L.A. Liberty

A Libertarian in Leftywood

Los Angeles Can’t Fix Its Sidewalks but Wants to Fine Citizens for Not Keeping Them Clean →

LA Schools' $1 Billion iPad Fiasco Ends After Corruption Revelations →

L.A. Schools Claim Immunity to Parent-Triggered Charter Movements This Year →

I pay a lot in taxes for this crap, and I have to pay extra to keep my kids from attending these schools.

Bastards.

California Embraces Pension-Spiking Bonanza →

After reading new state rules that detail 99 categories of “special pay” that can be used to spike a public employee’s pension, I was tempted to ask my editor for “special deadline pay” for filing columns on time. Maybe that boost could also lead to a higher pension calculation. Then again, like most private-sector workers, I don’t receive a pension. So never mind.

Pardon my facetiousness, but the decision by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) to engage this week in a pension-spiking extravaganza is infuriatingly brazen, even for Sacramento. It undermines the governor’s pension-reform law, although Jerry Brown’s objections to the CalPERS action seem lukewarm.

Under the current public pay system, clerical employees get extra cash for typing and taking dictation — activities that seem like basic parts of the job description. Likewise, police officers who attend physical-fitness programs get paid extra. Librarians get extra payments if they routinely help library patrons find books and resources.

Employees are given extra compensation for receiving and maintaining licenses that they are required to have to do their jobs. Likewise, groundskeepers get extra pay for working on sprinkler systems. … [M]ost are silly. For instance, employees get a boost for filling in for their bosses when they are away (“temporary upgrade pay”).

Now it gets worse. The newly passed CalPERS rules apply to government employees hired after the state passed its pension-reform law in 2013. The rules will also allow these extra pay categories to inflate new employees’ final “pensionable” pay — meaning that the extra dollars translate into permanently higher retirement pay. So much for reining in skyrocketing pension costs.

CalPERS claims that its action brings “needed clarity to the definition of what is pensionable compensation for new CalPERS members.” Of course, passing regulations that denied the use of special pay for pension increases would have brought clarity, also.

This situation — finding creative ways to increase pay as a means to gin up the salary upon which one’s pension is calculated — is the classic definition of “pension spiking.” Brown had railed against the practice when he signed the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act. It was largely about combating rampant spiking abuses.

Some of Brown’s foes argued that the union-friendly governor was only pushing that measure as a means to convince the public that the state is serious about reining in costs. At the time, polls showed voters skeptical about giving the Legislature more money (via the Proposition 30 tax increase) given its lack of discipline in tackling pensions and other debts. Ultimately, voters gave Brown what he wanted, and now Brown is watching as CalPERS and the unions undermine that modest reform.

In other words, voters helped create new tax increases foolishly hoping that it would help reign in rampant pension abuse. LOL

"What unions have argued is that, yes, there were abuses in the past, but that’s done … and we learned our lesson," said former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, a congressional candidate and pension-reform activist. "They haven’t learned a darn thing. (This CalPERS action) deflates their entire narrative."

CalPERS’ union-dominated board voted 7-5 last Wednesday to approve the regulations. The governor appeared to criticize the move: “Today CalPERS got it wrong. This vote undermines the pension reforms enacted just two years ago.” But Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters pointed out that Brown objected to only one of the 99 pension-spiking gimmicks.

The governor’s office told me it is considering all its options with regard to the CalPERS regulations. If so, there is a possible option to consider. All new regulations must go to the state Office of Administrative Law to make sure they conform to the requirements of the underlying legislation. The CalPERS rules fly in the face of the pension law, which was meant to calculate pensions on base pay.

The governor can file an objection. And he appoints the head of that law office. We’ll soon get to see if he is serious about defending his own pension law. Sadly, the odds that Brown will quash the CalPERS pension-spiking bonanza probably are similar to the odds that newspapers start giving out deadline pay.

This state is a joke. For your own sakes, the rest of you should really try to boot California from the U.S. lest it take you down with it.

Thank You Obamacare: Health Insurance Rates in California Have Soared as Much as 88 Percent →

#duh

California state insurance commissioner Dave Jones recently released an analysis – conducted in response to complaints regarding steep increases in health insurance rates – that compared 2013 and 2014 health insurance plan rates. The analysis found the average rate increases for people who had insurance in 2013 and bought 2014 coverage were between 22 and 88 percent, according Cal Watchdog.

Those with incomes that were low enough received premium subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. But many Californians whose incomes were not low enough received a major rate increase, Jones said.

“What the department found was that in many cases those purchasing 2014 coverage were paying significantly higher rates than what they had paid in 2013 and the beneficial differences in policies was minimal and therefore could not be justification for the significant rate increases,” said Janice Rocco, the deputy commissioner over health policy for the California Department of Insurance.

