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Posts Tagged ‘High Speed Rail’

“Bullet” Train Contractor Steals From O.C. Construction Workers, Gets Fined By State

Posted by Dave Everett on June 13, 2013

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We are always told how union special interest deals known as Project Labor Agreements (or PLAs) ensure compliance with labor laws, but as I wrote a few weeks ago, that isn’t true.  Now we find out that the company selected to build the CA High Speed Rail “bullet” train has been hiring subcontractors that steal wages from their workers.  This week, the Tutor Perini Corporation was one of four general contractors issued citations by California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su totaling $748,366. The Labor Commissioner issued citations for public works and labor law violations affecting a total of 89 workers to the general contractors and their subcontractors.

Orange County Public Libraries hired the Tutor Perini Corporation as a prime contractor to construct a new Laguna Niguel branch.  The Labor Commissioner’s investigation found that the proper prevailing wage and overtime rates were not paid to as many as 25 workers. $117,837 in unpaid wages, $30,800 in penalties and $539 in contributions to a DIR-approved training program for the California Apprenticeship Council (CAC) were assessed as a result.

The Tutor Perini Corporation came under fire earlier this year, for submitting a bid for the California High Speed Rail construction that would have been rejected under the original criteria of the project, but HSR Authority officials changed the bid specifications. Critics also point to the appearance of cronyism for the Tutor Perini Corporation for having past connections to the husband of California Senator Diane Feinstein, Richard Blum.  “Blum first became involved with what is now Tutor Perini in 1998 when he joined with Ronald Tutor to help recapitalize the troubled company. He reportedly sold his stock at a substantial profit in 2005.”  Critics of the Blum/Perini connection echo parallel criticisms you hear from the far-left political organizations about Dick Cheney’s affiliation with Halliburton.  They fear past connections will fuel future decisions.

As reported by Ken Broder of  AllGov California (AllGov .com provides up-to-date news about more than 140 departments and agencies in state government, most of which operate under the media radar,) “The staff of the California High-Speed Rail Authority recently recommended that Tutor Perini get the contract because it was the low-bidder, at $995 million, but came under fire because the company had the lowest technical score among the five contractors who bid. It didn’t help that the staff changed the criteria for selecting a winner without board approval. Originally, only companies with the highest technical scores were going to be eligible for the lowest-bid portion of the two-part process.”

So not only is the High Speed Rail limited to only union workers, thereby discriminating against the 8 out 10 construction workers who are not union, but they changed the bid criteria at the 11th hour to make sure a company was awarded the contract who has been caught red handed stealing from the wages of local Orange County construction workers.  

As Governor Jerry Brown’s Labor Commissioner Julie Su put it, “Failure to pay the proper prevailing wage is a form of wage theft. We will crack down on not only the subcontractors who steal workers’ wages and fail to pay apprenticeship training contributions, but also on the general contractors so we put proper incentives on them to deal only with honest, law-abiding businesses in California.”

It is just another in the long list of reasons why this High Speed Rail should not be built.  It is really just a give away to a variety of special interests: Big Labor, Feinstein cronies and even the Mayor of Fresno.  (Check out: Newly Public Documents Reveal Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin Had Key Role in Backroom Scheme for Union-Only Project Labor Agreement on California High-Speed Rail Project.) The Coalition For Fair Employment in Construction (CFEC) theorizes that, “…unions were promising to get the High-Speed Rail Heavy Maintenance Facility in Fresno in exchange for Mayor Swearengin’s help in getting the Project Labor Agreement, in a way that would avoid direct involvement of the California High-Speed Rail Authority.”

Officials like the ex-wife of OC Congressman Alan Lowenthal – Long Beach Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal,  even went so far as to turn off the microphones on ABC and CFEC representatives trying to ask on the record about the discriminatory special interest PLA deal.  Reason TV highlighted the lengths that the “bullet” train supporters will go to avoid public debate on this project.  Despite their efforts, Republican Congressman Jeff Denham was able to give the public a forum to address the concerns with so-called High Speed Rail at a House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials field hearing in Madera last week. The Associated Builders and Contractors submitted a statement for the record in opposition to the union-favoring project labor agreement (PLA) required by the California High Speed Rail Authority. 

  For more on Big Labor’s special interest deal on the HSR, skip to the 1 minute and 45 seconds mark in this NBC News TV report with Associated Builders and Contractors Northern California Chapter Government Affairs Director Nicole Goehring or hear it from former California State Assemblyman from Orange County, Chuck DeVore on FoxNews.

But it is now clear that with or without a PLA, High Speed Rail will have a tough time protecting its workers with a track record like that of Tutor Perini.

