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Author Archive

The Trouble with Josh Newman

Posted by Brenda Higgins on October 20, 2017

 

Josh Newman is the California State Senator elected to the 29th district, which includes North Orange County, Fullerton to Yorba Linda and adjacent communities in San Bernardino county and Los Angeles County.

http://wedrawthelines.ca.gov/downloads/meeting_handouts_082011/map_20110815_ap_sd_29_certified.pdf

Newman was elected in November 2016. The election of Newman created a super-majority of Democrats in Sacramento. His election was the closest one in the state and was the last one to be finalized and certified. This seat has been easily won and held by Republicans for many years.

SB1 is also known as the “Gas and Car Tax”. It increased the tax that Californians pay on a gallon of gas from $ 0.18 to $ 0.31, a $ 0.13 increase. The effort to recall Newman began shortly after that with San Diego activist, Carl DeMaio leading the effort.

A website was up during the time that the signatures were being gathered, as well as a Facebook page. “Stop the Gas Tax” was the mantra, the battle cry, the motto, the slogan emblazoned on the signs. The name of the website has now been changed, as has the name of the Facebook page. However the Facebook page has merely added “Recall Senator Newman” to its original title “Stop the Gas Tax. Now, it is hyphenated.
The first challenge to be mounted to the recall effort was litigation targeting the deception. The phrase that populated everything that came from the organization was “Stop the Gas Tax”. No mention of Newman. No mention of recall. Stop The Gas Tax.

Recalling Newman will not repeal the gas tax.

Further, Newman was not the “deciding vote”, as has been stated in some of the promotion of this effort.

https://ballotpedia.org/Verbatim_fact_check:_Was_Sen._Josh_Newman_the_deciding_vote_on_California%27s_gas_tax_increase%3F

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Newman, names as defendants, the Cal State Fullerton students who were gathering signatures, accusing them of misrepresenting the nature of the petition that they were having people sign. In discussing this with professionals who deal with these election law matters, they have insisted that this litigation is not going anywhere, as the description on the petition itself is the only relevant consideration in legally determining if signers have been mislead. It is hard to believe, that the signage, and name of the website and Facebook page don’t matter. Time will tell, that litigation is still pending. The legal issue may be resolved in the manner that the involved Republicans believe, but they seem to be a tad short sighted in assuming that voters do not care about being deliberately mislead.

In the meantime, the Democrats with their super majority and governor, have passed additional legislation, to delay the recall. The legislation would provide a 30 day grace period, for people to change their minds and ask that their signatures be removed from a petition. They passed the legislation in June, it was shortly thereafter blocked by an appeals court. A new bill, was then passed and quickly signed by the governor, would require that every single signature be verified, rather than just verifying a random sampling of the signatures. This of course delays and lengthens the time it potentially takes to get a special election on the calendar. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers have filed a petition in court to fight this new law. That litigation is also pending.

The score so far is this, California consumers will be paying 13 cents more for every gallon of gas, 20 cents on diesel fuel, starting November 1, 2017. California vehicle owners will be paying an additional $25 to $175 on vehicle registrations. That is just on the SB1 legislation that Republicans are blaming Senator Newman for.

It is estimated that these new taxes, on this legislation alone, will generate $52 billion over the next ten years, to be used for road improvements. I don’t think there is anyone who disputes that road and infrastructure is badly in need of attention in our state. However, the government in California has been notoriously untrustworthy in using allocated budget funds to repair and maintain our roads. This time, it seems they pinky promise or some other super-duper assurance that these funds, really will be used for roads.

The problem with hanging this albatross around the neck of Newman, is that watching all of the activity in Sacramento, it is impossible to fathom that an extra republican in the Senate would have made a difference. Nowhere in the propaganda accompanying this farce of a recall does it inform voters that there was a Republican who voted for this gas tax, and there was. That republican is not being targeted for recall. The fact checker (link is above) from Ballotpedia (Non-partisan source) says that the claim of Newman being the “deciding vote” is patently false. 27 Senators in the State Senate are Democrats. 27 Senators voted for the “Gas Tax” (SB1), the no votes were not tallied, and there were two Senators who did not vote. One of the affirming votes was from a Republican Senator.

After the recall was well underway, California Cap and Trade legislation came up for vote. The Republican minority leader voted for the legislation, which will raise taxes on a gallon of California by about 63 cents. The Republican leader, also convinced 8 other Republicans to vote along with him. Neither the Republican leader, nor any of the legislators who voted with him are being targeted for recall.
So the real trouble with Newman, is that he is a democrat, in a seat the Republicans perceive to be at risk. The issue never was the gas tax. Had we elected a Republican in SD29, I can imagine based upon voting history and party behavior, we would be having a very different conversation about this gas tax. It would go something like, we really, really need to fix the roads and there is no other way but to implement this new tax. The newly elected Republican Senator would be making the lunch and coffee meeting rounds to explain how hard it is to be in the minority in Sacramento and why she had to vote for the tax. It is all about the constituents and I was looking out for you, for our roads.

Newman, at least voted in the way anyone and everyone anticipated him to vote and makes no apology therefore. The false flag does not change this and it is not a far stretch to know that the Republican who would have occupied that seat, likely would have voted the same way and make excuses for it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

SB1 and a Ruse for a Recall

Posted by Brenda Higgins on May 9, 2017

In April the California legislature passed, and the Governor signed a new gas tax that adds 12 cents per gallon to gas purchased in California. This legislation passed the state Senate with 27 votes. This was the minimum number of votes needed to pass a new tax. Senators voted along party lines, except for Republican Senator Anthony Canella.

