are going to foot the bill for this deal to know what they are being obligated to pay for before their elected officials vote for the labor contract. In other words, so the voters and taxpayers of the City of Los Angeles could have time to communicate to their elected representatives what they think of the deal.
Lets put some numbers to all of this: According to www.TransparentCalifornia.com the 2013 median income of Los Angeles residents was $38,939.00. The average salary for City employees in 2013 (there were 35,919 full time and 46, 918 total employees in 2013) was $90,167 and when benefits (pension and health care costs) are added that rises to $101,675.00 not including future payments for retiree pensions and retiree health care costs. Los Angeles total employee compensation for 2013 was $3,866,476,670.00. Thats right: almost 4 billion dollars (and down from almost 5 billion dollars for 2011 and 2012). With 3,827,261 residents in the City of Los Angeles, that means the total employee compensation cost per resident is $1,010.00. Here is the link for the summary page for 2013 from Transparent California. By comparison the 2013 cost per resident in Orange County was $577.00. Orange County summary. The City of Orange: $597.00. City of Orange summary. And perhaps no surprise: Los Angeles County for 2013: $933.00. Los Angeles County summary.
So it would appear that in the City of Los Angeles city employees are paid more than twice the median salary of taxpayers of that city. Plus the public employees also receive all of the city paid health care and pension benefits now and in the future.
When will the citizens of Los Angeles get a COIN ordinance – likely never unless the voters of Los Angeles demand it by making big changes in their City Council and the Mayor’s office. This would mean that the generally left leaning voters of LA would need to ignore the labor union financed campaign ads for City Council and Mayor candidates. They would need to stop those nice labor union bosses with their labor friendly politicians cutting these deals behind closed doors. How? By electing City Council members and a Mayor who are not beholden to the unions for their political fortunes and futures.
Voters of the City (and County) of Los Angeles – the decision is in your hands.
Posted in Costa Mesa, Orange, Orange County | Tagged: City of Los Angeles, COIN Ordinance, Los Angeles County, Transparent California | 3 Comments »
Posted by Craig P. Alexander on August 26, 2015
Yesterday was a banner day for Hypocrisy by the majority party in Sacramento.
As has been written in this blog by myself and others, Democrat Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez has been pushing for the State Auditor’s office to “audit the audit” by the City of Irvine into the mismanaged $200 million plus taxpayer dollars that were squandered by the prior City Council majority lead by then councilman Larry Agran. The City’s audit (spearheaded by City Council persons Christina Shea and Jeffery Lalloway) has already shown that millions of dollars have been wasted on no bid contracts with firms like Gafcon, Inc. – with whom Assemblywoman Gonzalez has close ties. Apparently Ms. Gonzalez, afraid that the audit will continue and find reveal more bad actions by Gafcon, Inc. (one of her political supporters), got the Joint Legislative Audit Committee to vote along partisan lines to order the State Auditors office to audit not the Great Park financial mismanagement by Larry Agran, but the audit itself. Here is the link to the article in the Orange County Register: State to Investigate Great Park Audit. This audit will occur despite the opposition of many Orange County elected officials lead by Assemblyman Don Wagner. The State Auditor’s office is to determine if the Irvine audit was “too political.” Lets see if the State Audit itself is “political” or not.
At the same meeting of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, the Democrat majority killed a request by Republican Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (with support by Republican State Senator Jean Fuller) to audit how state funds are being spent by Planned Parenthood in California. Please keep in mind Assemblywoman Melendez was not asking the committee to “defund” Planned Parenthood, just to audit them to make sure the taxpayer funds being given to PP were being spent as intended. Given the overwhelming evidence of Planned Parenthood selling baby parts / organs and now whole baby cadavers themselves (often apparently in violation of federal laws) via the videos being released by the Center for Medical Progress, there is more than good reason to audit Planned Parenthood to make sure taxpayer dollars are not being misspent. The vote was, again, completely along party lines to deny the request. Here is a link to the full article in the Flashreport (written by eye witness Katy Grimes): Partisan Lawmakers Kill State Audit of Planned Parenthood’s Public Funding.
Once again our State Legislature has proven to be partisan overall. An audit of the auditors trying to find out what happened to millions and millions of taxpayer dollars regarding the Great Park and no audit of Planned Parenthood in spite of overwhelming evidence of misconduct and perhaps even criminal conduct. O I forgot, both Gafcon and Planned Parenthood are Democratic party supporters!
