It’s that time of year again where members of the Legislature will be introducing new legislation and the author of SB 277, Senator Richard Pan, is back, introducing SB 18. Fox & Hounds provides the latest battle in the first piece below. The piece quotes my position at the time SB 277 was being considered (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 277 — April 30, 2015 april 30, 2015 john moorlach).
The reverberations over SB 277 continue. I realized the significance of it when opponents of this particular bill had decided to exact a price against an incredible first-term, Republican Assemblywoman. When they informed me, it gave me cause for great concern. It’s hard to say that their efforts were the deciding factor in Young Kim’s loss, but if it was, then it is a shame that such an excellent public servant had to pay such a steep price.
Not too long after SB 277 passed, the documentary "Vaxxed" was released (see http://vaxxedthemovie.com/). I would strongly encourage you to view it if you have an interest in this subject. Two recollections from the documentary. The first is that taking vaccines before the age of 18 months is problematic, so mothers of newborns would be well served to watch the documentary. The second is the fact that, unlike new drugs, vaccines do not go through control group studies.
The Producer of "Vaxxed," Del Bigtree, was in my office on Monday with a group of "Moms." (So, for the other concerned "Moms" that would like to meet on this issue, I’ve held a meeting and it’s unnecessary to contact my scheduler for additional appointments–I’m on it.)
The second piece below deals with school bonds and is in the California Political Review, observing a piece on the California Policy Center website. It addresses key concerns about the costs of this funding technique (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Propositions 51 and 53 — September 3, 2016 september 3, 2016 john moorlach).
This Session my office has introduced SB 7, School Bond Transparency, which is sponsored by an association of which I have served as an officer, the California Association of County Treasurers and Tax Collectors (see http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB7).
The third and final piece is in the OC Register and features an interview with one of my former Treasurer’s Advisory Committee members. Mayor Jerry Slusiewicz even made kind remarks about me in his swearing-in ceremony last week. Fun life.
By John SeilerFormer Editorial Writer at the Orange County Register
Watch out for the Moms! I wrote earlier how a decade ago California homeschool Moms defeated Delaine Eastin’s attack on them.
In the Nov. 8 election, Moms also played a role in defeating Republican Assemblymember Young Kim in the 65th District, giving Democrats their two-thirds majority in both houses of the Legislature.
The Moms were upset Kim was the only Republican who in 2015 supported Senate Bill 277, by state Sen. Richard Pan of Sacramento, which mandated 10 vaccines be injected into the children in not just public, but private schools. The large number of vaccines was of particular concern, as was the removal of the “conscience exemption.” Opposition centered not on the efficacy of vaccines, but forcing them on children against the rights of the parents and the kids’ health.
The Republican Party officially opposed the bill. However, the anti-vax group includes many Democratic Moms.
At the time, state Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, explained his opposition to the bill, “In the debate over who owns one’s body versus what is the limit to public health, I am very uncomfortable about forcing vaccinations on children when there are legitimate concerns that are held by certain parents (see http://traceamounts.com/). Without getting into a lengthy discussion, I would just state that certain infants have had reactions to vaccinations. And education and modification may go a lot further than mandatory requirements.”
On Nov. 8, Kim got 46.8% of the vote, losing to Sharon Quirk-Silva, who got 53.2%. That was about the opposite of the vote two years ago, when Kim won with 54.6% to Quirk-Silva’s 45.4%, and became a rising star in the party.
“I’d like to think we helped to defeat Kim,” Stefanie Fetzer told me; she’s one of the leaders of the Moms against the mandatory vaccines. “We did a few things to educate voters on her stand against parental rights.” She said about 50 Moms were active in the anti-Kim effort, with 7,000 Moms active statewide in the general effort against SB277.
According to FollowtheMoney.org, contributors to Kim’s campaign included: $13,700 from the California Medical Association, which backed the vaccine bill; and $1,000 or more each from the following pharmaceutical companies: Astrazeneca, Pfizer, Allergan, Takeda, Zhang and Mallinkrodt.
Quirk-Silva also received $15,200 from the pharmaceutical industry. So as they said during Watergate: Follow the money. With her victory, Quirk-Silva is on the hot seat.
Now the Moms are hopping mad about a new bill to control parents, Senate Bill 18, also by Sen. Pan. It reads, “This bill would declare the intent of the Legislature to expand and codify the Bill of Rights for Children and Youth of California to establish a comprehensive framework that governs the rights of all children and youth in California, outlines the research-based essential needs of California’s children, and establishes standards relating to the health, safety, well-being, early childhood and educational opportunities, and familial supports necessary for all children to succeed.”
Fetzer said, “It’s touted as a children’s bill of rights, but it gives the state unlimited authority over on how we parent.” The Moms are working on a new website, SB18Takedown.com, which may be up by the time you read this.