A recall effort is now underway, to recall a Senator who voted for the tax, but it is not the one Republican Senator. The recall effort targets freshman Senator Josh Newman. Last fall, Josh was only a second time candidate but a first time elected. The initiators of the recall have indicated that they targeted Senator Newman merely because he was vulnerable. His election went into eleventh hour counting and was what they have termed a “slim margin”.

Without getting to the substance or merit of the tax, there is no ethical or behavioral allegations that Senator Newman has acted unbecoming his office or outside the scope of his authority, the only issue appears to be, that he seems “vulnerable.”

Once again, the recall procedure is being abused to effect political gamesmanship at the expense of the citizens of California. If only conservatives could focus on fiscal responsibility that they claim to espouse.
There is no indication of whom they intend to replace Senator Newman in the event that the recall gets off the ground. Their short memories and lack of insight have lead to this place. Much like Hillary Clinton and her tone deaf blame game without any personal responsibility, the conservatives in California fail to acknowledge that the Republicans-in-Name-Only, and demographic gamesmanship, caused voters to substantively seek out, anyone else.
Yet at least one of those failed candidates from 2016 is already being rebooted for a Supervisor race.

If conservatives are to ever have a voice in California again, they need a Monday morning quarterback meeting, at a minimum. The OCGOP Chairman laughing off Democrat promises to bring all their forces to bear on the congressional races is also an ominous sign. The coming election cycle never goes well for a losing party who fails to learn any lessons.
The thing that is clear is that none of this recall effort has anything to do with Senator Josh Newman. He is a convenient scapegoat. The scapegoat for a GOP that is disconnected and avoiding doing the real work, whose bench is a mile wide and an inch deep. The time would be far better spent taking seriously the challenges to our congressional seats.

Instead we get, gamesmanship, at the expense of the voter. As long as conservatives continue to behave as though the voters are stupid, they will continue to be subject to a supermajority in Sacramento and will be the cause of a shift in the balance of power in DC.

Recalls are expensive and an extraordinary measure to be used in extreme circumstances of wrongdoing.  The public will not be fooled by this, but the ‘brand’ that the county central committee has lamented about preserving, will certainly be damaged, yet again.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Fiscal Responsibility and the Republican Brand

Posted by Brenda Higgins on November 1, 2016

Recently, during an Orange County Central Committee meeting, the depletion of the Republican brand was emotionally decried by a board member opposing the endorsement of some PYLUSD School Board members.

The School Board challenger candidates,  Khan, Yezbak and Kingsbury, are running for the open seats currently held by Padget, Carmona and Downey.  They were seeking the endorsement of the OCGOP. At that September meeting of the OCGOP Central Committee, they were accused of supporting a recall effort against either some Yorba Linda City Council candidates or the current water board recall.  During the questioning, it was not entirely clear, nor was it established that they undertook some actual support of the recalls, it was simply vociferously and strenuously asserted and accused.  These candidates, all of them registered Republicans, have since withdrawn their request to be endorsed by the OCGOP.

The incumbents (Padget, Carmona and Downy) were elected, seated members of the PYLUSD school board when the bond expenditures were approved that funded multiple school improvements as well as the Performing Arts Center at El Dorado High School, and the Shappell Stadium at Yorba Linda High School.  At the OCGOP meeting in September, no mention was made of these usurious bonds.  None, not once was it raised.

All beautiful and seemingly worthwhile expenditures, new buildings, building improvements and technology, except that they weren’t. The initial cost of these improvements was about $22 million. In their infinite wisdom, these sitting school board members financed the improvements with bonds that had interest rates of about 23%. Once these buildings and the technology upgrades are all paid off, the overall cost to the citizens of Placentia and Yorba Linda will be well over $300 million.

$300 million, for $22 million in improvements. About 40 years to pay it all off. Fiscally responsible?

I wrote about these things in 2015, and apparently none of the GOP in Orange County were paying attention, because they seemed fully and completely unaware of it at their meeting in September.

https://the127activist.wordpress.com/category/propositions-and-ballot-issues/

The Central Committee member who was so offended by these school board challengers seeking an endorsement is also an elected official in Yorba Linda.  She railed against these challengers and accused them of damaging the Republican brand. There has been an ugly groundswell in Yorba Linda of using recall efforts to oust unruly politicians, the merit of them certainly debatable, but it was not established nor even asserted that these candidates had anything to do with the recent council or water board recall efforts. It was simply a question, viscerally and emotionally posited, and as such, suggested they had or might have signed the recall petitions.  They stated, repeatedly, that they did not recall.  It was not an evidentiary hearing, it was an informal question and answer period.  It seemed like an inquisition.

Personal vendettas have no place in local elections, and should not be part of the Republican brand. The pontification about branding of the party in that OCGOP meeting, never at any time, mentioned the serious fiscal issues of the PYLUSD board, or any real issues for that matter, only emoting about elections past and perceived alignments within the city.

