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Savanna School District: Where Elections Go to Die

Posted by Chris Nguyen on August 7, 2014

Savanna School District Board Members Linda Weinstock, Carol Sundman, Chris Brown, John Shook, and Ed Erdtsieck

Savanna School District Board Members Linda Weinstock (R), Carol Sundman (R), Chris Brown (D), John Shook (D), and Edward Erdtsieck (NPP)

I was checking on candidate filing and saw that in the Savanna School District, only the three incumbents: Edward Erdtsieck (NPP), Linda Weinstock (R), and John Shook (D) have pulled (and filed) papers for the ballot.  No challengers have pulled papers.  Ordinarily, this is no big deal, as periodically, school districts and special districts will have unopposed incumbents.  Typically in cases of unopposed incumbents (or unopposed candidates), school district and special districts will cancel the election and declare the unopposed people elected.  However, I wondered how long it had been since the last election in the Savanna School District.

There has not been an election for school board members in the Savanna School District in 20 years!  Yes, that’s right: the last election for school board members in the Savanna School District was in 1994.  The median tenure for board member is currently 24 years:

  • Edward Erdtsieck (NPP), 78, of Buena Park: Board Member since 1986
  • Chris Brown (D), 65, of Buena Park: Board Member since 1988
  • Linda Weinstock (R), 57, of Buena Park: Board Member since 1990
  • Carol Sundman (R), 81, of Anaheim: Board Member since 1999
  • John Shook (D), 52, of Anaheim: Board Member since 2011, but his late predecessor, Patrick Ochoa, was on the Savanna Board for 43 years from 1968 until his death in 2011

I’m not one of the people who believes every incumbent must be opposed every election, but really, 20 years without an election?

Challengers have until 5 PM on Friday to file at the Registrar of Voters office at 1300 S. Grand Ave., Bldg. C, Santa Ana, CA 92705. There are no nomination signatures required.  There is no filing fee to appear on the ballot, and it only costs $605 to for a candidate’s statement in the sample ballot sent to all active registered voters.

In 1994, Dana Adams unsuccessfully challenged Erdtsieck, Weinstock, and Ochoa.  There was no election in 1992.  You have to go back to 1990 to find the last time an incumbent lost a re-election bid in Savanna: Erdtsieck and Ochoa were re-elected while Weinstock defeated incumbent Linda McGoldrick.

The last election with more than one challenger was in 1988: Chris Brown and Gary Roger Fite defeated Gary Krieger.  A fourth candidate, Frances Ruble, was unsuccessful in her bid for the Board.  Incumbent Art Brown (D) retired (though he would return to politics in 1990 for the first of his six terms on the Buena Park City Council), and Chris Brown is Art Brown’s wife.

The Savanna School District consists of four elementary schools: Cerritos, Hansen, Holder, and Reid.  All of the district’s students go on to Anaheim Union High School District schools for junior high school and high school.  Most go on to Orangeview Jr. High and Western High, with a handful going on to Lexington Jr. High and Cypress High or Dale Jr. High and Magnolia High.  Ironically, the attendance area for AUHSD’s Savanna High School does not include any portion of the Savanna School District.

There are approximately 10,300 registered voters in the Savanna School District, with 4,500 in Anaheim, 3,500 in Stanton, 1,300 in Cypress, and 1,000 in Buena Park.

Surely there is someone among those 10,300 voters who is willing to challenge the entrenched incumbents.  With such a tiny district, a grassroots campaign could be successfully waged in this small place.  Voter turnout in November will be approximately 4,400 voters in 3,100 homes in 16 precincts.  A candidate could reach all of these voters by hitting just 36 homes per day if they start on Saturday.  Or walking one precinct per day, a candidate could cover the entire district in just over 2 weeks or 8 weekends (there’s 10 weekends left before the first absentee ballots arrive).  Even at half a precinct per day, a candidate could cover the entire district in just over a month.  Chances are that a challenger wouldn’t even have to cover the entire district to garner enough votes to win.  The incumbents have virtually no name ID since they a) are incumbents in an incredibly low-profile school district and b) haven’t been on the ballot (Shook) or haven’t been on the ballot in at least 24 years (Weinstock and Erdtsieck).

The Savanna School District was featured in the Grand Jury report, “School Bonds – The Untold Story of Assessed Values” issued in June.  The Grand Jury called for Savanna’s consolidation into another school district in “Orange County School Districts: Dire Financial Futures” also issued in June.  It passed two bonds: Measure N in November 2008 and Measure G in June 2012.  They are at 182% of the bonded indebtedness limit.  While four other school districts exceed 50% of their bonded indebtedness limits (Anaheim City, Cypress, Westminster, and Santa Ana Unified), Savanna is the only one in excess of 100%.  Savanna had to obtain a special waiver from the State Board of Education to exceed the bonded indebtedness limit.