Posted in Irvine | Tagged: Assemblyman Don Wagner, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, Center for Medical Progress, City Councilperson Christina Shea, FlashReport, Gafcon, Great Park Audit, Joint Legislative Audit Committee, Katy Grimes, Larry Agran, Mayor Pro Tem Jeffery Lalloway, Orange County Register, Planned Parenthood, State Senator Jean Fuller | 1 Comment »
Posted by Craig P. Alexander on July 17, 2015
Yesterday (July 16, 2015), after a seven day trial, Superior Court Judge Andrew P. Banks issued his decision awarding the parents and children who wished to convert their failing public school Palm Lane Elementary into a public charter school under the Parent Empowerment Act (also known as the Parent Trigger Law). To read the Court’s ruling go to: CJC5thflr@occourts org_20150716_144242
In brief, the Judge found that the parents had complied with and substantially complied with all of the requirements of the law and that the Anaheim City School District and its Board of Trustees had neither complied with the letter nor the spirit of the law. Judge Banks ordered that the Board reverse its February 19, 2015 finding that the parents had not gathered enough signatures (he ruled they had) and their erroneous finding that Palm Lane Elementary was not a “subject school” that was eligible to be converted to a public charter school.
What does this mean? First assuming the School District does not appeal (or that the Appeals Court rebuffs any such appeal), in the fall of 2016 Palm Lane Elementary will re-open under Charter School management rather than under the failed management of the Anaheim City School District, its Board of Trustees and their union partners. I should note at this juncture that Palm Lane Elementary has been on a “failing school” list for over TEN years. If the District had not denied the parents’ petitions on February 19th, Palm Lane would have opened as a public charter school this fall. But due to the District’s delays, including filing a lawsuit against the lead parents, the children of Palm Lane Elementary must live with another year of poor performance and mismanagement. A year of their education they can never get back.
Space here does not allow me to go into details about the manner in which the District handled this affair (which is likely not over yet) but it is telling that Judge Banks stated in his ruling: “I find the rejection [of the petitions] to be procedurally unfair, unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious.” By rejection he was referring to the District’s February 19th decision. By this finding and statement the Judge was not just finding that the District was wrong but that their actions were anything but the “cooperative working with the parents” the Judge ruled the law required. In the Judge’s words: “Clearly, the Respondents [the District] did not meet their obligations of good faith cooperation with respect to this issue and as mandated by the Act. [the Parent Trigger Law].” [additions mine].
As one example the Judge noted that Dr. Linda Wagner, Anaheim City School District’s Superintendent, did not know even on the day she testified in Court who the lead Petitioners were (i.e. the Lead Parents who submitted the Petitions to convert Palm Lane to a public charter school). He also noted that the author of the Parent Trigger Law, former State Senator Gloria Romero, issued a letter to the District offering to assist the District in coordinating with the lead Parents who Sen. Romero was working with, and the District NEVER RESPONDED TO THAT LETTER. Since Dr. Wagner authorized the District’s attorney to file a lawsuit against those very parents (who they specifically named in the lawsuit) a couple of months prior to the trial, in my opinion either she was willfully ignorant or incredibly disingenuous.
It is said that elections have consequences. I hope this trial court ruling has election consequences to the Board of Trustees of the Anaheim City School District. The parents and children of that District deserve better!
Kudos to the legal team of Kirkland & Ellis who represented the parents and Gloria Romero’s organization in the lawsuits, to the California Policy Center, Inc., Arturo Garcia, the lead parents and their supporters and a lot of others I do not have space here to list who also supported the parents. Mega Kudos to Senator Gloria Romero for her unwavering support of the parents both in being the Parent Trigger Law author but even after leaving the legislature, helping the very people she wrote the law for!
Note: I call the charter school a “public charter school” because a charter school is still a public school, just one that is not dominated by public employee unions.
Posted in Anaheim City School District | Tagged: Arturo Garcia, California Policy Center, Judge Andrew Banks, Kirkland & Ellis, Linda Wagner, Palm Lane Elementary School, Parent Empowerment Act, Parent Trigger Law, Public Charter Schools, Senator Gloria Romero | 3 Comments »
Posted by Craig P. Alexander on April 12, 2015
In California State Court trial judges must stand for election every six years. Whenever judges appear on the ballot I have a vast number of friends ask me which judges to vote for and which judges to vote against. Even lawyers like myself don’t always know a judge’s record on the trial court bench since their decisions are not often printed in the newspaper or on legal search engines like Lexus or West Law. Thus it makes it hard to evaluate if the judge’s record is good or not.
