Category Archives: California Blog

Parents of School Children are Fighting Back

The Just Vote No Blog recently discussed California’s BLM-inspired schools. Identity politics has permeated schools as it has other sectors of society. Some are fighting back. In San Francisco, a fuse that ignited a revolt was the Board of Education’s decision to change the merit-based admission policy of Lowell High School to a lottery-based system. This decision will bring Lowell down to the mediocre level of other San Francisco government/union-run schools.

One school official caught in the maelstrom is Alison Collins, Vice President of the San Francisco Board of Education. Her unfortunate Tweets insinuating that Asians behave like white supremacists to get ahead placed Ms. Collins in a difficult position. She offended both the race-focused progressives and the traditional-education-focused parents of Lowell High students. Mission Local in an article dated March 23, explains the situation well.

A petition calling for Ms. Collins ejection from the School Board has been posted on Change.org.

Perhaps petitions and other means of raising awareness need to be posted regarding the broader issue: school officials that descend into race peddling.

The BLM-Inspired Schools of California

On one of the windows of a public Marin County middle school there was recently not a display of children’s work or announcements of school events.  There was instead a poster issued by Black Lives Matter at School asking for a pledge of support for,

Restorative Justice. Transgender Affirming. Globalism. Collective Value. Queer Affirming. Unapologetically Black.  Loving Engagement.  Empathy. Intergenerational. Black Villages.  Black Women. Black Families. Diversity. 

One would have to wonder how a 12-year old might interpret this complex pledge.  Parents, as well as taxpayers, might want to ask themselves how time spent discussing such concepts affect time available to learn skills like reading and math. 

This Black Lives Matter at School poster falls comfortably under political propaganda.  The objective of all propaganda is to convert as many hearts and minds as possible.  Therefore, parents and taxpayers should know what they and their children are being recruited for. 

The BLM at School website from which the poster in question can be procured makes quite clear what the group wants their recruits to support.  As all attempts at winning hearts and minds, BLM at School principles contain both positive and dangerous objectives.  And, as is often the case, positive messages of love and understanding do not pass muster when the more aggressive messages are explored.  Here are samples from the BLM at School website.

It is our duty to fight for our freedom.  It is our duty to win.  We must love each other and support each other.  We have nothing to lose but our chains.   ~Assata Shakur

We are committed to collectively, lovingly, and courageously working vigorously for freedom and justice for Black people and, by extension, all people. As we forge our path, we intentionally build and nurture a beloved community that is bonded together through a beautiful struggle that is restorative, not depleting.

We are committed to fostering a queer‐affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking or, rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual unless s/he or they disclose otherwise.

We are committed to disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, and especially “our” children to the degree that mothers, parents and children are comfortable.

The first objective quoted above might need clarification for those not familiar with Assata Shakur.  Ms. Shakur, a former member of the Black Liberation Army, is presently residing in Cuba, where she received asylum following her escape from prison in 1984. Her crime was murder of a state trooper during a 1973 shootout.  Her brother, Mutulu Shakur, also a member of the BLA is still incarcerated for his role in a 1981 Brinks armored truck robbery, in which two policemen (one, by the way, Black) and one Brinks guard were murdered.  In violent struggles for liberation people die, regardless of all professed love and justice.

Ms. Shakur is not the only radical honored in the BLM at School website.  Another name that should stand out, especially to residents of San Francisco, is BLM at School endorser Bill Ayers, a leader of the Weather Underground and foster parent of San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin.  However, his role in several bombings in protest of the Vietnam War during the late 1960s and 1970s is not what is significant here. 

Bill Ayers, along with other prominent radicals like Bernardine Dohrn (Weather Underground leader and retired Northwestern University law professor) and Kathy Boudin (Weather Underground leader and Columbia University co-founder of the Center for Justice), pivoted from violence to education (or indoctrination).  After his Weather Underground days, Ayers became known for his work in education theory, education reform, curriculum and instruction.

Things roll downhill, and the race/gender-focused socialism that radicals brought into universities is now sipping into primary schools.

The Marin County middle school poster could have been the idea of one teacher or one parent for all we know.  The concern here is not with that particular school, but with a wider trend of mainstreaming radicalism in children’s schools.  The California Department of Education website has a section describing California’s Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum and containing the following in the lesson plan.