Moreover, significant annual hikes are expected in the years ahead.

Stephen Parente, a professor of health finance and the associate dean of the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, said these sharp premium hikes are just the beginning for Californians who don’t qualify for the Affordable Care Act.

“The increases will be above 3-4 percent a year and will probably average 6-8 percent on average over the next 20 years,” Parente said. “There will be a spike, unless the Obama administration changes its policies, in 2017, reports CW.

Government schools + police militarization:

Los Angeles Unified School District police officials are considering whether they need the armored vehicle and grenade launchers they received from the U.S. military.
The military hardware at the disposal of LAUSD police officers includes a 20-foot-long, 14-ton armored transport vehicles, much like the ones used to move Marines in Iraq combat zones. The armored vehicle is worth $733,000, and the school district’s police force got it from the government for free. …
The district is also in possession of grenade launchers, which it received for free from the military after 9/11. Neither the armored vehicle nor the grenade launchers have ever been used. But the district doesn’t plan on keeping [the grenade launchers].
“It’s a piece of equipment that’s not essential for our mission, so we will be disposing of those,” Zipperman said. …

Translation: “We got a lot of heat for these cool toys and the political ramifications to my elected boss means I’ll (eventually, maybe) get rid of the grenade launchers. But I’m going to pretend I’m not doing this because of said ramifications, even though I was under no obligation to accept the grenade launchers in the first place.”

The chief says the armored vehicle will stay but will only be deployed on his direct orders with the approval of the school superintendent.
“To suggest that it’s a threatening type of equipment or equipment for a show of force, that is not the case,” Zipperman said.

lol. OK, bro.

Government schools + police militarization:

Los Angeles Unified School District police officials are considering whether they need the armored vehicle and grenade launchers they received from the U.S. military.

The military hardware at the disposal of LAUSD police officers includes a 20-foot-long, 14-ton armored transport vehicles, much like the ones used to move Marines in Iraq combat zones. The armored vehicle is worth $733,000, and the school district’s police force got it from the government for free. …

The district is also in possession of grenade launchers, which it received for free from the military after 9/11. Neither the armored vehicle nor the grenade launchers have ever been used. But the district doesn’t plan on keeping [the grenade launchers].

“It’s a piece of equipment that’s not essential for our mission, so we will be disposing of those,” Zipperman said. …

Translation: “We got a lot of heat for these cool toys and the political ramifications to my elected boss means I’ll (eventually, maybe) get rid of the grenade launchers. But I’m going to pretend I’m not doing this because of said ramifications, even though I was under no obligation to accept the grenade launchers in the first place.”

The chief says the armored vehicle will stay but will only be deployed on his direct orders with the approval of the school superintendent.

“To suggest that it’s a threatening type of equipment or equipment for a show of force, that is not the case,” Zipperman said.

lol. OK, bro.

California Destroys Winery Over Use of Volunteers →

A stupid electorate attracts ridiculous politicians.

L.A.’s Terrible Streets Are Because of Bad Management, Not Lack of Money →

Ummm…

Ummm…

Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me. Most field stops are complete in minutes. How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?

— 

LAPD officer Sunil Dutta, writing 100% seriously in a WaPo op-ed entitled (I kid you not) “I’m a cop. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t challenge me.” (via hipsterlibertarian)

"Stop resisting!" A phrase exclusively said by rapists and police officers.

(via antigovernmentextremist)

Yup.

Most think and act this way, while the rest let them. Which means all cops are assholes. Yes, even your friend or loved one who you think is so great. Every single cop - even those who may be good people in their private lives - puts on the uniform and does three things: (1) collect a paycheck that is forcefully extracted from the populace through threats of violence (mostly taxes, though also through asset forfeiture), (2) enforce bad laws that violate the rights of people who have harmed no one, and (3) uphold the “thin blue line” that protects the particularly sadistic and corrupt among them (who are clearly not the minority).

A “good cop” is a cryptid.

(Source: kohenari, via antigovernmentextremist)

Property Rights in the People’s Republic of California and Elsewhere →

If you’re a landlord in California and your tenant turns into a nightmare the law will not be on your side in kicking them to the curb. Take two recent examples in the news.

A family has been living in fear after renting a room in their house to a woman, who turns out to be a serial squatter. After paying the rent dutifully for a year (in accordance with what most likely is the squatters’ creed) tenant Sara Rogers probably knew she now had the upper hand, thanks to the state. That’s when the nightmare for Carrie and her family began.

Everything was fine for the first year.