The Savanna School District is roughly between Beach Blvd. and Holder St. and between Orange Ave. and Katella Ave., plus a small portion of the City of Stanton between Court Ave. and Beach Blvd. and between Pacific St. and Katella Ave.  Here’s the exact map from the Savanna School District:

Savanna School District Map

Savanna School District Map

 

Posted in Savanna School District | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Abortion: Yeah, Let’s go there.

Posted by Brenda McCune on August 1, 2014

No one wants to talk about it.  No one.  Well maybe a few people.

The people that are often considered the fringe.  Those who are willing to stand on the street corners or outside Planned Parenthood clinics with posters depicting bloody aborted fetuses.  The ones who believe that since deadly force can be a response to deadly force that it’s okay to bomb abortion clinics or kill doctors who perform them because in God’s eyes, abortion is murder.  These people believe they are licensed, usually through their relationship with Jesus Christ and knowledge of the holy scriptures, empowered to deliver this judgment and condemnation to those participating in the murder of unborn fetuses.  

Of course there’s another side.

There are the ones who wear tampons as earrings, proclaim their God given right to have an employer or educational institution pay for their birth control.  These are the same people who want to rant and rail against the “establishment” that is holding women back.  They opine that a woman’s body is her own and by all means, she should have “Access” (and by access they usually mean, without paying for) an abortion under any circumstances at anytime.  After all, it is “her” body and the fetus is merely a parasitic organism that can not exist without it’s host.  

Most human beings do not identify with either of these perspectives, yet these are the two schools of thought that dominate the debate.  Unless and until the reasonable humans in the midst of these competing ideals, start thinking and speaking, and voting, we will continue to have these viceral and pointless oppositions dominating our political landscape and we, yes all of us are the problem, WE will continue to experience recurring, abhorrent events and places like the Kermit Gosnell house of abortion horrors.  There is no one that thinks that was a good place or process for women or children and BOTH SIDES blame the other side for creating an environment surrounding abortion that such a place evolved into existence.  They are right, BOTH side are to blame for the development of such a place that atrocities could occur, but they miss the real point,  You and I, those of us in the middle, we are ALSO to blame. Our inaction, our silence, our failure to speak our mind, to donate to charitable organizations who help women with unplanned pregnancies and for voting without being informed.  

The business of abortion, contrary to what you might believe, is not just the business of performing abortions.  The big money is in the debate.  Most of the money, and there is a lot of it, raised by the “Pro-Life” movement, goes into political campaigns.  Not to unwed mothers, not to homeless or poor women or children, not to orphanages or adoption agencies, but to politicians.  There are watch groups who track the voting of politicians once they are elected with their Pro-Life platform and Pro-Life Money, to make sure they are holding the line on Pro-Life Issues.  Not to diminish the importance of knowing what politicians are doing after they are elected, and knowing their views before they are elected, but the magnitude of the money invested in this process has become largely disproportional to the actual effect.

It is utterly ineffective and I can assure you, that politicians, the funds and the litmus test have saved exactly zero babies.  The same could be said of the bloody poster boards.

Let’s refresh our memories.  Jesus said of the commandments, the “greatest of these is love” and that they will “know us by our love”.

While we on the right, rant and rave about smaller government and protect our rights to own guns and worship and travel and vote, we jump up and down and ask the government, manipulate and control and attempt to influence the government, to tell women what they can or can’t do with their bodies.  While at the same time we ignore the obvious answer.  If it really is our mandate from God, why are we not going to God with this?  Why do we continue to seek and pursue with great vim and vigor a legislative solution to an issue of morality?  Who is it that has lost it’s moral compass in this debate?  I beg for you to consider that we all have. 

As we strive, from whatever side you find yourself on, passionate that women much be protected and advocated for, or that the immorality of abortion must be stopped, it is essentially a value based judgment, and a value based decision when an individual is faced with it.

Outlawing abortion is not the answer.  Nor will it EVER, yes I said, EVER occur in this country.  Please feel free to learn something about Supreme Court Jurisprudence and let’s start fighting a good fight.

What if we start respecting the law as it exists.  What if we started (both sides) respecting the views of the other, and PRAYING for them, that they would know God’s love, have the respect that we have for Human life, and personal bodily integrity (WHATever side you find yourself on).

The answer, as we keep saying with health care and immigration and so many other issues these days, is NEVER MORE GOVERNMENT.  Yet we take this issue and do an about face and cry out for MORE government intervention, regulation and restriction.

Let go and let God.  What if we tried that.  What if we took seriously the Great Commission and carried the message of God’s Love instead of being messengers of condemnation, because I’ve never found “carry forth my condemnation” spoken by Jesus or any of his Apostles, and in case you haven’t noticed, the Pro-Life movement has not made much headway in “outlawing” abortion.

Children and their mothers need the love and support that the religious right purports to stand on.  There is a better way to deliver and convey that than what we have been doing.  We need to seek and find that better way.  

Or we could debate and fight about it for another few years, while more babies die and more women are traumatized and another Kermit Gosnell rises up.  The time has come to re-think everything.  