Noteworthy, was the attendance at that meeting, by Eric Padget, Incumbent PYLUSD board member and registered Republican. His colleagues on the board who are also up for re-election, are not Republicans.
The OCGOP, on that evening, voted NOT to endorse the challengers, Khan, Calderon and Kingsbury. Neither Eric Padgett, nor his non-Republican cohorts, sought the timely endorsement of the OCGOP.  It was rumored that Mr. Padgett is not a regular at those Central Committee meetings and was probably there at the behest of the Yorba Linda City Council members who are also members of the Central Committee.

What then, is this “BRAND” that is so worthy of protection? If the Central Committee will sit idly by and do nothing in the face of such obvious and usurious abuse by sitting board members, that in and of itself is an “endorsement”.  40 year financing at 23 %, can not be argued in any context to be fiscally responsible.  That is without even getting to the discussion of the abomination that is Common Core, and the federal usurping of our local education system.

Conservatism, used to mean, fiscal responsibility as well as adhering to a concept of local control. No reasonable minds believe that financing technology and building improvements at 23% interest, while the budget and taxpayers are strapped with this debt for the next few generations, is “fiscal responsibility”.

If by protecting the “brand” the committee members meant that they publicizing their ability to exact vengeance upon people who might have disagreed with them in elections past, then, by all means, that “brand” was communicated and is now understood. It is not who we used to be, or historically have bene as Republicans, that is Clinton-cartel style politics.
Let’s hope it does not proliferate in our party and our county.
Here is the story as it was carried by the OC Register when the financial abuse in the PYLUSD was first widely exposed. http://www.ocregister.com/articles/bonds-496091-school-bank.html

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

During Homeless Crisis, Councilwoman Michele Martinez Charged Taxpayers for European Junket, Trip to Vegas, and $3000 Per Hour Phantom Meetings

Posted by Brenda Higgins on October 28, 2016

Is Michele Martinez traveling again? Maybe she went golfing?

Is Michele Martinez traveling again? Maybe she went golfing?

While the City of Santa Ana was experiencing a “public health and safety homeless crisis,” Santa Ana Councilwoman Michele Martinez was charging taxpayers for stays in five-star hotels in London and Milan, a party in Las Vegas, and dubious per diem payments for phantom meetings of the city’s housing authority.

A review of expense reports, travel records, and emails shows a shocking pattern of Michele Martinez living large at the public’s expense, raising questions whether the Councilwoman has violated government travel policies, state disclosure rules or state ethics laws.
This July, as local law enforcement agencies were training judges and courthouse staff how to safely navigate downtown Santa Ana, Councilwoman Michele Martinez was checking in to London’s five-star Mondrian Hotel, rated the third best bar in the world.
$53,340 Trip to London and Milan
Martinez’s three nights in London were followed by three nights in Milan at NH Collection Milano President Hotel. The estimated cost to taxpayers for Martinez’s flights, hotels, and meals was $4,500.
 
It’s just one of the many perks Martinez has received as Santa Ana’s representative on regional boards and commissions. Organized by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), a multi-governmental agency tasked with solving regional issues, the summer trip to Europe cost taxpayers $53,340.
 
The European junket appears to have violated SCAG’s own travel policies. According to a May 5, 2016 report from SCAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata, “Per SCAG Travel Policy, foreign travel requires Regional Council approval.” However, a review of meeting minutes shows no evidence that the trip was approved by the Regional Council.
 
But London and Milan weren’t Martinez’s only taxpayer-funded trips in 2016. As a member of the Metropolitan Water District Board, Councilwoman Michele Martinez arranged two taxpayer-funded junkets, including one to Las Vegas.
 
$15,551 Trip to Las Vegas
Travel records obtained from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California show Martinez arranged a taxpayer-funded trip for herself and nearly two dozen friends at a $15,551 cost to taxpayers. The previous year, Martinez arranged a trip for 32 people to tour the state water project at a $26,059 cost to taxpayers.
 
“I am certain the pairs I choose will be good roommates,” Martinez wrote in one email to water agency staff. “The good news is that I know almost everyone attending but one person.”
 
Martinez micro-managed every detail of the trip – right down to the snacks, which included “M&Ms, Snickers and Cookies.”
 
Although Martinez found time to pick out snacks on her taxpayer-funded trips, she couldn’t find time to attend the Metropolitan Water District’s meetings.
 
As Santa Ana’s representative on the regional water board, Michele Martinez skipped 35 meetings, including 14 meetings of the district’s important Finance Committee. Martinez showed up on-time for just a single meeting of the Water Planning and Stewardship meeting, which is responsible for drought planning and conservation. After months of absences and tardiness, Martinez’s colleagues voted to remove her from that Committee after serving for less than a year.
 
$3,000 Per Hour at Phantom Meetings
 
Santa Ana City Councilmembers, who are seeking a 700 percent raise next month, earn $125 per council meeting, health benefits, and a $500 monthly car allowance. Yet, Martinez and her colleagues on the city council have also found creative ways to boost their salaries with phantom housing authority meetings.
 
Michele Martinez and her colleagues have collected an additional $50 in per diem payments from the city’s Housing Authority. Most meetings have lasted less than 2 minutes.  Some meetings lasted less than 30 seconds – providing councilmembers with the equivalent of $3,000 per hour for their work.
 
This year, the City of Santa Ana’s Housing Authority has met for 15 minutes – not per meeting, that’s the total time for the first 10 meetings of 2016. In the past six years, Michele Martinez has spent 3 hours and 40 minutes participating in Santa Ana Housing Authority meetings. That’s the cumulative total of meetings that Martinez has attended over the past 6 years. 
 