Posted in 47th Congressional District, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Field Poll: Brown Tax Leads, Even Split on Munger & Steyer Taxes, High-Speed Rail Decreases Support for Brown Tax

Posted by Chris Nguyen on July 9, 2012

Since you’re reading this post, you obviously passed the test we posted on Friday to avert being knocked off the Internet.

Three tax measures have qualified for the November ballot, sponsored by Governor Jerry Brown, multimillionaire heiress attorney Molly Munger, and billionaire businessman Tom Steyer, respectively.

Ballot Measure Proponents Jerry Brown, Molly Munger, and Tom Steyer

Munger Sues State

The battle between Munger and Brown on ballot measure numbering has a hearing scheduled today at 9:00 AM. (Munger asked the court to delay the hearing for another nine days, stating the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters had refused to supply documents or completely answered questions, but was apparently unsuccessful in getting the delay.)  For more details on the suit, read my post from last Monday (note that on Thursday, the Legislature approved legislation moving the water bond from the 2012 ballot to the 2014 ballot; the water bond would have been Proposition 30 regardless of Munger’s lawsuit, so when reading that post, just remove Proposition 30 and subtract one from the numbering of all the other measures; other than that, everything in the post is still current information).

If Munger prevails, her ballot measure will be Proposition 36 rather than Proposition 38, Brown’s ballot measure will be Proposition 37 rather than Proposition 30, and Steyer’s will be Proposition 38 rather than Proposition 39.  In other words, if Munger prevails, the ballot order will be six other measures, the Munger measure, the Brown measure, the Steyer measure, and two other measures.  If Brown prevails, the ballot order will be the Brown measure, seven other measures, the Munger measure, the Steyer measure, and the Senate redistricting referendum.

Brown’s Income and Sales Tax Increase Measure Leads, But is Threatened by High-Speed Rail

The latest Field Poll finds Governor Jerry Brown’s income and sales tax increase ballot measure leads 54%-38%, with 8% undecided.  (The poll found a similar result in May, with the measure leading 52%-35%, with 13% undecided.)   Brown’s tax increase ballot measure leads among every demographic and geographic group, as well as liberals, moderates, Democrats, and independents.  Only conservatives and Republicans oppose the measure.  However, not all is rosy for the Brown tax increase measure…

21% of the measure’s supporters indicated that they would be less inclined to support the Brown tax increase if the high-speed rail funding bill was approved.  Conversely, only 5% of the measure’s opponents indicated that they would be more inclined to support the Brown tax increase if the high-speed rail funding bill was approved.

(The poll was completed shortly before the Senate passed the high-speed rail funding bill 21-16 on Friday and the Assembly passed the bill 51-27 on Thursday.  Brown is expected to sign the bill this week.)

The high-speed rail bill’s approval may very well endanger Brown’s tax increase initiative.  Ballot measures typically lose support as campaigns wear on, and the high-speed rail may send support for Brown’s tax increase measure under 50%, making it that much more difficult to pass once the campaign season begins in the fall.

Voters Evenly Split on Munger Income Tax Increase Measure

Molly Munger’s income tax increase ballot measure has voters perfectly split, with 46% supporting it and 46% opposing it.

Republicans oppose the Munger income tax increase, Democrats support it, and independents are evenly split.  Conservatives and moderates oppose it while liberals support it.  Men oppose it while women support it.  Whites oppose it, Latinos support it, and other ethnic groups were split.

Voters under 40 support the Munger income tax increase measure while voters over 40 oppose it.  Union households support it while non-union households were split.  People making less than $40,000 support it while voters making more than $40,000 oppose it.

As expected, San Francisco Bay Area voters support the Munger income tax increase measure while other Northern Californians oppose it.  Strangely, Los Angeles County voters are evenly split on the measure while other Southern Californians were supportive, upending the typical result of LA County being less tax-averse than other Southern Californians (in this same poll, on the Brown and Steyer measures, the more-expected result of LA County being less tax averse than the rest of Southern California occurred).

Voters Evenly Split on Steyer Singles Sales Factor for Business Income Tax Calculation Measure

Tom Steyer’s measure requiring the singles sales factor for business income tax calculation has voters effectively split, with 44% supporting it and 43% opposing it.

Conservatives and Republicans oppose the Steyer single sales factor measure while independents, moderates, Democrats, and liberals support it.  While both genders were split within the margin of error, men were more likely to oppose while women were more likely to support.  Whites oppose the measure, Latinos support it, and other ethnic groups were evenly split.

Voters under 40 support the Steyer singles sales factor measure, voters over 65 oppose it, while middle-aged voters were even split.  Union households were supportive while non-union households were evenly split.  Voters making making $40,000-$99,999 support the measure while those making more than $100,000 oppose the measure.  Oddly, those making less than $40,000 were evenly split.

The San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles County support the Steyer single sales factor measure while the rest of Northern and Southern California oppose it.