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Termed Out City Councilmembers Eyeing School and Water Boards

Posted by Chris Nguyen on July 30, 2014

In the era of term limits, many City Councilmembers run for higher office while others seek to extend their political lives by running for lower office.  As we peer into candidate filing, there are at least three City Councilmembers are exercising the option to do the latter.

La Palma City Councilman Henry Charoen, Garden Grove City Councilwoman Dina Nguyen, and Newport Beach City Councilwoman Leslie Daigle

La Palma City Councilman Henry Charoen, Garden Grove City Councilwoman Dina Nguyen, and Newport Beach City Councilwoman Leslie Daigle

  • La Palma City Councilman Henry Charoen has pulled (and filed) papers for the Centralia School District
  • Garden Grove City Councilwoman Dina Nguyen has pulled papers for Orange County Water District, Division 1
  • Newport Beach City Councilwoman Leslie Daigle has pulled papers for Orange County Water District, Division 5

Charoen and the Centralia School District

Charoen (R) is prepared for this campaign for Centralia School District, transferring nearly $30,000 into his school board account from his Assembly account after he opted not to seek the AD-65 seat.  $30,000 pays for a lot of voter contact in a district as tiny as Centralia, plus he has significant name ID in the La Palma portion of Centralia.  He also teaches at UCI.  At this point, Charoen is the only one who has actually filed.

Incumbent Lisa Jordan (R) has pulled papers, as has appointed incumbent Kevin Sequeira (R).  73-year-old incumbent Irv Trinkle (R) has not pulled papers, and I’ve heard conflicting rumors about him, with some saying he’s retiring and others saying he’s running for re-election (Trinkle’s campaign web site was last updated in the spring).

Former Centralia Board Member Art Montez (D) pulled papers for both Centralia and the Buena Park Library District.  Jordan beat Montez by 64 votes in 2010 when Montez was an incumbent.  Montez lost by 5% in 2012 in an unsuccessful bid to return to the Board.  If Montez files and loses for a third consecutive time, he risks going from former Board member to perennial Board candidate.  He has to either sit this one out or win his old seat back in order to avoid that fate.  He probably shouldn’t file for both the Centralia School District and the Buena Park Library District, lest he suffer the fate of former Water Board Director Douglas Chapman, who lost both races when he ran for two seats in 2012.

Though an experienced field of elected officials have pulled papers in Centralia, the first person who pulled papers was 20-year-old Chapman University student Connor Traut (D) who moved to Anaheim a few months ago from Ladera Ranch, where he was a member of the Ladera Ranch Civic Council.  Traut is an acolyte of Anaheim Councilman Jordan Brandman (D).  (Brandman allies seem to be popping up in different Anaheim school board seats, as D.R. Heywood (D) has pulled papers in the Anaheim City School District.)

Nguyen and Orange County Water District Division 1

Nguyen (R) appears to be unopposed for the Division 1 seat in the Orange County Water District.

In total, the OCWD Board has ten members: seven directly-elected and three appointed by City Councils (Anaheim, Fullerton, and Santa Ana). Incumbent Kay Barr is the only directly-elected Democrat on the OCWD Board.  The other six directly-elected members are Republicans.  Of the three appointed positions, Anaheim appointed Harry Sidhu (R), Fullerton appointed Jan Flory (D), and Santa Ana appointed Vincent Sarmiento (D).

Barr is retiring, and Nguyen is the only candidate who has pulled papers.  Dina Nguyen made an ill-fated bid for Orange County Supervisor against Janet Nguyen (R) in 2008.  Barr and both Nguyens served on the Garden Grove City Council: Barr from 1962-1970 and 1974-1978, Janet Nguyen from 2004-2007, and Dina Nguyen from 2006-present.  Barr has been an OCWD Board Member since 1979.  At 35 years, Barr’s exit ends the longest tenure by a single person in the 81-year history of OCWD.

(For the record, I am not related to either Dina Nguyen or Janet Nguyen.  The last name Nguyen is held by 36% of Vietnamese people.)

Daigle and Orange County Water District Division 5

Daigle (R) is challenging incumbent Orange County Water Board Member Steve Sheldon (R).  Sheldon was appointed to the OCWD Board in 2005 and won 71% of the vote in his 2006 bid for a full term against termed out Newport Beach City Councilman Tod Ridgeway (R).  Presumably, Daigle does not plan to suffer the same fate as Ridgeway.  She does have significantly higher name ID than Ridgeway did thanks in part to her ill-fated run for AD-74 when she challenged Allan Mansoor in 2012.  She fared slightly better in OCWD Division 5 than in the rest of the district, winning 25.3% of the vote (as opposed to her districtwide total of 23.8%).