… develop an understanding and analyze the effectiveness of #BlackLivesMatter and the broader Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), specifically delving into the movement’s structure, key organizations, and tactics/actions used to respond to incidents of police brutality…

The ultimate questions for parents and taxpayers need to be:  Is reform of schools, criminal justice, and some cultural conventions desirable at this time?  What is the track record of the race/gender-focused education that has gained ground during the past three decades?  Are parents and taxpayers these days willing to speak up if their answer to the first question is “Yes” and to the second question is “Lousy?”

This article was written for California Political News & Views, March 23, 2021

Governor Newsom’s Recall Turns Real

What started as a Quixotic effort to remove California Governor Gavin Newsom from office, has now turned serious. The Recall Gavin Newsom campaign has gathered as of the beginning of March 2021, 1.9 million signatures. California requires 1.5 million signatures for the recall to appear on the ballot. Looks like there are almost 2 million folks that are past their tolerance point for Newsom.

What has this once popular California governor done to deserve such fate? Is he so much worse than other progressive governors? Probably not.

However, constituents have grown skeptical of Newsom’s incessant swagger about California being an economic powerhouse as homeless tents pop up everywhere, public pensions become unsustainable, and California’s middle class dwindles. Workers are tired of being thrown out of jobs, first by legislation that strangles small businesses, and presently by lockdowns. Parents of public school children are seeing their children fall behind in their education as Newsom’s children attend in-person instruction in private school.

Such disregard for the common people has marked Gavin Newsom as the quintessential establishment elite – someone who conceives a self-serving vision of what people need and proceeds to impose the vision on the populace regardless of realities. The Recall is a reaction to Newsom’s perceived elitism as much as it is an attempt to put an end to his misguided policies.

The Recall Gavin Newsom campaign claims 80,000 grassroots volunteers that can be relied upon to waive signs and collect recall signatures. Campaign organizers say they have raised almost $4 million, mostly from wealthy donors within California, but some also from Nevada ($29,250), Kansas ($26,000), Texas ($20,100), and Arizona ($6,525). Interestingly, San Francisco – solidly Democrat and committedly progressive – stands second after Irvine in Newsome Recall donations.

The litany of Newsom failures listed on the Recall document include the following:

  • Housing unaffordable to the middle class
  • Exploding homelessness
  • Rising crime
  • Failing public schools
  • Harassment of independent contractors
  • Unsustainable public pension debt
  • Infringement of 2nd Amendment rights
  • Sanctuary laws that fail to screen out criminals
  • High taxes
  • Poor water management
  • A dysfunctional Employment Development Departments
  • Extreme overreach in dealing with Covid-19
  • Public schools closed for nearly a year
  • Inability to control teachers union refusal to resume in-person teaching.
  • A last straw occurred when Newsom and his wife were caught dining with lobbyists at the posh French Laundry eatery after he recommended that his constituents dine alone on Thanksgiving.

The establishment elite – not to be confused with the merely rich — operate by rules that grow without regard to what the populace want or need. For example, the Recall document mentions Assembly Bill 5, which assumes everyone wants to be an employee rather than an independent contractor, thus ruining the livelihood of many happily self employed workers.

The establishment elite do not seem to notice that often there is a discrepancy between what they mandate and what they do, as exemplified by Newsom’s French Laundry incident.

Thus, Gavin Newsom’s image stands as dubious as his policies, and a recall election to give voters a chance to weigh in on how seriously they take this matter is warranted.

In Defense of the Governor’s Partying While We Dine Alone

California Governor Gavin Newsom has issued numerous directives, instructions and guidelines regarding COVID-19, all describing in great detail what residents of the state can and cannot do. One activity specifically verboten is partying indoors by members of several households. One suggestion especially idiosyncratic is wearing a mask while dining — admittedly a difficult scenario to visualize, leaving one to feel obliged to wear a mask between bites.

Therefore, California residents were justifiably confused when news broke that Governor Newsom on November 6, attended a dinner, along with several other guests, in celebration of the birthday of lobbyist Jason Kinney. The venue was the elite Napa Valley restaurant French Laundry.