Will the LA County Measure R Sales Tax Extension Accidentally Kill All the Tax Measures?

In 2008, LA County voters approved Measure R, a 0.5% sales tax increase to fund transportation projects that took effect July 1, 2009, and expires 30 years later in 2039.  Inexplicably, the LA Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted to place an extension of Measure R on the November 2012 ballot to add 30 years to the 0.5% sales tax increase making it expire in 2069.

Just four years into a thirty-year tax, voters are being asked to make it a sixty-year tax.  If approved, nearly all people who vote on this ballot measure will be dead by the time the tax expires.

It seems strategically odd to ask for an extension so soon after the initial passage.  It would have seemed more strategically sound to wait until 2030 or so when Measure R was nearing expiration.

The placement of the Measure R extension on the November ballot means LA County voters will be faced with four tax measures on their ballot.  Voter tax fatigue will take its toll in LA County.

Why does LA County tax fatigue matter to the rest of the state?  Well, 1/4 of all Californians live in Los Angeles County.

Look at Prop 29: it failed by 0.6%.  The San Francisco Bay Area went overwhelmingly for it.  Most of Northern and Southern California went overwhelmingly against it.  Los Angeles County narrowly went against Prop 29.

This Measure R extension may be the inadvertent death knell of the tax-related statewide ballot measures in November.

LA County support is pivotal for any tax measure hoping to pass in California.

What the Three State Ballot Measures Would Do

For those of you who are wondering what the three state ballot measures would do…

Brown’s measure (likely Proposition 30 or Proposition 37, it is officially titled, “Temporary Taxes to Fund Education. Guaranteed Local Public Safety Funding. Initiative Constitutional Amendment. “) would increase personal income taxes for amounts above $250,000 per year for seven years and raise the state sales tax by 0.25% for four years. Specifically, income taxes on amounts:

  • between $250,000-$300,000 would increase by 1% to 10.3%
  • between $300,000-$500,000 would increase by 2% to 11.3%
  • above $500,000 would increase by 3% to 12.3%

Sales taxes in OC would climb to 8%, except in La Habra, where it would go to 8.5%. LA County sales tax would go up to 9%.

For seven years, 89% of the tax money is allocated to K-12 schools with 11% to community colleges. On a permanent basis, 1.0625% sales tax would be permanently removed from the Prop 98 education funding formula to fund local public safety realignment programs.

Click here for the Legislative Analyst Office’s official fiscal analysis of the Brown measure.

Munger’s measure (likely Proposition 36 or Proposition 38, it is officially titled, “Tax for Education and Early Childhood Programs. Initiative Statute.”) would increase personal income taxes on nearly all Californians for twelve years.  Specifically, for individuals who are not heads of households, income taxes on amounts:

  • between $7,316-$17,346 would increase by 0.4% to 2.4%
  • between $17,346-$27,377 would increase by 0.7% to 4.7%
  • between $27,377-$38,004 would increase by 1.1% to 7.1%
  • between $38,004-$48,029 would increase by 1.4% to 9.4%
  • between $48,029-$100,000 would increase by 1.6% to 10.9%
  • between $100,000-$250,000 would increase by 1.8% to 11.1%
  • between $250,000-$500,000 would increase by 1.9% to 11.2%
  • between $500,000-$1,000,000 would increase by 2.0% to 11.3%
  • between $1,000,000-$2,500,000 would increase by 2.1% to 11.4%
  • above $2,500,000 would increase by 2.2% to 11.5%

For heads of households, income taxes on amounts:

  • between $14,642-$34,692 would increase by 0.4% to 2.4%
  • between $34,692-$44,721 would increase by 0.7% to 4.7%
  • between $44,721-$55,348 would increase by 1.1% to 7.1%
  • between $55,348-$65,376 would increase by 1.4% to 9.4%
  • between $65,376-$136,118 would increase by 1.6% to 10.9%
  • between $136,118-$340,294 would increase by 1.8% to 11.1%
  • between $340,294-$680,589 would increase by 1.9% to 11.2%
  • between $680,589-$1,361,178 would increase by 2.0% to 11.3%
  • between $1,361,178-$3,402,944 would increase by 2.1% to 11.4%
  • over $3,402,944 would increase by 2.2% to 11.5%

For the first four years, 60% of the tax money is allocated to K-12 schools, 10% to early childhood programs, and 30% to repaying state debt. For the remaining eight years, 85% of the tax money is allocated to K-12 schools and 15% to early childhood programs.

Click here for the Legislative Analyst Office’s official fiscal analysis of the Munger measure.

Steyer’s measure (likely Proposition 38 or Proposition 39, it is officially titled, “Tax Treatment for Multistate Businesses. Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Funding. Initiative Statute.”) would permanently impose the single sales factor calculation on income taxes for multistate businesses.