Posted in Centralia School District, Garden Grove, La Palma, Newport Beach, Orange County Water District | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Why We’ve Been So Quiet Lately at OC Political…

Posted by Chris Nguyen on July 30, 2014

So, I’ve had lots of people ask me why OC Political has been so quiet since the primary.  Questions have run the gamut. “Is there just nothing going on?”  “Is candidate filing just boring this year?”  “Have you been sued?”  “Did you all quit simultaneously?”  “Did you unionize and declare a writer’s strike?”  “Are you on summer vacation?”  “Did everyone lose their passwords?”

It’s none of those things, and I think this screenshot from the “Recent Documents” menu of Microsoft Word on my computer will explain why we’ve been so quiet:

Ballot Statements Galore

Every one of those files is in a separate folder for a different candidate or ballot measure.  There’s others beyond those on that list, but there’s a limit to how many recent documents that Microsoft Word will display.

If we were objective journalists, we’d be covering all the news in filing and not involved in any of it.  However, we’re not objective journalists. It’s well-known that every blogger on OC Political is an activist, consultant, vendor, staffer, and/or elected official.  Not only are we trying to get people elected, but we have multiple bloggers considering (or already launching) their own bids for office on the November ballot.  Over the past 2.5 years this blog has been around, our bloggers have been told from time to time to “put up or shut up.”  Well, we put up.

Candidate filing opened just over two weeks ago and closes a week from Friday (extended filing closes two weeks from today), plus campaign finance reports from the end of the primary are due tomorrow.  We’ve got a lot of documents with legal deadlines right now.

I’m not complaining, just explaining, and I certainly welcome the business.  In the June 2014 primary, the voters were very good to Custom Campaigns (the firm that owns this blog) and to the activists who blog on OC Political.  That success translates to a very busy general election.  However, it also means the blog has been neglected.  We’re figuring out how to rebalance things, and soon, blogging should return to normal levels.

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U.S. Congressional Candidate Mia Love Visits the Lincoln Club in Orange County

Posted by Walter Myers III on July 19, 2014

MiaLove_16-240x300It was truly a privilege, inspirational, and wholly refreshing experience to meet U.S. Congress hopeful Ludmya Bourdeau “Mia” Love this week when she visited the Lincoln Club in Orange County. As you may recall, Mia was a relative unknown who lost to Democrat Jim Matheson in Utah’s 4th congressional district in 2012 by just 768 votes. Mia is back again in 2014, and I couldn’t be more pleased as it is people such as Mia that give me hope for the Republican Party and even more, hope for our country that if we put the right leaders in place we can change government for the better. Mia is the child of Haitian immigrants who came legally to the United States with virtually nothing, but took full advantage of the American dream. Their attitude was not to come looking to the government for anything, but simply looking to prosper and give back to a country that provided them with the opportunities they were denied in their own home country. Mia’s parents instilled in her an attitude of hard work, personal responsibility, and love of country, which she has demonstrated in her own career, in her time as City Council member and Mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, and has passed on to her own children.

Mia has an impressive record of achievement as a council member and Mayor, known for cutting taxes, expenses, and putting her city on a sound financial footing while serving as Mayor. Mia told a compelling story of the building of a library that highlights her refreshing view on how government is supposed to work. Some residents of Saratoga Springs wanted a library with the usual story about how great it would be and how many people it would serve. Before committing any public funds, however, Mia asked the library supporters to demonstrate just how much the community wanted a new library. The community came together, putting on bake sales and various kinds of rallies, raising all of the money needed to build the library with no public funds. You see this rarely, as most politicians (including some Republicans here in Orange County) seize on every opportunity to use public funds to “do something for the people” instead of being prudent with taxpayer money and challenging all efforts to take hard earned money out of people’s pockets. Granted, Saratoga Springs had only a population of 21,000 as of 2012, but the principles of fiscal constraint and limited government stand no matter what the population. If a politician doesn’t believe in limited government at the City Council level, they certainly won’t believe in it as they move to the state and federal levels where there is even greater impetus to spend other people’s money. This quality is imperative and Mia certainly possesses it.

Mia is a black woman who fully embraces and values what she is, but she will not allow others to place her in any predefined categories about what a black woman should be or do. Mia forcefully argued how the “hope and change” that Barack Obama promised was nothing more than a false campaign promise. While Obama believes that more and bigger government can make people’s lives better, Mia argues that the best government is the most local government. First, the federal government has limits as imposed by the Constitution, yet involves itself in things it was not designed to do and simply cannot do effectively. That’s why we have so much debt that we are passing on to the next generation. Second, when government does things for people that they can and should do for themselves, people lose the incentive to make their own lives better through self-reliance and thus become more dependent on government. Third, when you look at situations where people’s lives are actually made better, you see this at the local level where people are using their own resources and meeting each other at the point of need. To the degree that government is limited, those resources can stay local and be used locally to make people’s lives better, instead of being funneled up to a fat, bloated bureaucracy that cares little about how people’s hard earned money is spent since they are so far away from everyday problems.