Enter U.S. Congressman for California’s 4th District, Tom McClintock, a conservative Republican whose libertarian streak is known to liberty-loving communities. On November 19, on the House floor, Congressman McClintock delivered a speech in defense of Governor Newsom’s maskless cozy dinner.

The speech is must-read

Mr. Speaker:

I rise this morning in defense of Governor Gavin Newsom who recently defied his own idiotic Covid edicts as he partied at one of the few restaurants that he has not yet forced out of business. I defend him because he was doing what we all once did in a free society: make our own decisions over what risks we are willing to run and what precautions we are willing to take according to our own circumstances to protect our own health.

Yes, Covid is a nasty bug and a quarter of a million Americans have died while having it. But this isn’t the Bubonic Plague. The CDC’s best estimate is that if you are under 49, your chance for surviving Covid – it you get it – is 99.92 percent. Even for those over 70 the survival rate is 94.6 percent.

Forty percent who get it don’t even know they have it. Yet we have allowed our officials to ruin our quality of life over it – destroying countless businesses, throwing tens of millions into unemployment, robbing our children of their educations and shredding our most cherished rights as Americans.

Governor Newsom’s night of partying should be a wake-up call to every American.

Every time we step outside our homes, the risks we face multiply. A free society assumes that its citizens are competent to assess those risks, balance them against the avoidance costs, and to manage their decisions in a generally responsible way. It’s called common sense, and it’s a necessary prerequisite for self-government and liberty.

The choices of an octogenarian with emphysema might be very different from those of a healthy governor in California. Only a fool would claim the omniscience to make an informed judgment for every person in every circumstance in every community. Sadly, this crisis has revealed that fools abound in public office and that a fool with power can quickly become a petty tyrant.

Which brings us back to Governor Newsom. These government nannies love to tell us that they’re just following the science. What does the science tell us? It tells us that Covid poses virtually no risk to children but can be severe among the elderly. So, what did these lockdown leftists do? They closed all the schools and ordered infected patients into nursing homes!

The science tells us that outdoor transmissions of the virus are extremely rare and that 80 percent of infections occur in people’s homes. So what did these lockdown leftists do? They closed our beaches, parks and campgrounds and ordered people to stay at home!

The science tells us that obesity is a contributing factor to the severity of the disease. So what did these lockdown leftists do? They closed all the gyms and kept the liquor stores open!

These lockdowns haven’t saved lives. The states with the most stringent lockdowns generally have the highest mortality rates from Covid. Utah stayed open while next door, Colorado shut down. Utah currently has half the Covid mortality rate and 3/4 the unemployment rate as Colorado. But the lockdowns have cost countless lives from suicides, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, and deferred health screenings and treatments.

Recently, Governor Newsom demanded that restaurant diners replace their masks after every bite, but also minimize the times they take them off. I guess that means take very big bites. Thanksgiving dinners are allowed in California, but only when they are held outside, guests are seated six feet apart, and they last no more than two hours. It’s all right to use the bathroom, but only if it is frequently sanitized. Otherwise, presumably you’ll just have to use the bushes. And for God’s sake – NO SINGING!

I have wondered how much longer the American people are going to tolerate this nonsense?

So let us not criticize Governor Newsom. Perhaps he has just offered us all deliverance from his own folly.

Nor should we criticize the California legislators who ignored travel and quarantine restrictions to junket to Hawaii. Nor should we ridicule Speaker Pelosi for choosing not to wear a mask in a hair salon that was forced to close for the rest of us.

Good for them. They’re demonstrating by their own actions the freedom that every American citizen needs to reclaim from these very same people. The governor SHOULD make his own decisions about running his own life. I only ask that he and his ilk would stop telling the rest of us how to run ours.

Rule Makers Need Not Be Inconvenienced

Congressman McClintock touched upon a truth that must not be ignored. Politicians often belong to elite circles that thrive in the acquisition of power. Their default modus operandi is “For your own safety and the safety of your neighbors, follow my rules.” There is no covenant that the rule maker follow those same rules. Power grows as constituents are rendered increasingly fearful and receptive to obedience in exchange for perceived protection. Rule makers need not be inconvenienced.