Of course, if the Legislature really wanted to help children, in particular their “educational opportunities,” it would fix the state’s bottom-performing schools, such as through a voucher system, or with adequate safeguards against abusive teachers. But the teachers unions adamantly oppose any real reforms.
Another factor is that, even if the legislation is passed in California, SB18 almost certainly would be opposed by Donald Trump’s nominee to head the federal Department of Education, Betsy DeVos. The Republican Congress might even pass legislation banning such interference in parental rights.
And should a case go to the U.S. Supreme Court, by then a couple of conservative Trump justices will be on the bench.
As the recent election also showed, including Bernie Sanders’ surprising appeal in the Democratic Party, regular Americans are just tired of being ordered around by the establishment and its “experts.” The revolt is here, led by the Moms.
Longtime California columnist John Seiler’s email: writejohnseiler
Ring: How to Identify a “Good” Bond
When I saw this article by Ed Ring my first impulse was, there are no good bonds. Bonds are debt, doubled in cost to the face value, creating debt for 30 years—paid for by people not born yet and by folks living 2,000 miles away today.
Should bonds be used as political payoffs to unions? In California if the State provides any money for a project, the project must payoff the unions by hiring ONLY those that pay bribes—or pay the workers the same as if they paid bribes. This adds 15-20% to the cost of projects—money for bribes, not productive.
“(7) Project Labor Agreements: If the bond doesn’t explicitly prohibit cost-boosting Project Labor Agreements, then it is likely they will be incorporated. By excluding non-union shops from the bidding process, project costs are inflated by between 10% and 40%, all of which is borned by taxpayers.
If this is in the bond, run from it. A few years ago a school district passed a bond on the basis the PLA would not be used. As soon as it passed, the Board of Trustees announced they LIED and would use the project to pay off the unions. Good bonds? Hard to find an honest one.
By Ed Ring, California Policy Center
On November 8th, Californians approved Prop. 51, authorizing $9.0 billion in new borrowing for construction and upgrades of public schools. Also on November 8th, Californians approved 171 local bond measures, authorizing over $22 billion in additional financing for construction and upgrades of public schools.
This new borrowing is only to construct and upgrade K-12 and community college campuses. Total K-12 enrollment in California has been stable at around 6.3 million students for over a decade. Community college enrollment in California is about 2.1 million students. This means that this latest round of borrowing equates to $3,735 per student. And similar sums are thrown at California’s K-12 schools and community colleges for construction and upgrades every two years. What gives?
One of the most obvious problems with voter approved bonds in California is the preference given school bonds. Proposition 39, passed in Nov. 2000, reduced the supermajority needed to pass a bond issue ballot question from 66% to 55%. Meanwhile, all other public construction bonds still need the 66% supermajority. Inevitably, this law has resulted in abundant money flowing into school construction, while neglecting roads and other public infrastructure.
We asked State Senator John Moorlach, the only licensed CPA to hold office in California’s state legislature, and one of the most financially savvy individuals in Sacramento, to comment on what might constitute a “good” bond. Here is his checklist:
(1) Plan: A detailed plan that itemizes what projects will be funded with the bond proceeds is essential. How will bonds be issued and proceeds spent? Most bond measures fall short of providing itemized budgets that clearly explain the use of funds, which magnifies the opportunities for wasteful spending.
(2) Oversight: How will the implementation of the projects funded by a bond be monitored. Who will sit on the oversight board and how will people with conflicts of interest be screened out. What authority will the citizen board have if they uncover misuse of funds? Will they be able to stop work on a project?
(3) Terms: The devil is in the details. A fairly written bond contract will have a ratio of total principal and interest payments to principal of between two-to-one and three-to-one. But bonds still slip through, avoiding informed scrutiny by a financial expert, that can have ratios of total payments to principal amount as high as ten-to-one. Costs of issuance are another area where abuse occurs. A fairly written bond contract will award the underwriters between one and two percent. A small bond, say, under $10 million, may command a fee of around three percent. More than that is unfair to taxpayers.
(4) Reserves: How much cash will be set aside so that district won’t return with more requests for money? Many school districts have new bond measures on the ballot every two years. But the payments on these each of these bonds, not subject to any Prop. 13 restrictions, increase property tax assessments for thirty years or more. With school enrollment in California stable for over ten years, where is this money going?
(5) Maintenance: It is common to see the term “deferred maintenance” listed as one the uses of proceeds for a proposed bond. When new construction is financed with a bond, how much cash will be set aside to maintain these facilities? Equally pertinent, why can’t this maintenance be funded out of operating budgets?