But in late 2013, Carrie said Roger’s friends moved in, she got cats, installed an air conditioner and started making a lot of noise at odd hours of the night.

“The screaming, the spanking, the moaning … that would wake the dead and my 5-year-old,” Carry [sic] said.

After confronting Rogers, Carrie found herself slapped with a cease and desist order for “criminal stalking and harassment.” Rogers then had the locks in the house changed and even barricaded herself in for a time by chaining the front door. When Carrie called the police, who thankfully didn’t show up and kill her, they were of no help of course, telling Carrie that she was in trouble because Rogers had an unsecured weapon in a house with a minor.

When Carrie consulted an attorney, one oddly enough who had represented Rogers in the past, he advised her that it would be better to just pay her off rather than go through the legal process, which both parties agreed to. Carrie says in all she has spent $40,000 on the ordeal.

Then there is the case of the nanny who stopped nannying:

A California family is struggling to evict their now-fired live-in nanny—and tenancy laws are on her side.

Marcella and Ralph Bracamonte hired Diane Stretton to care for the couple’s three children in exchange for room and board, but after only a few weeks she ceased her nannying duties and then refused to move out.

The legal experts who spoke with The Daily Beast explained that once a person is living in your home, having them removed immediately is virtually impossible unless they choose to leave voluntarily.

And, of course, this type of thing is by no means exclusive to California. DB goes on to describe similar laws in New York, but the same is true for most states. Bottom line, if you are considering renting your property, you simply must require references and pay to have a proper background check conducted, which could cost in the hundreds of dollars, else you are open to a similar nightmare. Even then, you may not be safe.

The Costs of Unions →

I’m shocked that California is only 11th worst. It’s usually bottom five in so many things.

LA Schools Realize Giving Every Kid an iPad Was a Costly Disaster, Will Give Every Kid a Laptop Instead →

"Skeptical," of course, would be an understatement.

Los Angeles Is Killing Itself →

Governments are corrupt and inefficient drains on societal progress and peace, always and everywhere. Trying to “improve” this inherently bureaucratic morass of ineptitude and shysterism tends to be an extreme exercise in futility. 

"Janet Yellen … constantly lectures us on Keynesian verities as if they were the equivalent of Newton’s Law or the Pythagorean Theorem. In fact, they constitute self-serving dogma of modern vintage that is marshaled to justify what is at bottom an economic absurdity. Namely, that through the primitive act of banging the securities “buy” key over and over and thereby massively expanding its balance sheet, the Fed can cause real wealth—-embodying the sweat of labor, the consumption of capital and the fruits of enterprise—-to magically expand beyond what the free market would generate on its own steam.

In a fit of professorial arrogance, Bernanke even had the gall to call this the helicopter money process. His contention was that the rubes on main street would happily scoop up the falling bills and coins and soon “spend” the economy into a fit of expansion. In other words, according to Bernanke the essential ingredient in economic life is money demand, which is a gift of the state’s central banking branch, rather than production, savings, innovation and enterprise, which arise on the free market in consequences of millions of workers and businesses pursuing their own ends.

Indeed, under Keynesian dogma the latter can be taken for granted; the supply of labor, enterprise and output is automatic and endless until an ethereal quantity called potential GDP is fully realized. To achieve the latter requires that the state dispense exactly the right level of money demand so that the rubes on main street will not stubbornly remain poorer than they need be. This unhappy estate happens, of course, owing to their inexorable propensity to withhold the production and enterprise of which they are capable (i.e. keep plants idle and labor unemployed).

Stated differently, under Yellen’s primitive bathtub economics there is no possibility of inflation unless the central bank mistakenly over-dispenses money demand to the point where actual GDP and the job count overflows potential GDP and the full-employment of labor. Needless to say, we can trust the experts in the Eccles Building to stay on the safe side of this potential GDP divide—-an invisible boundary which can only be seen and calibrated by economics PhDs.

Once upon a time the world knew better. The pre-Keynesian rule was that when central banks hit the “buy” key they always and everywhere create monetary inflation. Ordinarily that resulted in the inflation of credit, which, in turn, caused prices to rise—whether of commodities, services, wages, real estate or financial assets like stocks and bonds.

[And] the problem with monetary inflation—a process that has taken the Fed’s balance sheet from $200 billion when Greenspan took office to nearly $4.4 trillion today—is that its deformations, distortions and malinvestments are cumulative.   Worse still, owing to the “recency bias” of players in the Fed’s financial casino, increasingly outlandish pricing errors are taken for granted. They are viewed as part of the bubble landscape, rather than as a screaming indictment of the monetary inflations’ insidious results.

David Stockman, "California Housing and the Bubble at Hand"

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