So Mia gets it right, while Obama gets it totally wrong. But it’s not just Obama. It’s the other socialist/Marxist Democrats and unfortunately, many establishment Republicans. That’s why we desperately need a new generation of leadership that respects the Constitution and truly believes in limited federal government (i.e., giving the power the federal government has already unconstitutionally amassed back to the people). Mia would have a few like-minded colleagues in Congress such as Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, but what I think is unique about her is her method of communication. Mia recognizes, as I have been arguing for some time, that the biggest problem with Republican politicians is communication. Regretfully, most Republicans today in Washington, D.C. can’t communicate well enough to defend almost any policy position. What we hear are lots of numbers and statistics about debt and deficits, but most American people can’t translate that into something that is meaningful to their lives. That’s why Democrats have effectively brought the “War on Women” back this campaign cycle and Republicans have no idea how to respond. What Mia brings is a personal touch to her communication looking to speak to people’s hearts, and she only then goes after the mind once she has their attention to explain why a particular conservative policy will make their lives better. In so doing, that policy will not be what the government can do for a given person, but how the government can facilitate them doing for themselves at the most local level. Though Mia didn’t mention the term, it’s the powerful Catholic principle of subsidiarity. This principle holds that nothing should be done by a larger and more complex organization which can be done as well by a smaller and simpler organization. It particularly applies to government as a bulwark against centralized bureaucracy and tyranny.

I am supporting Mia and I hope you will take a look at her candidacy and support her as well. The incumbent Jim Matheson is not running again so she is the favorite to win. Nonetheless, while her fundraising has been outstanding, she needs much more support to ensure victory in November. Aside from the fact that she would be the first black Republican woman ever elected to the U.S. Congress, which is historical, what should get you really excited are her conservative principles, her energy, and her excellent ability to communicate which will be critical to growing the reach of the Republican Party. Mia breaks all of the stereotypes, and my hope is that she will break the mold of what the Republican Party looks like when she steps into Congress in January 2015 representing Utah’s 4th Congressional District. But not only is she representing Utah, she’s also representing the hopes and dreams of all of the grassroots conservatives who are clamoring for change in Washington. Ludmya Bourdeau “Mia” Love, I believe, will do just that and pave the way for a new, revitalized, Republican Party. Godspeed to you Mia!

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Unaccompanied Children: Why are they here?

Posted by Brenda McCune on July 18, 2014

“The breakdown of social structures and services accompaying a major crises means that communities and states themselves may not be in a position to provide the necessary protection and care for children without families. it is therefore imperative that humanitarian organizations ensure that the most vulnerable children are protected.”  

(Interagency Guiding Principles on Unaccompanied Children, 2004 report of Displaced Children.

 

So.  How are we doing with that?

 

In 1993 the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-Operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption was concluded.  It was ratified by Guatemala in 2002.   Countries whom are signatories to this convention were required to have a dedicated government agency to handle all international adoptions.  One of the principles underlying this Hague Convention was the theory that it is in the best interests of children to be raised within the culture of their birth.  the problem arises in the blind manner in which that goal is pursued.  UNICEF has been actively involved in and monitoring the progress and implementation of this Hague Convention in countries like Guatemala.

 

In 2007, after pressure from UNICEF, the Guatemalan National Adoptions Board (CNA is the abbreviation of the spanish title)stopped all international adoptions in order to cease the outflow of Guatemalan children to the U.S..  Private adoptions were outlawed, and a moratorium was imposed on international adoptions that remains to this date.  The private intermediaries, lawyers, who arranged and negotiated private international adoptions, were characterized as a large part of the “problem” and were prevented from doing any further adoptions.  All adoptions had to be approved and handled through the governmental agency.  

 

As of an April 2013 report, there are at least 5,800 Guatemalan children whom have been abandoned by their parents and left in institutions, orphanages.  Because of the moratorium, that is where they stay, indefinitely.

 

In Guatemala, re-unificaiton is compulsory.  That means, they search for and find the mother, force her to submit to DNA testing to prove maternity, and compel her to take the child back.  The wishes, or the financial means, of the mother are largely disregarded.  The mothers in the program report being coerced and threatened to take their unwanted children.  The government agency continues the illogical process of compulsory reunification because it crunches their adoption numbers down to satisfy the constant UNICEF monitoring.  The goal of UNICEF is the preserve the children in their home country and culture.   It seem little thought is given the whether that is a culture of abject poverty, starvation, disease, violence and in general marginallization of the health and safety of the children. 

 

Up to the imposition of the  moratorium on international adoptions, it is estimated that 5,000 Guatemalan children were adopted outside the country each year.  With that estimate, and several years now since the imposition of the moratorium, it is hard to believe that the estimate of 5,800 in orphanages now. Still a staggering and heart breaking number. 

 

To serve a goal of cultural preservation, children are being permanently institutionalized, or replaced with parents who did not want them.  Although another stated goal was to eliminate the possibility of sex and slave trade and other abuse of internationally adopted children, it hardly seems this wholesale warehousing of them is the most efficient means to have accomplished the childrens best interests.