(6) Promotional Funding: Is the campaign supporting a bond paid for by the people who’ll benefit from the bond? There is a clear conflict of interests when the most active participants in the paid political debate over whether or not voters should support a new bond proposal are the underwriters who will collect fees, the construction firms who will do the work, and the teachers unions who will always favor more facilities on their campuses.
(7) Project Labor Agreements: If the bond doesn’t explicitly prohibit cost-boosting Project Labor Agreements, then it is likely they will be incorporated. By excluding non-union shops from the bidding process, project costs are inflated by between 10% and 40%, all of which is borned by taxpayers.
A California Policy Center study released in 2015, “For the Kids” – Comprehensive Review of California School Bonds,” estimated that between 2000 and 2014, California’s voters approved, on average, $10 billion per year on new school bonds. Since then, through November 8th, voters have approved at least another $40 billion of new school bonds. Not including the interest on bonds still outstanding that were issued before 2000, the interest and principal payments on this $180 billion in school bond borrowing costs taxpayers at least $11.7 billion per year.
Adopting these seven criteria to evaluate bonds will go a long way towards ensuring that bond debt is approved by informed voters, and that the proceeds serve the people, especially the students, instead of special interests.
* * *
Ed Ring is the vice president of research policy for the California Policy Center.
Meet Jerry Slusiewicz, Laguna Niguel’s newest mayor
By SHANE NEWELL / STAFF WRITER
Second-term Laguna Niguel councilman Jerry Slusiewicz, 55, was elected mayor for 2017 at the Dec. 6 council meeting. The financial planner and radio host is married with two teenagers and a dog. Slusiewicz is a self-described “hack magician” and five-year member of the Magic Castle in Hollywood.
Q: What skills or qualities make you best equipped to lead the city?
A: I spent four years as a council member under great leadership such as Linda Lindholm, Robert Ming, Jerry McCloskey and Laurie Davies. I learned a lot just by watching them. I spent five years on the planning commission, which gave insight to many public and private projects going on all around the city. I spent six years on the Laguna Niguel Investment Banking and Audit Committee – so I had a very good understanding of our financial position as well as where and how much money we take in annually in order to run a positive budget. Also, I served on former Orange County Treasurer John Moorlach’s Treasurer’s Advisory Committee for eight years, so I was able to learn and understand fiscal conservatism with public funds from one of the very best in public service.
Q: What will your priorities be as mayor?
A: As always, people come first. Having fun places to play and live for our children and families and healthy activities for our seniors are a top priority. Keeping the community safe for our residents is also at the top. In addition, we have many projects in their early stages – such as the Downtown Agora, the Crown Valley Park as well as the Gateway Projects that need to be moved along or completed. The last election pointed out that there is some dissension and misinformation regarding these projects. I plan to hold some educational meetings for concerned residents so everyone can better understand how and why the city is moving forward for the betterment of the entire community.
Q: You talked about the need for increased communication among the city and its residents. How do you plan to improve this ongoing dialogue?
A: Last year, Mayor Davies implemented a quarterly “Meet the Mayor” event, which allowed for open dialogue between residents and city government. I thought she did a great job with it and I hope to continue these. However there are several more controversial issues which caused division during the last election that I feel need to be addressed. One of the keys that has made Laguna Niguel so successful as a place to live and work has been an esprit de corps attitude that has existed over our 27-year history. We are moving more into an adolescent stage as a community. There are factions growing, where I feel many residents are resistant to change. I want to help alleviate those fears of the future because like it or not, change is the only constant and that applies to Laguna Niguel as well.
Q: How did serving as mayor pro tem prepare you for your current position?
A: Being the mayor pro tem, one has the opportunity to work very closely with the current mayor. I had the good fortune to work with one of the best, Laurie Davies. Laurie is smart, dynamic, business-oriented and more than capable to handle the many facets of being mayor. She is very involved locally, regionally as well as on a state level. She allowed not just me as pro tem but all of the council members to participate at the various functions we attended. I hope to continue with that practice.
Q: Who has been one of your biggest heroes over the years? Why?
A: My biggest hero is far and away my dad, Richard, who is almost 86 years old. He immigrated to this country at age 20 after growing up as a front-row witness to World War II. He watched his home, school and family business in Warsaw, Poland, reduced to rubble from the blitzkrieg bombings. Many family members perished in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. Fortunately, my dad survived and was freed by US Allies, which changed his destiny. It didn’t start well here in the U.S., as he was almost immediately sent to Korea for a UN-sanctioned war before he spoke the English language. He survived that war too, which granted him citizenship, given by former President Gerald Ford while he was still just a congressman in conservative Grand Rapids, Michigan. A lack of a formal education has nothing to do with ambition and intelligence, and my father proved this over his lifetime.
Contact the writer: snewell
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