Category Archives: California

Spinny Says™ (YES or NO) on the CA Propositions

Most Californians would rather cover themselves in honey and lie down next to a fire ant hill than read through all the propositions. This post is for you, my fellow CA brothers and sisters. This is my breakdown of the propositions, and my suggestions on how to vote (Spinny Says™). Suggestions is the key word. Even though it’s tedious and you would rather do the honey/ants thing, I encourage everyone to read the propositions and decide for yourselves.

There are 11 Propositions on the ballot this year. What fun! Yeah, right.

  • Choice #1 for tax increases. This one is Governor Brown’s baby. It increases the sales tax to 7.50% (from 7.25%). It also creates 4 high income tax brackets:

    1. 10.3% (from 9.3%) for incomes over $250K but less than $300K
    2. 11.3% (from 9.3%) for incomes over $300K but less than $500K
    3. 12.3% (from 9.3%) for incomes over $500K but less than $1M
    4. 13.3% (from 10.3%) for incomes over $1M

    Both taxes are temporary. The sales tax will be in effect for 4 years and the high income taxes will be in effect for 7 years.

    Spinny Says™ YES on Proposition 30.

  • Instead of a yearly budget, whose deadline CA legislators usually ignore, this would be a budget for 2 years. Legislators can’t spend more than $25M without showing where they will cut spending to offset it. It permits the governor the power to cut the budget as needed if the Legislature fails to act during declared fiscal emergencies. It will also change the Constitution by amending sections and adding a new article and new section.

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions. On the surface, it looks really cool. You can’t spend over $25M without showing how you’re going to make up for it. And if there are emergencies and the legislature is deadlocked (happens often), the governor can slice and dice the budget. And changing the CA constitution just by approving this proposition? The proposition gives too much power to the Governor and changes the constitution the minute it’s approved.

    Spinny Says™ NO on Proposition 31.

  • This bans both corporate and union contributions to state and local candidates. It bans contributions by government contractors to the politicians who control contracts awarded to them. It also bans deductions of employees’ wages to go to political causes.

    This one is another that looks good on the surface. However, you don’t have to dig deep to find out that this proposition is bad news. The ones that wrote the proposition exempted themselves. So they can contribute all they want. A state legislator can get money from them to promote their agenda because they wrote it for everyone but themselves. Tricky tricky. Spinny no likey.

    Spinny Says™ NO on Proposition 32.

  • This allows insurance companies to set prices based on whether the driver carried auto insurance with any other company. It also allows insurance companies to increase the cost of insurance if they haven’t maintained continuous coverage. If you lost your job or were engaged in military service (for less than 90 days), you’re still considered continuously covered.

    I could say sponsored by a billionaire insurance baron and “enough said,” but I’ll delve into it. Say you have an uninsured driver. They see the light and say, “I should be responsible and have insurance too!” If this proposition passes, they’ll see that the price of their premium is super high because they weren’t “continuously covered.” Would this make them want to buy insurance? And what about the people who lost their jobs and have been out of work longer than 90 days (the norm)? Or military service men and women who were deployed (usually a lot longer than 90 days). What do they get when they finally find a job or for their service to this country? Higher insurance premiums!

    Spinny Says™ NO on Proposition 33.

  • Ends the death penalty. Future sentences are “life in prison without the possibility of parole.” People already on death row will have their sentences commuted to “life in prison without the possibility of parole.” Those found guilty of murder will be required to work in prison. Their wages will be applied to victim restitution fines.

    I am a Liberal who supports the death penalty. I believe that some crimes require you to pay with your life. The sentence should not be meted out lightly – having DNA evidence and a confession is best. I think those sentenced to death should have one appeal within a two-year period. If they lose that appeal, they will be put to death. Harsh? Yes. Sorry, but I don’t want to be paying for a criminal’s room, board, and endless appeals.

    This one boils down to your beliefs. For me:

    Spinny Says™ NO on Proposition 34.

  • Increases criminal penalties for human trafficking – like 15 years to Life prison sentences, up to $1.5M in fines. Requires those convicted of trafficking register as sex offenders. Requires sex offenders to provide information on their internet activities.

    Another at first glance it looks good proposition. Study further, and you’ll see that it isn’t. The main thing that disturbs me about this is the retroactive classification of “sex offender.” If you were a sex worker, even as a victim of a trafficker, you would be required to register as a sex offender. That’s punishing the victim!!

    Spinny Says™ NO on Proposition 35.

  • Revises three strikes law to impose life sentence only when new felony conviction is serious or violent. Authorizes re-sentencing for offenders currently serving life sentences if third strike conviction was not serious or violent and judge determines sentence does not pose unreasonable risk to public safety.