(Featured picture posted by Fox News)

Taxes Disguised as Fees Raiding Your Pockets

The California Supreme Court accepted for review on October 14, 2020, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association vs. Bay Area Toll Authority. Those who recall the 2018 epic battle pro and con Regional Measure 3 (RM3), which raised bridge tolls by $3, might not be surprised.

The Court granted and held the HJTA case pending disposition of a similar case, Zolly v. City of Oakland. So, it will be a while.

The basic issue with RM3 is whether it is a fee – as supporters claim – or a tax — as opponents point out. RM3 passed with 55% voter approval. Article XIII, Section 3 of the California Constitution requires two thirds approval for passage of a tax.

Article XIII, Section 3 is the Constitutional Amendment approved by voters November 2010 as Proposition 26. Prop 26 was intended to put a break on the proliferation of taxes and fees emptying the pockets of California residents.

Difference Between a Tax and A Fee

Article XIII, Section 3 says any charge is a tax except what the Section specifically says is a fee:

“(b) As used in this section, “tax” means any levy, charge, or exaction of any kind imposed by the State, except the following:

(1) A charge imposed for a specific benefit conferred or privilege granted directly to the payor that is not provided to those not charged, and which does not exceed the reasonable costs to the State of conferring the benefit or granting the privilege to the payor.

(2) A charge imposed for a specific government service or product provided directly to the payor that is not provided to those not charged, and which does not exceed the reasonable costs to the State of providing the service or product to the payor.

(3) A charge imposed for the reasonable regulatory costs to the State incident to issuing licenses and permits, performing investigations, inspections, and audits, enforcing agricultural marketing orders, and the administrative enforcement and adjudication thereof.

(4) A charge imposed for entrance to or use of state property, or the purchase, rental, or lease of state property, except charges governed by Section 15 of Article XI.

(5) A fine, penalty, or other monetary charge imposed by the judicial branch of government or the State, as a result of a violation of law. “

(Article XI, Section 15, of the California Constitution refers to “revenues derived from taxes imposed pursuant to the Vehicle License Fee Law.”)

The Problem With RM3

Regional Measure 3 exacts a charge to motorists crossing the Bay Area’s State-owned bridges. But revenues derived from that charge are not limited to benefiting motorists by building highways or fixing potholes. The bulk of RM3 revenues benefits users of other modes of transportation, like public transit riders, bicyclists, and walkers.

RM3 is intended to fund a wide variety of improvements to Bay Area mobility. Therefore, the measures’ charge to motorists exceeds the cost of benefits received by motorists.

The use of revenues derived from RM3 make the measure clearly a tax, according to Clauses 1) and 2) of Section 3, Article XIII.

Proponents’ Argument

What argument could proponents of Regional Measure 3 make in view of Clauses 1) and 2)?

Aside from arguments that amount to we want the money, proponents argue that RM3 falls under Clause 4), a charge to enter or use state-owned property. They also argue that Clause 4) is not subject to the relationship of charge to payer vs. benefit to payer as are Clauses 1) and 2). Clause 4) does not have the wording on charge vs. benefit that Clauses 1) and 2) have.

Enter Zolly vs. City of Oakland

Robert Zolly, owner of an Oakland apartment building, joined two other small-property landlords in suing the City of Oakland. The lawsuit claims that the city’s fee for hauling garbage far exceeds the cost of hauling said garbage. Indeed it does, because the haulers’ franchise costs are included in the garbage-collecting fee. A portion representing the haulers’ franchise pass through is placed in Oakland’s general fund to cover expenses not related to garbage collection.

The Court sees a comparison between using garbage-hauling fees to fund general city services, and using bridge tolls to fund public transit and other modes of mobility. A strict adherence to Article XIII, Section 3 would render such use of funds unconstitutional.

Bigger Issues

Regional Measure 3 is the brainchild of the Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). MTC is an agency easy to dislike. Its commissioners are appointed, not elected. However, MTC’s power to determine the destiny of the San Francisco Bay Area keeps growing.

Although MTC is a transportation agency, it is deeply involved in housing policy. Its Committee to House the Bay Area (CASA) has been a powerful influence behind state and local legislation dealing with evictions, rent caps, rent assistance, and other housing-related mandates.