Less than 4 hours. That’s how much time Martinez has spent on housing in the past 6 years. Since 2011, Martinez has attended 56 Santa Ana Housing Authority meetings that lasted 2 minutes or less. Only 6 meetings lasted more than 5 minutes. Martinez was absent from another 13 meetings. 
 
At these phantom meetings, councilmembers have ignored the Housing Authority’s charter of finding solutions to the city’s affordable housing crisis. “We need to figure out how we permanently house people,” Martinez told the Orange County Register. Maybe she should have taken time to review her city’s annual housing plan.
  • In 2011, the Santa Ana Housing Authority approved the annual housing plan at a 1-minute-long meeting.
  • In 2012, the Santa Ana Housing Authority approved the annual housing plan at a 1-minute-long meeting.
  • In 2013, the Santa Ana Housing Authority approved the annual housing plan at a 1-minute-long meeting.
  • In 2014, the Santa Ana Housing Authority approved its annual report in low income housing at a 1-minute-long meeting.
  • In 2015, the Santa Ana Housing Authority approved its 5-Year Housing Plan at a 1-minute-long meeting.
  • In 2016, Martinez was absent at the meeting, where the Santa Ana Housing Authority reviewed its annual housing plan.
European junkets. Parties in Vegas. $3,000 per hour for phantom meetings. All billed to the taxpayer. Perhaps Michele Martinez is right about one thing: “We have a priority problem,” she told the Voice of OC

Posted in 1st Supervisorial District, Santa Ana | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

How Viagra Crushed a Little Pink House (Part II)

Posted by Brenda Higgins on November 14, 2015

It has been more than a decade since the decision that approved a city’s taking of Susette Kelo’s home.  As stated in Part I, memories in Sacramento are short.  Not one member of the California State Assembly stood to speak against AB 2, the new law re-authorizing such takings of private property. The new name of these Sheriff-of-Nottingham agencies is CRIA, Community Revitalization Investment Authority, the purpose for any city or municipality to create such an agency is clear.  The purpose is to ‘take’ from ordinary home owners and give the property to their wealthy friends and developers.

Not just in California though, other states have similarly exercised voluntary amnesia about how badly the Kelo case went for both the homeowners who lost at the Supreme Court, and the city who lost ultimately, holding the bag on a bunch of vacant land.  Similar fights have gone on in New Jersey and in Colorado.

Glendale, Colorado, pursued a plan to take a family owned Persian rug store and turn it into an entertainment complex.  The family pushed back, and the city ultimately decided it did not need that specific property to move forward with its plan.  However, the city had designated the property as “blighted”.  The family sought to have the designation removed, but the city refused, saying that there were conditions on the property that had not been improved since the “blight” label had been attached.  These were not new conditions, but existing conditions, pursuant to the city’ definition of “blight” which could have been anything from poor lighting, deteriorating structures, poor street layout, environmental contamination or an unsafe condition.  The family filed suit against the city on October 27, 2015 to have that label removed from their property.  There is no resolution yet.

In Atlantic City, Charlie Birnbaum owns a home near a casino, that has been in his family for 45 years.  Last spring, the Casino Redevelopment Authority, sought to obtain Charlie’s home and bulldoze it, making way to expand the Revel Casino.  However, there are already multiple other vacant lots surrounding the casino that have not yet been used, and the casino has filed bankruptcy twice, and has now closed.  The city is still seeking to take Charlie’s house from him.  Charlie does not live there anymore, he uses the property for his piano teaching and tuning business.  He has vowed not to surrender his family home without a fight.  He has also asked to know what will be done with the property, in effect, he wants to know, is there a good reason to give up this family treasure.  There is still no answer, because they do not have a plan.

Remember, from the Part I of this post, that our local representatives, Chang and Kim, were on the very quiet bandwagon to reimplement Eminent Domain practices in our state.  There really is not way of knowing why they voted in support of this, feel free to ask them, if they have some friends in building associations or development that encouraged their vote in this direction. Also worth considering though, is what you likely saw on your own newsfeed this fall, while this vote was quietly making it’s way through Sacramento.

You may have seen headlines indicating that both the Chargers of San Diego, and the Raiders of Oakland, are considering a move. Also noteworthy, the ongoing pandering with the Anaheim City Council and Arte Moreno, the owner of the Angels. They are going to need property, and these professional sports teams are favorite pet-projects of politicians elected to small city offices.  These projects are always pitched under the ‘revenue’ enhancement argument, about how great it will be for the sales tax income of the city, but make no mistake, welfare is welfare even if the welfare recipient is a wealthy owner of a sports franchise, and they will not stop at simply given tax breaks and donating land, if they want your land, they are going to take your land.

This is a likely direction for the ugly growth of Eminent Domain powers in your neighborhood.   Be on the lookout, political favoritism and outright takings are coming to a neighborhood near you.  No one’s property is safe.

Posted in State Assembly | 1 Comment »

What on Earth is Jeff Lalloway Thinking?

Posted by Brenda Higgins on November 5, 2015

Newly-elected California Republican Party Vice Chairman South Jeff Lalloway, who is also OC GOP Treasurer, is learning what a real Republican has to do. Tonight, Orange County cities will select a City Councilmember to represent OC’s interests on the South Coast Air Quality Management District – one of the most powerful and draconian unelected agencies in the state.  They’ve put numerous companies out of business with fines and last year they banned wood burning fire rings on LA and OC’s beaches.