I am much more likely to give a judge my vote on re-election even if I don’t agree with all of their decisions. Being a judge is not an easy task and they work very hard to be fair to all sides in the cases before them. They also have to handle far more cases than each of them should have too due to severe budget constraints imposed by Sacramento and limits on the number of judicial appointments which often lag far, far behind the actual need. Plus keep in mind that the reason a case is in front of the judge in the first place is at least two parties are in disagreement and the judge (and often a jury) is called upon to decide between them. That often means someone is a winner and the other party is the loser. This is the judge’s job: to preside over a conflicted situation that he or she did not create. But it is their job to make the tough decisions each day. For these reasons I admire judges for the often difficult work they do.
However there are exceptions to this general rule and the recent sentencing of a confessed child rapist by Judge M. Marc Kelly is one of those examples. I do not know if Judge Kelly found the rapist guilty of his crime, if a jury did that or if the rapist confessed and plead guilty, but it is the judge who decides the sentence for the convicted criminal to serve. It is the sentence, handed down by Judge Kelly, of this rapist of a three year old to only 10 years in prison rather than 25 years to life that shocks people in our community (and apparently the nation).
The Orange County Register has been following this situation and has published its own editorial calling for Judge Kelly to resign or be recalled. Here is the link to that editorial: Time to Leave the Bench. This follows Supervisors Todd Spitzer, Lisa Bartlett and Shawn Nelson calling on the judge to resign or be recalled.
I think the Supervisors are right to call for a recall for this simple reason: Rather than wait until Judge Kelly would normally stand for re-election, let him now, while the issue is very much before the people via the news media, explain to the voters who are tasked with electing or re-electing him, why this sentence was legal and proper. Then let the voters render their verdict!
Posted in Orange County Board of Supervisors, Uncategorized | Tagged: Judge M. Marc Kelly, Orange County Superior Court, Recall election, Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, Supervisor Shawn Nelson, Supervisor Todd Spitzer | 8 Comments »
Posted by Craig P. Alexander on March 15, 2015
This question is asked (and often answered in the negative) a lot on social media when people are either trying to judge the President’s actions and decisions or sometimes when they are expressing their frustration with him. My normal response to this type of question is I don’t know because I am not the judge of President Obama’s heart – that is God’s job not mine.
David French has written an insightful article about this subject in the National Review entitled (the title is a link to the article) “Is Obama Really A Christian?” I found his article well thought out, respectful and helpful in understanding this President’s decision making. Is Mr. French correct – well only God knows! I commend the article to you.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: David French, National Review, President Obama | 2 Comments »
Posted by Craig P. Alexander on March 11, 2015
People who know me know I am a BIG fan of Governor Scott Walker. I had the honor of meeting Gov. Walker last Monday night (3/9/15).
For so many reasons I admire him and hope he is our next President of the United States. The biggest reason I like him is he and his fellow Republicans in Wisconsin actually won the Governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative bodies then actually did what they campaigned on instead of “playing it safe.” In my opinion the reforms they passed have made Wisconsin a much better place to live, work and start a business. Plus this Governor has taken on the special interests in his state (mostly the labor unions) three times and best them three times so he has proven he is up for a fight politically.
Jon Fleischman of the Flashreport.org did an excellent interview with which is at Breitbart California Interview: Governor Scott Walker. In this interview Gov. Walker, in a few words, lays out why he and his fellow Republicans did what they did in Wisconsin right after they were elected rather than kicking the can down the road. He did what I had hoped President George W. Bush would have done when he was elected with Republican majorities in the House and Senate.
While I know Washington, D.C. is not Wisconsin, I believe Gov. Walker, if he becomes President Walker, and has Republican majorities in Congress will demand and lead for change in the federal government towards limited government, more power to the states (and the people) and away from Washington and strengthen our position in the world. In brief, it is obvious to me Gov. Walker believes in American Exceptionalism.
Kudos to Jon Fleischman for this interview and I highly commend it to you.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: FlashReport, Gov. Scott Walker, Jon Fleischman | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Craig P. Alexander on March 10, 2015
Chris Nguyen reported a few days ago that San Juan Capistrano City Councilman Sam Allevato announced his resignation from the City Council [San Juan Capistrano: Where…]. Apparently Councilman Allevato is having second thoughts about pulling that trigger according to the OC Register [San Juan Capistrano councilman reconsiders resignation].