There is a crucial difference between Regional Measure 3 and Measures 1 and 2. RM3 carried a mandate that all nine Bay Area Counties had to place RM3 on their ballots whether they liked it or not, and passage was based on votes aggregated from all nine counties. More of this strategy should be expected, as indicated by plans to place Faster Bay Area on a future ballot. RM3 contributed to the ongoing blurring of what a legal voters’ jurisdiction is supposed to be.

Your Pockets Are At Peril

There are pitfalls inherent in the kind of “regional planning” exemplified by RM3. If the Court sides with RM3 proponents, extracting money from Bay Area residents will become a lot easier. Proposals for tax increases disguised as fees will rain upon all our heads.

SF Bay Area: Pitch Dark at Noon!

Here in California things are getting “curiouser and curiouser.” Like Alice falling through the rabbit hole and facing the challenges of Wonderland. On Wednesday, September 9, 2020, things in the San Francisco Bay Area got really curiouser.

“Oh my”, we all said when we woke up. “Where is the sun?” Still by noontime, the skies were darker than eventide – except for a fearsome reddish-orange glow. “The fires,” we all said.

“The fires,” we say in somber tones. Climate change, and it’s all our fault.

Maybe those dark skies might also be related to poor forest management, but who knows. All we know is maybe next come the locusts.

The San Francisco Chronicle carried great pictures of the event. Worth seeing. One of the pictures is featured here.

When Challenges Highlight Shortcomings

homelessness

In difficult times, we say “This too will pass.” Difficulties do pass, and our lives do return to normalcy (albeit at times a new normalcy). However, returning to normalcy usually means returning to a status quo. Often, the status quo is a variable that contributed to the difficulties in the first place.

The Just Vote No Blog recommends this article published today in California Political News & Views: COVID-19 Highlights Shortcomings.

The status quo in California includes massive homelessness, drug use, economically vulnerable residents, and inferior government schools among other ills. Enormous amounts of money, effort and focus are allocated to those ills, leaving social and economic structures poorly attended.

Thus, returning to normalcy might not be a good thing, unless that normalcy includes an effort to change the status quo.

There are Two Californias: Why Pretend there is Only One?

Scales of justice

In California, residents of the coastal cities are different from those who live inland. There is a similar divide between people who live in coastal states and people who live in inland states. Do these two factions enjoy equal say?

Inland states, less populous than coastal states, enjoy equal say in the U.S. Senate, where all states are represented by an equal number of Senators. However, residents of inland California have zero say, since the California Senate structure is based on population, exactly the same as the California Assembly. The needs of inland Californians might be entirely different from those of coastal Californians, but the inland people must live under rules developed and approved by the populous coastal people.

It was not always that way. At one time California operated under the U.S. Senate model, and all its Senatorial districts were represented by an equal number of state Senators. In those days farmers in the Central Valley had a change to compete with their big-city brethren.

That all changed in 1964 when an activist U.S. Supreme Court under the leadership of “Living Constitution” advocate Earl Warrant, declared in Reynolds vs. Sims that all state Senate seats needed to be allocated based on population.

One of the first things the newly empowered big-city folks did was to change the California Legislature from part time to full time. That happened in 1966. A full-time legislature is usually defined as one that meets throughout the year, while a part-time legislature meets for a portion of the year. For reference, today we have 10 full time state legislatures out of 50.

1966 marked the birth of the professional California politician, without other means of support, who keeps recycling through the state’s political system. It started the exponential growth in the volume of bills micromanaging every nook and cranny to be found. Staff, salaries, benefits, taxes, fees all grew as well.

For those readers interested in the first part of the new reality – Reynolds vs Sims, and the resulting neglect of farmers in the Central Valley – here is a link to an article in the California Political News & Views. Note that in his introduction to the article, publisher Steve Frank, mentions the ruinous results of California moving to a full-time legislature:  All California is Not Alike.

Would Even Bigger Government Fix California?

Big Government

The California Secretary of State cleared for signature gathering voters’ initiative 19-0012, that would do the following if passed:

* Replace the current partisan bicameral legislature with a non-partisan unicameral one.