Lalloway was Irvine’s representative to the City Selection Committee voting on the AQMD position. State GOP Chairman Jim Brulte has publicly stated the importance of appointing a Republican to the AQMD.

Lalloway signaled his support for Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido, a liberal Democrat with ties to Hillary Clinton.  Worse than that, just a few months ago, the FPPC found that Pulido committed six violations of the Political Reform Act involving a land deal with a city contractor.  Not only that, Pulido even appointed his brother to be his consultant/assistant at AQMD.

We can only hope that GOP leaders take Lalloway to the woodshed.

Irvine Mayor Steven Choi, currently a 68th Assembly District candidate, may have saved the day by pulling Lalloway off the City Selection Committee and replacing him with long-time conservative Councilwoman Christina Shea.

The businesses and residents of Orange County owe Choi and Shea a debt of gratitude for their role in ending Pulido’s reign at AQMD.

Lalloway, known for his rattlesnake personality, sent this nastygram of an email to Choi:

I will be pulling my endorsement of you and supporting another candidate in your assembly race. As a matter of fact, I will be doing everything I can to make sure you lose in every race you ever run again. Say goodbye to your political career.

All Choi had written before Lalloway’s completely over the top response was:

Dear Jeff:

I must withdraw my email to you earlier for you to attend the Selection Committee meeting on November 5th.

I have asked Christina Shea to represent me who will be voting in my place according to my direction.

Thank you for your understanding.

Steven

What Republican would want Lalloway’s endorsement after this mess?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

How Viagra crushed a Little Pink House (Part I)

Posted by Brenda Higgins on October 30, 2015

Susette Kelo was a nurse, and a recently divorced single mother. Susette had the good fortune to find herself a lovely house in New London Connecticut, a fixer-upper. Suzette purchased this old house in 1997, and went to work on making it her own, including painting it pink. Suzette’s house had a great view of Connecticut’s Thames river. Her neighbor just across that river was Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. Pfizer also experienced some good fortune around the same time, with the release of Viagra in 1998.

Susette planned to stay there, in that pink house, for the rest of her life. Pfizer also had long term plans for its home in New London. Pfizer’s plans did not include Susette Kelo but their plans did include her neighborhood.

The City of New London used the power of Eminent Domain to condemn Susette’s home and those of her surrounding neighbors. The city envisioned ‘jumpstarting’ the city’s dwindling economy with new condos and other projects that would complement the Pfizer facility, in the place of Susette’s neighborhood.  Susette and her neighbors were not going to sit still and allow their property rights and their homes to be destroyed. They refused to surrender their properties to this process and litigated the matter all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.  In 2005, Susette and her neighbors lost in their last heroic effort to save their homes. The court ruled that the city acted within it’s rights in condemning and taking the property of Susette and her neighbors pursuant to Eminent Domain procedures, even if they were taking it for purposes of Pfizer and a private development project.

There was a tremendous backlash and shock that followed that case nationwide. After that decision in Kelo V. New London, many states took steps to limit the power of Eminent Domain in their states. California was one of those.

In 2011, Republican Chris Norby pushed through legislation which ended Redevelopment Agencies in California, agencies also known as “RDA’s.” These were the popular means by which many state and county governments were doing exactly what New London had done. An “RDA” would be established for the purpose of determining that a given area or neighborhood was “blighted”, then “condemn” it.  Often, like in the New London case, the property would be sold to private developers.  Governor Jerry Brown was also a vocal critic of this practice which was an obvious infringement upon the rights of property owners and as such, Gov. Brown supported Norby’s efforts by signing his bill into law.

Memories are short in Sacramento.

In the past two months, Governor Brown has again signed two bills Re-Establishing these practices of cities, counties and other municipalities, in taking property away from rightful owners. These new types of agencies might be called “Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Device” or EIFO, and “Community Revitalization Investment Authority”, or CRIA.

Since there are no truth in disclosure requirements for legislation, lobbyists and legislators have wide discretion to name new laws and newly invented government agencies stemming from these laws. If there were such truthful naming rules, these agencies would have to be called “Pigs with Lipstick” agencies. In spite of all the chest beating our governor does about how pro-civil liberties he is, he quietly signed these property taking measures into law within the past six weeks.  It is still Eminent Domain.  It is still a public agency taking private property and turning it over to a corporation or developer.  These agencies and their efforts might not be called “RDA’s” any longer, but that is what they are.

Also voting in support of the creation of these CRIA’s, the agencies that will now be authorized to take private property away from small businesses and private homeowners, (surprisingly) new local conservative heroines, Ling Ling Chang and Young Kim. Sadly, their gerrymandered districts overlay what used to be the consistently conservative district of Norby. There was little fanfare or contention about their votes in favor of big government and big business.  Fortunately, Orange County does have some conservatives in Sacramento who still think that government aid to corporations like Pfizer are a bad idea.  A thanks for holding the line on this appropriately goes out to Matt Harper and Travis Allen who voted against authorizing new CRIA’s for the taking of private property.

Now that California has resuscitated the right of government to crush little pink houses on behalf of corporate giants like Pfizer, what ever became of Susette Kelo and her neighbors???