Although Mr. Allevato lost very badly in the last election (all of his supporters on the council were voted “off the island” so to speak) and he now finds himself at the minority end of some 4 to 1 votes, I can understand having won several elections not wanting to just throw in the towel and walk away.
I would recommend to Mr. Allevato that if he decides to stay on the City Council, he consider that after being in the majority for so long, the voters of his town decided to make some changes – they want the city to go in a different direction than when his group was in the majority. He should consider that the concerns of the citizens of the City of San Juan Capistrano have expressed via the last election are something he should give some legitimacy too. I am not saying Mr. Allevato (or anyone else) should throw away his convictions or that he should pander for votes / support on issues he does not believe in.
But as the saying goes “elections have consequences” and being in the minority is not as fun as being in the majority. However it is the current reality of his council and he should at the very least consider extending the olive branch to his fellow city council members – and they should do the same.
Posted in San Juan Capistrano, Uncategorized | Tagged: Sam Allevato | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Craig P. Alexander on March 10, 2015
As follow up to my last post on Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’ attempt to hinder the audit of the Great Park finances [To San Diego Legislators], the OC Register has a follow up article that implicates Gafcon, Inc. in a potential conflict of interest situation.
Apparently, per the new article, during the deposition of former Irvine Mayor Sukee Kang he disclaimed any knowledge that during the planning of the Great Park, “…Stu Mollrich, a partner in public relations firm Forde & Mollrich, a Great Park subcontractor that answered to the Great Park Design Studio, a collaboration between Gafcon and landscape architect Ken Smith….”, that Mollrich had hired Gafcon to oversee the remodeling of Mollrich’s Laguna Beach home. Mr. Kang expressed surprise at this information as did City Manager Sean Joyce who noted that Great Park Design Studio was supposed to oversee the work of Forde & Mollrich on the Great Park project.
It would appear that Gafcon, Inc. and Forde & Mollrich both neglected to inform the City of Irvine of this arrangement during the time they were working on the Great Park project. Was this a reportable conflict of interest that the City should have been informed of? I do not know but this certainly does not pass the smell test of arms length transactions for the benefit of Orange County and Irvine taxpayers on the Great Park project.
If you wish to read the latest article go to Great Park contractors….
The more layers of this onion get pealed back, the more it smells of cronyism and a massive waste of taxpayer funds. Yet more evidence that Assemblywoman Gonzalez and the other San Diego legislators should simply BUTT OUT of this very needed audit.
Kudos to the City of Irvine council majority Mayor Steven Choi and council members Jeffery Lalloway, Christina Shea and Lynn Schott for continuing with the audit. The people of Orange County and Irvine deserve answers regarding the Great Park finances.
Posted in Irvine, Uncategorized | Tagged: Christina Shea, Forde & Mollrich, Gafcon, Great Park Design Studio, Jeffery Lalloway, Lynn Schott, Mayor Steven Choi, OC Register, San Diego Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, Sean Joyce, Stu Mollrich, Sukee Kang | 1 Comment »
Posted by Craig P. Alexander on March 5, 2015
A massive capitulation by the Republican leadership in the House and Senate! Of course I am referring passage of the “clean” bill to fully fund the Department of Homeland Security through September. Keep in mind the defunding of the unconstitutional executive orders on immigration of just the Department of Homeland Security was the Republican leadership’s idea in the first place!
Now the Republican leadership is blaming conservative members of their own party for “threatening” to defund DHS.
1. Why bother to take a stand if you will abandon that stand when the going gets tough?
2. Why should the conservative members of the House and Senate believe their “leadership” if they cave in and pull the rug out from under them even on the leadership’s own plans to confront a President who believes the Constitution is not binding on him.
3. Why should those same House and Senate members believe these “leaders” when they not only abandon their own plans but try to pin the “blame” on the conservatives for standing up for the Constitution?
4. Why should we rank and file Republicans believe the leadership when they tell us anything?
Jim DeMint of the Heritage Foundation has an article on this issue that is well stated and I commend it to you [Daily Signal].
Posted in 38th Congressional District, 39th Congressional District, 45th Congressional District, 46th Congressional District, 47th Congressional District, 48th Congressional District, 49th Congressional District, Republican Central Committee, Uncategorized | Tagged: Congress, GOP, GOP Leadership, Heritage Foundation, Senator Jim DeMint, Senator Mitch McConnell, Speaker John Boehner, U.S. Senate | 1 Comment »