For five years, $550,000,000 would be allocated from the state General Fund into the “Clean Energy Job Creation Fund,” which would be used for energy efficiency retrofits and alternative energy installations in government buildings, local government energy retrofit financial assistance programs, and job training and workforce development programs.

Click here for the Legislative Analyst Office’s official fiscal analysis of the Steyer measure.

Posted in California | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Assemblyman Don Wagner: Budget Fact Check – Is High Speed Rail More of a Budget Priority Than Education?

Posted by Newsletter Reprint on July 7, 2012

This came over the wire from Assemblyman Don Wagner’s office on Thursday…

Don Wagner | District 70
Image Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 68th Assembly District | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

The Story of High Speed Rail Lobbyist Troy Edgar

Posted by OC Insider on April 25, 2012

As we’re still getting to know the candidates for Assembly in the 72nd District, one question I keep hearing people ask over and over again is: Does Troy Edgar still support wasting taxpayer dollars on fanciful high speed rail?

Just as importantly he should come clean about how much taxpayer money he spent traveling around the country lobbying for high speed rail.

Everyone knows that Troy Edgar was a lifelong Democrat and only switched parties when he decided to run for office.   Unfortunately for Orange County, despite the ‘R’ next to his name he has governed like a Chicago Democrat.  Edgar’s push for an illegal trash contract and constant desire to raise taxes and fees are well known.

What is a little less known is that, for a brief period of time, Los Alamitos paid a large sum in order to join the Orangeline Development Authority (OLDA).  At the time, the mission of OLDA was promoting a high speed maglev rail line that would run from Irvine to Palmdale.

Troy Edgar was named Vice Chairman of OLDA and quickly became one of the most active proponents of this high speed rail boondoggle.

He quickly started lobbying Orange County cities and agencies.  He frivolously worked on getting the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) on to support the project.  Before presenting to OCTA, he bragged about “his previous lobbying efforts toward the OCTA to prepare for this event.”

Fortunately for Orange County and California, OCTA turned Troy Edgar and his levitating high speed train down.  No doubt, by saying no to Troy Edgar, OCTA saved taxpayers billions.

Here are just a few of the problems that OCTA found with Troy’s Train.

From OCTA July 26, 2007 Staff Report:

“OCTA has not committed right of way”

“Financial plan appears extremely optimistic”

“$18 average fare is assumed for 20-mile trip”

From OCTA CEO Arthur Leahy, August 9, 2007 Memo:

“The Orangeline financial plan appears extremely optimistic.”

“Investors expressed concern about the Orangeline’s ability to secure right-of-way for the project and to receive the necessary environmental approvals.”

“Only one of the Orangeline’s 14 member cities, Los Alamitos, is located in Orange County, and none of the seven the seven Orange County cities directly bordering the PE Railroad right-of-way has joined the Orangeline.” (OLDA Minutes May 9, 2007)

“In March 2007, the La Palma City Council adopted a resolution explicitly opposing the use of the PE Railroad right-of-way for any future transit project, including the Orangeline.”

Furthermore, in true Chicago Democrat style, Troy Edgar could not take no for an answer and wanted OCTA to bully Orange County cities that did not want this project going through their town.

La Palma city councilman, Ralph Rodriguez spoke in opposition to the project.

“The City of La Palma opposes this particular project since it would be disruptive to the residential properties that are adjacent to the subject right-of-way” (OCTA Transit Planning and Operations Committee Meeting May 10, 2007)

How did Troy Edgar react?  He urged OCTA to ignore the city of La Palma.

“Troy Edgar, Councilman, City of Los Alamitos, stated this is an opportunity to provide clean technology and asked staff to keep the Orangeline project as an option and append the Long-Range Transportation Plan to include this project. (OCTA Transit Planning and Operations Committee Meeting May 10, 2007)

Not being able to take a hint and realize that he is lobbying for a tax dollar black hole that is not wanted by either the impacted cities or the taxpayers who would have to foot the bill, Troy Edgar decided it was a good idea travel to New York and lobby private investors for this project.  He even brags about it in the OC Register.

“He will talk later this month to potential investors in New York”

I wonder just how much this trip cost.  In fact, I would like to know how much all of Edgar’s lobbying efforts cost.  He traveled all over the state on behalf of this project. In addition to his OLDA per meeting stipend of $100 (yes, he took a stipend for his OLDA meetings), how much did taxpayers have to pay for all of his travel?

Can we trust Troy Edgar to oppose High Speed Rail if we send him to Sacramento? I would have to say, absolutely not! If this entire saga makes one thing clear, it is that Troy Edgar cannot be trusted with taxpayer funds.

Posted in 72nd Assembly District, Los Alamitos, Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

 
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