Ten years after the huge victory won by Pfizer and New London, the neighborhood still stands vacant. The houses were torn down and are long gone.  Only empty fields remain and only feral cats have made new homes there.  The litigation against Susette and her neighbors cost the city in excess of $80 million. Pfizer abandoned its plant in New London, along with 1500 jobs. At the end of the Supreme Court case, there was even MORE litigation when the city tried to sue Susette and her neighbors to recover rent for the years that the litigation had been ongoing.

The proponents of the new California laws and creation of these new agencies cite as the reason to support it as new “safeguards”. The only added safeguards are the number of conditions of “blight” that have to be found prior to a municipality making a determination to “condemn”.  Other than this very minor change, the CRIA is nearly identical to the old RDA.  Ultimately, these are still just mechanisms that the government can use, to take private property from small businesses and homeowners, and transfer it to large corporations and developers.
In their defense, even a tiny change is in fact a ‘difference’. Just like a pig, it is different with lipstick.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Don’t call it Assisted Suicide

Posted by Brenda Higgins on October 19, 2015

On October 5, 2015, California continued its race to become one of the most anti-life states with the enactment of the “END OF LIFE OPTION ACT”.  We became the sixth state to enact a law that will enable physicians to assist terminally ill patients to terminate their own life.  It is illegal in all of the other 44 states.

The bill that was passed in an “Extraordinary Session”, was named the “End of Life Option Act”.  In the past 20 years and 7 failed attempts to pass similar assisted suicide legislation, they learned that no one liked the word “suicide” in the bill.  Euphemisms continue to sell in the PC new-millennial world, at least in Sacramento.  If politically correcting the bill doesn’t work, just sneak it in during an off-time, under a ruse that it is something other than what it is.  This “Extraordinary Session” was to called after the regular session had ended, with the stated purpose being, to address “Medicare costs”.

In spite of the fact that the bill had not successfully made it’s way through the legislature in the regular session, in spite of the fact that seven prior bills proposing the same thing had failed in the state legislature, and in spite of the fact that In August, three days prior to this bill’s appearance, a San Francisco judge had upheld California’s ban on assisted suicide, it still was somehow deemed enough of an ‘emergency’ to address it in the “Extraordinary” session.
Certainly assisting and hastening the death of the terminally ill will help curb Medicare costs. However, at some point, we have to consider how reprehensible this is, that “end of life options” were lumped into a cost saving session.  We probably also need to issue a formal apology to Sarah Palin for ridiculing her “death panel” comment related to Obamacare. if you haven’t noticed, this is it, we are there.

If you are terminally ill, this new law will enable you to obtain a prescription for an “Aid-in-dying” drug. The new law provides for what appears to be an absolute “pass” for doctors to exercise their conscience. There will be no liability for refusing to write such a prescription. Can you hear the PA and Nurse Practitioner cottage industries popping up? Anyone authorized to dispense medicine under California law may prescribe the Aid-in-dying drug.  There are a plethora of documents that must be completed and witness and advisements adhered and explained and attested to.  This is exactly the kind of cumbersome paperwork that cries out for a non-doctor specialist.  Doctor’s offices, already overburdened with the health care and other regulatory schemes are not likely to take this on and will farm it out to specialists.  The legislation specifically provides that referring out, is anticipated and acceptable.

Life Insurers and Health Insurers, under this new law, may not take any actions that might discourage anyone from exercising these ‘End of Life Options”. Life Insurance can not exclude anyone from receiving benefits if they exercise their rights under this act, even though under most plans, suicide precludes receipt of benefits. If you get the prescription and jump through the procedural hoops, you can end your life and your family still gets the insurance. Health Insurance, it’s easy to assume they are all for this, but they can’t take any steps to dissuade people from it, nor can they exclude it from coverage.

Do you hear the sound of the premium increases coming?

The new law also addresses what the obligations of the prescribing medical professional must do. The law includes a host of warnings and cautions, and a possibility that a referral to a mental health professional can be required if mental instability is suspected. Imagine that. A terminally ill patient, might be suffering from depression. Who’da thunk it?  That is a whole different topic, but how long until certain mental illnesses become a ‘terminal’ illness?

It also specifies and outlines certain precautions, the prescribing professional must ‘verify’ the diagnosis of terminal illness. It doesn’t mention if there is any obligation to consider or advise upon wholistic methods or seek divine intervention. It does state though, that the patient, who must self administer the Aid-in-Dying drug, should be encouraged “Not to ingest the Aid-in-Dying drug in public.” Yes, it really says that. Well, after they do a full mental health exam, they should have great confidence that a possibly depressed and despondent and terminally ill patient will not attempt to traumatize others by dying in public, and will definitely talk to them about it in any event.

One of the greatest parts of the legislation though, is that it mandates the creation of a New Crime. Yes, it is not murder and it is not suicide. Murder is a crime. Assisting in a suicide is a crime. Nothing in this law authorizes you to take authority over someone else’s life or end of life. Of course, there are multiple ‘witness’ declarations and a family notification requirement prerequisite to obtaining your Aid-in-Dying, self administered, but not in public, drug prescription, but none of those people can help. If they do it is a crime, a felony in fact, but not murder and not assisting suicide.