 

All of this illuminates the current circumstance and plight of the thousands of unaccompanied children whom have recently flooded across the gossamer southern border of the U.S..

Children who were not available to be adopted by loving families in the U.S., were either warehoused in Central America or returned to parents who did not want or could not care for them, and are now being warehoused here.  Arguably in nicer warehouses, but still herded like cattle, having faced a long uncertain and treacherous journey, all because they or their parents heard and beleived something about a “Dream Act” or a better life north of the border, and because UNICEF and the Hague didn’t want them to miss out on their own culture.

 

The moratorium on International Adoptions has to be stopped.  It is another twist of the chicken or the egg debate, the “secure the border first” or start with “immigration reform”.  The flood will likely continue or surge again.  Why, in the face of the utter failure of the cultural maintenance policy, can UNICEF and the governments not see the obvious answer.  Do something at the source. Lift the moratorium is such a simple and immediate remedy.   Still we must address the situation we are sitting on north of our border now, but we can no longer allow the overwhelming presence of these unaccomplained children to cloud the significant policy flaw, and adopton moratorium that has contributed significantly to the problem.  

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Harris v. Quinn, an Important Limitation on Forced Unionization

Posted by Craig P. Alexander on July 1, 2014

On Monday, June 30, 2014 the United State Supreme Court issued its ruling in the important case of Harris v. Quinn. While the case is limited in its ruling and scope, it is a critical one where the Court boxed in the ever expansionist reach of government employee unions.

Background:

Mrs. Pamela Harris is the mother of a severely disabled adult son who needs constant care due to his disabilities.  A federal Medicaid program funds many state run programs that provides financial assistance by paying caregivers for these individuals who reside at home rather than in a more expensive nursing care facility.  Most often it is a family member who is providing this care and who is being paid to do so under this program.  The State of Illinois has such a program and by law declared these caregivers to be state employees but without any right to benefits, not subject to any control as to their time, place or methods of provision of care services (and provides that the caregiver is solely responsible to and is an at will employee of the customer (the disabled person)) and the State is immune from any liability to the disabled customer for any home caregivers negligence or intentional conduct.

In 2003, first by executive order then legislation, the caregivers were forced to join a union, the SEIU, and pay dues, which the State withheld from their Medicaid payments.  Mrs. Harris and others challenged this forced unionization via this case.  She lost at the federal trial court and intermediate appeals court levels with those courts relying on a past U.S.S.C. court case Abood v. Detroit Bd. Of Ed. 431 U.S. 209 (1977).  The Supreme Court, noting the importance of the factual situation described above, ruled in Mrs. Harris favor.

Limited Ruling:

The Court (Justice Alito) performed a detailed analysis of the reasoning behind the Abood case, which upheld the unionization of full time government employees (there teachers) who were directly the employees of the Board of Education.   Justice Alito and the rest of the majority found that full time direct state employees are vastly different factually to what I would call akin to in-home independent contractors and limited the extent of the Abood ruling to full time direct government employees.  Further to extend the finding in Abood upholding required union membership (or agency fee paying) to this situation was a reach to far.  The Court stated:

“If we allowed Abood to be extended to those who are not full-fledged public employees, it would be hard to see

just where to draw the line, and we therefore confine Abood’s reach to full-fledged state employees.”

Once the Court found the holding in Abood was not controlling in this situation, it then did an analysis of the facts of this situation under “generally applicable First Amendment standards.”  Relying on cases like Knox v. Service Employees 567 U.S. ___ , 132 S. Ct. 2277 (2012), the Court ruled that the justification of preventing “free riders” benefiting from union negotiations for its members applying to those not paying for union dues / expenses, did not apply in the context of the Harris facts (in-home workers as described above).

Once again, the Court noted several significant differences between the regular full time government employee and the in-home caregivers the Illinois statute attempted to force unionization upon.   For example, one justification cited by the unions is “labor peace” in not having conflicting unions vying for membership in the same union shop locations.  The Court noted that in-home caregivers are not in one place but always in the customers’ homes (which are often the caregivers homes’ as well).  Space does not permit me to go through all of the Court’s reasoning here.  The Court ordered that union dues and agency fees can no longer be withheld from a home caregivers’ Medicaid payments if they object.

Implications from this Ruling:

1. The Court effectively blocked forced government unionization of recipients of funds under government programs like Medicaid where the person receiving the payments is not a true “government” worker where the state agency controls the time, method and means of employment.   This is especially true where the legislature declares the “employee” is not entitled to any typical government employee benefits like pension rights.  The Court was very specific about the limited nature of the “employment” between the State of Illinois and the home caregiver.

2. The Harris decision is not banning forced union membership (or agency payments to a union by those who do not join the union) for traditional full time government workers such as public school teachers, CHP officers, firefighters, etc.   This is not a “right to work” decision for all government employees.