* Increase the number of legislators from 40 State Senators and 80 Assembly Members to 250 legislators intended to represent by 2024 80,000 to 100,000 persons for each legislator.

* According to the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, if passed this initiative would incur a one-time cost of hundreds of millions of dollars to expand the State Capitol in Sacramento to accommodate the new legislators, incur ongoing increased building maintenance costs of a few million dollars annually, and incur state costs of millions of dollars per year to oversee elections.

What are the Real Changes?

The substantive changes this initiative if passed would implement would be,

* A significant growth in government.

* A significant growth in legislators writing laws to govern California residents.

* A significant growth in costs, and thus presumably taxpayer obligations.

Can the Changes Accomplish Objectives?

Whether this initiative would accomplish its objectives might be questionable.

* There would be no change in California’s proportional representation based on population. Thus, the populous coastal areas would continue to dominate sparsely-populated inland areas.

* The hope that much smaller districts would afford residents better control of their representatives might be a consummation devoutly to be wished.

Representatives Without Representation

This Nation was born over the rallying cry “Taxation Without Representation!” Today perhaps the rallying cry should be “Representatives Without Representation!”

The Just Vote No Blog has often noted a new trend: Ideological legislators whose actions are based on what they believe is needed from their point of view, not based on what their constituents need or want.

We are not speaking here about unconstitutional proposals, which legislators should indeed reject. We are talking about ordinary things described in the Just Vote No Article Who Are California Legislators Working For?

Government Growth is Not The Solution But the Problem

Whether smaller districts at significantly increased costs would change the present ideological bent of legislators is something voters need to think about when considering increasing the size of our legislature.

Our Founding Fathers advocated a lean Federal government that focused on specific enumerated obligations.  They did not opine on how states should govern, as long as states operated withing the bounds of the Federal Constitution.

California’s government is anything but lean.  The volume of laws and regulations attempting to control every aspect of California residents’ lives is mind boggling.  Could residents in a smaller district control such a tsunami?

BART Considers Free Tickets to Remedy Dwindling Ridership

News from the San Francisco Bay Area’s rapid transit system is that ridership off-peak hours and weekends is dwindling, which impacts the BART District’s financial bottom line. In response BART is considering targeting that ridership with free and discounted promotional tickets, as well as a means-based ticket program.

Such response from marketing professionals is often routine. However, such response from BART is bizarre.

49% of people who responded to BART’s survey question “Why not ride BART on Weekends?” indicated concern about crime on BART (26%) and homelessness on BART (23%). There appears to be no follow up question whether if tickets were free potential riders would ignore these concerns, even if they could imagine the possibility of more homeless people and more people bent on crime also taking advantage of free rides.

BART ridership 2

BART Board Meeting February 13, 2020: Rebuilding Ridership

35% of respondents to the question “Why not Commute on BART?” indicated stations were too far from where the respondents lived. Would free tickets overcome that concern, even when BART officials eye removing “park & ride” spaces to get commuters out of their private vehicles, and even when there might not be viable ways for BART riders to reach stations other than by personal vehicle?BART survey

BART Board Meeting February 13, 2020:  Rebuilding Ridership

BART is not alone as a transit agency in its loss of revenue, but it serves as example of ravages inflicted by a cluster of intractable problems plaguing California:

* High costs of construction, operations and personnel leave little room for services such as providing sufficient security guards to ensure safety and custodians to ensure cleanliness.

* Astronomical housing costs that force people to move as far into suburbs as California’s stringent urban boundaries rules allow, where principal transit lines do not reach and local transit is scarce or non-existent.

* Large and growing numbers of homeless individuals that seek shelter in transit stations and ride public transit, especially during off-peak hours.

Homelessness is particularly problematic. Numbers are so large that they affect all social and economic sectors. Although BART finances are precarious, the agency can no longer focus on delivering effective transportation riders would be pleased to use. BART is now expected to divert resources away from transportation and toward dealing with homeless – and often mentally and emotionally impaired – individuals in stations and trains.

California officials fondly envision the death of the personal vehicle and the birth of a regional transit network serving Bay Area residents. At present, such vision falls under the category of cognitive dissonance.