This is not any attempt to make light of the significant suffering that terminally ill patients endure. It is not to discount the agonizing decisions that people and their families are faced with in these dire and tragic situations, BUT, the glaring reality in this unduly complex measure is that simple fact that rarely is anything made better when government steps in and attempts to create a one-size-fits-all process. This is but one more attempt to point out, how ludicrous and intrusive our ever growing and unduly burdensome our state government has become.

There has been a long standing wink and nod between patients and their oncologists when these situations arise. The advent of this law and complex regulation attached to it will not serve the stated purpose of making end-of-life-options more dignified. The opposite is likely to be true. Not to mention the extraordinary slippery slope and opportunity for abuse.

Imagine the government jobs that will be created in regulating this? Oh happy day, there he goes, growing the economy again, thanks Jerry.

This is not about dignity. It is about disposal, the too young, the too old, the unlovely, the unpleasant, in our society, no longer have a place. It is a moral issue, and we as a society, are failing. The fact that our legislature gets away with sliding this under the door during an eleventh hour ‘special’ session, and our conservative representatives can do nothing more that be “on the record” as opposing, speaks volumes about the pervasive apathy and acquiescence in society.

Express your gratitude to the local conservatives who hung in there and at least got their vote counted against this travesty, namely Ling Ling Chang and Matt Harper. There may be a day when we personally, not just publicly, need an advocate in our corner to have faith, to try again, to pray some more, to seek alternative medicine, to actually “fight” cancer. Let’s hope we have a person in our private lives like that, then.  These reps at least showed up and took a stand, even if it was not going to change anything.

This kind of legislation puts all of us, one step closer to not being able to reasonably and intelligently make those decisions about treatment. Additional intrusion into the doctor patient relationship is not a worthwile development. More rules never increased anyone’s freedom or autonomy.

Cue the Palin comment on the death panels again. It is here, folks. Wait for the expansion of the legal definition of ‘terminal’.

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Puppets and Puppeteers in local politics

Posted by Brenda Higgins on September 19, 2014

Much has already been written about the Orange County Sheriff and the contract they won a short time ago to take over policing the city of Yorba Linda. While I opposed this effort, the world seems not to have ended. As a conservative, I believe that if things are not broken, you don’t fix them. Although there have been no serious issues with the department change and the transition, and the OCSD is really pleasant to deal with, there is no credible argument that citizens “saved” money. Accounting tricks are not savings, and all the new stuff that came with the sheriff moving into town, was paid for by someone, even if it did not get reflected in a line item in the contract.

The lingering question is though, was it really pay to play, and were the politicians acting on behalf of a Union who “scratched” their back?

The IE’s (Indepedent Expenditures) in the 2012 Yorba Linda City Council election, made it the most expensive in our city’s history. Our telephones and our mailboxes were bombarded with propaganda about what bad guys Gene Hernandez and Craig Young were.  In 2010, John Anderson’s words (Which I will never forget) related to the hit piece on Jan Horton, “I did not write that piece”, were just the beginning of a very ugly trend. Those hit pieces were paid for (and apparently authored by) the YLRRR. Of Course they were tremendously helpful to Tom Lindsey and John Anderson. Fast Forward to 2012, THEN we have the Police contract in play, the YLRRR hit pieces looked like child’s play compared to the big budget union coming into our town and our political process. In addition to the big budget slick mail campaign on behalf of their friends,  the union president and his wife, showed up to council meetings, repeatedly singing the praises of their favorite candidates, and never once disclosing their conflict of interest.

Those 2012 hit pieces, against newcomer Gene Hernandez, were for the specific purpose of returning to office the incumbents, Mark Schwing, and ….you guessed it, Nancy Rikel, Queen apparent of the current recall effort.

The issue of policing aside, is being in bed with the Union, something we should all be concerned about? Yeah, ya think?!? Additionally, I thought it interesting that Ms. Rikel did not seek the endorsement of the OCGOP in her current bid to return to office. The OCGOP, has been clear that candidates taking money from Unions will not receive an endorsement from the party. The additional problem that neither Ms. Rikel or Schwing have answered is the implication of their own legislative baby, Measure Y. The Yorba Linda ETHICS ordinance which PROHIBITS any candidate from taking any more that $250 from anY CONTRACTOR with the city. Hello? Anyone besides me bothered by this? The largest contract in the history of the city was awarded to the entity that employs the UNION who provided more financial support to the Schwing/Rikel campaign, as to make it the costliest election in the cities history.

“Well, what does that have to do with 2014?”, you say.

The Union President’s wife is a chiropractor. Yes, this is the same couple, with different last names, who appeared at the city council meetings related to the policing contract, and encouraged the council to approve the OCSD contract, signing the praises of John Anderson as “one of the good guys”. As it turns out, there has been a really nifty relationship with her and the union in her receipt of direct referrals of deputies injured on the job. You’ll be hearing about it soon enough and thankfully one of our supervisors are courageous enough to be undertaking an investigation. I am certain he will be issuing a press release sometime soon. It’s probably a safe bet, that it is not Sp. Spitzer. The point being, Yorba Lindans, wake up. Density is not, nor has it ever been the issue. The pandering and exchanging of favors in this organization seems to run far and wide.  Nancy Rikel and Mark Schwing  are eager to get their life time bene’s and keep making sure that contracts for things like policing the city and legal representation, get awarded to their buddies. You have fallen for the smoke screen. They knew you would. In the YL we so easily fall for their repeated carrot and the stick of the evil developers. Who really has their hand in your pockets, citizen? The time has come to wake up and look around.