3. However, a close reading of the Harris majority’s analysis of the Abood decision notes the current majority’s concerns that the policy and practical implications of Abood’s approval of closed shop laws for government employees.  Thus the majority justices may be open to a challenge from a more traditional full time government employee.

4. Elections matter – the Harris decision and the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case (both critically important First Amendment cases decided on the same day) were five to four votes that included the swing vote of Justice Kennedy.  All of the four “liberal” justices voted in the dissent to uphold the forced unionization of the home caregivers in Harris (and to deny religious expression as argued in the Hobby Lobby case).  Thus the outcomes of the elections in the fall for control of the U.S. Senate and the White House in 2016 are critical as the make up of the Court could be the deciding factor on these important issues one way or another in the near future.

To read the Court’s opinion go to: (Harris v. Quinn).

*   *   *

 Craig P. Alexander, Esq. is an attorney at law who practices in the area of insurance coverage, construction defect, business dispute and general civil litigation.  His office is in Dana Point, California. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Lisa Bartlett Attacks Robert Ming With False “Facts”

Posted by Greg Woodard on June 30, 2014

Apparently concerned by Robert Ming’s first place finish in the primary for the Orange County Supervisor race in the Fifth District, Lisa Bartlett has started sending around something titled “Ming’s Dings.”  The first installment calls out Ming for his support last year of a city loan to the new City Manager for him to buy a house in the city.  Unfortunately, Bartlett appears more concerned about casting Ming in a negative light than she does about the actual facts surrounding the loan.  (For the record, I supported Ming in the primary.)

Bartlett falsely claims that the median home price in Laguna Niguel is $300,000 and contrasts that with the $925,000 loan that the City Manager was requesting.  In fact, the median home price in Laguna Niguel is actually much higher at anywhere from $650,000 to over $675,000.  Bartlett also falsely states that the loan was approved at a below-market interest rate, yet the story cited in Bartlett’s own hit piece states that the City Council (Ming included) voted to require that the interest on the loan be at market rate.  In addition, the City Manager’s loan payments are taken directly from his paycheck and if he ever leaves the city or is terminated, he must sell his house and pay off the loan.  Finally, the hit piece erroneously inflates the City Manager’s salary and benefits by over $215,000.  In fact, the City Manager’s salary and benefits are slightly lower than the average of Orange County city managers, and actually lower than the City Manager in Bartlett’s city, Dana Point (despite Laguna Niguel having almost 30,000 more residents).  It is ironic that Bartlett, a partner at a real estate and investment firm, would not know the median home price in Laguna Niguel.  Even more ironic is the fact that Bartlett would be calling out (falsely) the Laguna Niguel City Manager’s salary and benefits, when her own City Manager’s package is higher.

People can debate the wisdom of a city offering a loan to a City Manager (other cities offer a similar perk).  However, the debate should begin with the real facts, not those embellished by a political foe who is trying to make up ground in advance of the November election.  I trust Bartlett will be issuing a correction any time now.

Posted in 5th Supervisorial District, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Orange County Board of Supervisors | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

Thad Cochran, the GOP Establishment, and Racial Politics

Posted by Walter Myers III on June 29, 2014

CochranIf you weren’t sure who the “establishment” was in the GOP, then if you were following the US Senate primary run-off in Mississippi between incumbent Thad Cochran and Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel, you found out to stunning effect. Sensing his political future was in serious trouble, Cochran, who was supported by the likes of Arizona Senator John McCain, Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, and former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, waged a campaign that stooped to the lowest level of tactics rivaling those of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Cochran, who has been in Washington, D.C. since 1978 (that’s 36 years), did not run as a conservative, but as a big government, pork-barrel senator who brought home the bacon for Mississippi. But that’s not the worst part. The worst part was that he reached out to Democrats, particularly liberal black Democrats, because without them he would have most likely lost. His message was that if the Tea Party candidate won, blacks would lose their welfare benefits and the Tea Party would continue their “disrespectful treatment of the first African-American president.” With friends like Cochran in the GOP, who needs enemies in the Democratic Party?

Ostensibly, the establishment backers felt Cochran had a better chance against the Democrat in November, but was it worth it to violate core principles of conservatism and to even further falsely sully the reputation of the Tea Party caucus, who they might have forgotten are Republicans too? The charges of racism are going to stick to the larger party as well, so Cochran may have done himself a favor but he has done no favors for the party. Perhaps some will view his “outreach” to blacks as a good thing for the GOP, but this wasn’t outreach. It was a bribe. In effect, Cochran told black people that he was going to keep bringing big government benefits to them in Mississippi. He owes them now and they will be looking to cash in. So there are no pretenses now that the supposedly Republican senator will fight for smaller government, against Obama’s socialist agenda, and greater opportunity for blacks. His job is to “bring home the bacon” and support Obama from the attacks of racist Tea Party conservatives. Who would have ever expected the Republican Party would devolve to such a shameful state. But then again, this is politics and politics is all too often about personal survival at the expense of the country and our Constitution. And even more tragic is to see blacks across this country place so much faith in government only to be used as a voting block and forgotten when no longer needed (who are notably much worse off under Obama than Bush). The much needed economic opportunity and chance for upward mobility never seem to arrive, and it will be status quo with Republican Cochran.

Thad Cochran and his ilk, in my view, are fundamentally no different from Democrats. This is precisely why the Tea Party came about, which was to revitalize a once-proud grassroots party that has sadly lost its way. The milquetoast, go along to get along politicians such as Cochran simply don’t share the same core values as the conservative base of the Republican Party. To use blacks in such a manner that he has previously paid no attention to in order to keep what he arguably believes is “his” seat, and to spread falsehoods about his opponent as well as the Tea Party sets a new low for Republican politics. And we didn’t hear any protest from McCain, McConnell, Barbour, or political pundit Karl Rove when this man used racial politics as a tool to win. So you know where their loyalties are in what they obviously see as nothing more than a game of hustle. This just shows you where the party is going and what its leadership is truly like. The Republican leadership doesn’t want to turn this country around from its headlong run into a socialist welfare state. They just want to convince us that they will run the socialist welfare state better than Democrats. So much for bold colors or a vision of a city on the hill. This is the wrong prescription for America, and it is why the Tea Party cannot give up but must continue to fight. What I do hope the Tea Party learns from this is that it needs to actively reach out to minority communities with a message of hope, optimism, and economic opportunity. Minority communities cannot be ignored any longer, and what we have learned from this race is that establishment Republicans will pander to minority communities when it serves their purposes. The Tea Party should be on notice.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »

June 2014 Post-Election Analysis: Lieutenant Governor

Posted by Chris Emami on June 16, 2014

We now move on to the race for Lieutenant Governor which will see former California Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring take on sitting Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom in the November run-off.

The June election was between eight candidates and unfortunately for Republicans Gavin Newsom is teetering close to 50% of the vote despite having one other Democrat on the ballot (ballots are not completely finished being counted).

california_flag

Nehring advances to November after easily finishing ahead of Republicans David Fennell & George Yang. Here are the statewide results on the race:

Candidate Votes Percent
Eric Korevaar (Party Preference: DEM) 224,800
5.5%
* Gavin Newsom (Party Preference: DEM) 2,022,663
49.9%
David Fennell (Party Preference: REP) 348,390
8.6%
Ron Nehring (Party Preference: REP) 949,328
23.4%
George Yang (Party Preference: REP) 324,446
8.0%
Jena F. Goodman (Party Preference: GRN) 94,224
2.3%
Amos Johnson (Party Preference: P&F) 38,307
0.9%
Alan Reynolds (Party Preference: AE) 54,157
1.3%

Turnout in Orange County is slightly concerning if you look at the fact that Newsom finished in first place, However, the vote total for all Republicans in OC totals 56% of the vote and Nehring finished 20% ahead of the closest Republican challenger:

Lieutenant Governor
Completed Precincts: 1856 of 1856
Vote Count Percentage
* GAVIN NEWSOM 110,859 34.7%
RON NEHRING 107,447 33.6%
DAVID FENNELL 41,474 13.0%
GEORGE YANG 31,409 9.8%
ERIC KOREVAAR 15,161 4.7%
JENA F. GOODMAN 5,589 1.7%
ALAN REYNOLDS 5,319 1.7%
AMOS JOHNSON 2,369 0.7%

Despite having multiple Republican opponents Nehring still managed to finish ahead of Newsom in a majority of Orange County cities including Brea, Dana Point, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, La Habra, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Lake Forest, Los Alamitos, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Orange, Placentia, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Villa Park, and Yorba Linda

Statewide though Newsom had a very large advantage geographically. The most shocking thing for me was noticing that Nehring did not come in first in his home county of San Diego:

June_LG_Map_Fixed

The most shocking thing of all though is that Nehring did as well as he did raising only $23,000 for a statewide race and spending even less than that (expenditures are through 5-17-2014):

Consultants $0
Campaign Literature/Mailings $800
Campaign Paraphernalia/Miscellaneous $0
Television/Cable $0

Newsom raised almost ten times as much as Nehring in this period and spent substantially more (expenditures are through 5-17-2014):

Consultants $122,000
Campaign Literature/Mailings $700
Campaign Paraphernalia/Miscellaneous $9,000
Television/Cable $0

Nehring is not one of the Republican candidates that I would say is in great position going forward. Newsom is likely going to campaign extremely hard in order to show strength for 2018 where it is rumored that he might take on Attorney General Kamala Harris for Governor. Newsom did not come anywhere close to the numbers that Jerry Brown had in spite of the fact that Brown faced more opponents and had two better funded challengers.

I am going to vote for Ron Nehring for the good of the Republican Party and because I think he would make a much better Lieutenant Governor than Gavin Newsom. However, this particular seat will be an uphill battle unless Nehring can raise a lot of money going forward.

Posted in California | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

 
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