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Recall fever and NIMBYs

Posted by Brenda Higgins on September 13, 2014

“Not In My Backyard” is such a common phenomenon and driving force in local politics, that, in case you weren’t aware, they’ve come to be known collectively as NIMBYs.  It has become the scourge of Yorba Linda.

There is a recall election taking place.  If you live in the city, the absentee ballot is in your mailbox now.  If you do not vote by mail, the date is October 7.

If you really haven’t been paying attention, the other election, the REAL election, in which you vote for city council, congressman and other important stuff, is November 4.  Yep, you got it, less than 30 days apart.  There must be something super important and horrendously awful going on in the YL to justify the CITY footing the bill for this SPECIAL election for only Yorba Linda.  Yeah. Not so much.  In general, a bunch of local histrionic activists having a temper tantrum melt down again.  Yes, again.  And, you resident, regardless of whether you vote or care or not, are picking up the tab, for self proclaimed “fiscal conservatives” to have mega hissy fit and wear out their soap boxes.

There must be a payoff though right? A derivative benefit, a good sound outcome and consequence in the end?  No. IT changes nothing except the names on the dais.  That’s it.  Truly.  The rest is just rhetoric.  Really.  The same thing was at stake in the last recall effort.  Yes, this is a bi-annual event.  Oh, except that one was justified, right?  No.  It was as silly as this one. It was and remains about who is friends with whom, who in on whom’s “team” and who likes whom and on and on with the personal vendettas.

There is no ethical violations or illegal activity at the heart of this recall, NOR IS ANY ALLEGED.  Yes, you read that right.  No one is alleging that the council member subject to the recall have violated any ethics ordinance or any law at all.  There was an allegation floating around that they broke “campaign promises’, but that is not actually true either and even if it was, really? Who cares and lets’ talk to Hillary Clinton about promises and blue dresses again.

It goes something like this, apartments. Well.  They are not welcome in Yorba Linda.  Apparently neither are the apartment dwellers who come with them, (the racism behind the recall drivers is something that is the subject of much speculation and rumor but not actually documented, you’ll have to derive your own opinion about it) Yorba Linda is subject to certain mandates from the state of California.  We must build housing, in general multi tenant housing, suitable for persons in lower income brackets.  For those of you following along at home it is important to note, the city of Yorba Linda was cited not all that long ago as having the one of the highest per capita income in the nation at about $120,000 per year, per household.  That’s not a lot of diversity, and clearly there aren’t a lot of options then, for people not in that income bracket to reside in the city.

Also, in case you haven’t noticed, in this blue of blue states of ours, there is no tolerance for that kind of affluence and forced inclusion is the rule of law. In the state where we open the border and host welcoming committees for those who cross illegally, how could you really expect anything different.

So, apartments will be built, or Sacramento will be moving into Main Street, regardless of what Yorba Lindans want.  Sacramento is going to make it happen.

Although this is news to most of the residents who are trying to figure out how to vote, this is NOT a new issue.  In anticipation of this issue, the city, meaning the VOTERS of the city, passed Measure B years ago.  Measure B, takes the issue of zoning changes AWAY from the electeds on the city council and places that power in the hands of the people. So, if any land owner in Yorba Linda wishes to change the zoning on their property, so that they may cash in on current building trends and the need to keep in step with this State mandate for multi family housing, that land owner must have the approval of the voters of Yorba Linda.

Heres the REAL NEWS FLASH, the projects that are pending right now, the ones that are the alleged basis for the RECALL, have been so approved.  The voters, the residents, the citizens of Yorba Linda, voted for and approved the properties that are now being prepared to construct apartments.  This is happening, you voted or ignored it and didn’t vote, but these city council members, who are being targeted for recall DID NOT APPROVE these apartments to be built in Yorba Linda.

I have said it before, there is NO SANTA CLAUS.  Especially in politics.

The only correct vote on the October ballot is a NO vote on the recall.

Noteworthy as well, is that Tom Lindsey is up for reelection in November.  So even if he is recalled in October, he is on the November ballot.  Yep.  These are the geniuses who want to replace him.  They want us the citizens to spend upward of $300,000.00 for their personal vendettas, while they flush our money literally down the toilet.  How much mitigation could that money have accomplished on the projects in question, in traffic issues, walls and barriers, landscaping.  There are things that could have been done to deal with the NIMBYs but we’re spending this money just whining about it.

It accomplishes nothing. Shame on Nancy Rikel and her band of political thugs for doing this. Shame on all of you who have whined about the apartments being build in your backyard and your recent interest and involvement in local politics.  Where were you in 2008, in 2010, and even before when solutions to these issues were being debated and resolved?  Now that there are bulldozers in the neighborhood you’re all full of interest and determination.  There is truly nothing that can be done about this now, nothing that can be changed, and these efforts are in vain and much to the detriment of the city overall.

Everyone needs to do themselves a favor and get informed.  If we do not become a city of informed voters we will continue to be victimized and have our cities coffers raided systematically by these warring factions.  When are we going to say enough and end this? Change is the only norm in life and in society.  Whining about what we don’t like does not bring back the past.  These recall supporters have promised things that they have no ability to deliver and Yorba Linda, please wake up, they have their hands in your pockets.  Again.

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