    The “three strikes law” was passed in 1994. This is how it works. Strike 1: Serious, violent felony. Strike 2: Another serious and violent felony. Because you have the first strike, whatever the sentence for the crime you committed will be doubled. Strike 3: Any felony. Doesn’t have to be serious. You get life, with the possibility of parole after 25 years.

    The Three Strikes Law was great in theory. What we have now as a result is prison overcrowding. Proposition 36 deals with this problem. It’s important to note that if the serious or violent felonies are murder, rape, or child molestation, the three strikes law still applies to them. They’re not getting out. Save life in prison sentences for these violent offenders (murderers, rapists, and child molesters). Not the ones whose third strike was for a dime bag of meth.

    Spinny Says™ YES on Proposition 36.

  • Requires labeling on food if it is made from plants or animals with their genetic material changed. It also prohibits products with these altered plants and animals in them to be labeled “natural.”

    I want to know what’s in my food. Especially if that food can cause health problems. Genetically engineered soy was fed to mice, and the results found changes in the livers of those mice. I know almost anything we eat now can kill us, but I’d like the package to tell me that it has ingredients that can kill me. Don’t be shady and hide it.

    Do you know who is funding “Vote NO on Proposition 37?” Monsanto. The company that genetically modifies crops. Why don’t they want labels to say they have their genetically modified products? Because you might actually read up on them and not want it in your food? Monsanto was the company that manufactured Agent Orange (herbicidal warfare) for the Vietnam War. That not only killed and maimed Vietnamese people, but veterans who were exposed to it. They also manufactured DDT (pesticide) and said it was perfectly safe in the 1940’s. DDT was banned in the 1970’s for…causing cancer.

    Spinny Says™ YES on Proposition 37.

  • Choice #2 for tax increases. Increases personal income tax rates on annual earnings over $7,316 using sliding scale for twelve years. During first four years, it allocates 60% of revenues to K–12 schools, 30% to repaying state debt, and 10% to early childhood programs. After, it allocates 85% of revenues to K–12 schools, 15% to early childhood programs. It also prohibits the states from directing new funds.

    This choice looks really cool because schools are actually getting the lion’s share. The thing that gets me is twelve years. No changes can be made to it even if fraud is involved. Sorry, Jerry’s sales tax is only for 4 years and that high earner tax is only for 7. I always want the option to break up with my propositions sooner if they’ve been cheating on me.

    Interestingly, you can vote YES on both Proposition 30 and Proposition 38. The one with the most YES votes will win. Of course, you can also vote NO on both.

    Spinny Says™ NO on Proposition 38.

  • Requires multistate businesses to calculate their California income tax liability based on the percentage of their sales in California. Repeals existing law giving multistate businesses an option to choose a tax liability formula that favors themselves. Dedicates $550 million annually for five years from anticipated revenue for energy efficiency and clean energy jobs.

    Right now, there is a loophole that says these multistate businesses can choose which tax formula to choose. Formula #1: Three Factor Method – location of the company’s sales, property, and employees. If you have more of these in CA, you pay higher taxes. Formula #2: Single Sales Factor – only uses the location of the company’s sales. If 1/4 of a company’s sales were in CA and 3/4 were everywhere else, the 1/4 of the company’s total profits would be subject to CA tax.

    For example, you have a business in New Mexico that sells turquoise jewelry. You sell a lot of turquoise jewelry all over the country, but you’re based in NM. Your staff is there and so is your building. Most of your sales, though, are in CA. When it comes to paying what you owe to CA, would you rather choose Formula #1 (you have no employees or buildings in CA) or Formula #2 (sales). Of course you’d choose #1 because you’d pay less since you have no employees or buildings in CA. Proposition 39 closes this loophole (that wasn’t there before 2009 when it was snuck in). Basically, you have to use Formula #2.

    Spinny Says™ YES on Proposition 39.

  • A “Yes” vote approves, and a “No” vote rejects, new State Senate districts drawn by the Citizens Redistricting Commission. If the new districts are rejected, the State Senate district boundary lines will be adjusted by officials supervised by the California Supreme Court.

    The new districts were drawn by the Citizens Redistricting Commission. They are independent. It keeps legislators from drawing the districts to guarantee re-election. Someone neutral does the drawing.

    Spinny Says™ YES on Proposition 40.

Governor Jerry Brown Says, “Nemo dat quod non habet.”

Brown: Calif. to Impose Another $1B in Budget Cuts

His Jesuit education is showing again. “Nemo dat quod nan habet” is Latin for “No one can give what he doesn’t have.” (Yeah, I had to look it up). Anyway, the state of CA doesn’t have it to give, so we’re cutting back.

Yesterday was the day. Because the revenue wasn’t what we hoped it would be (but not as bad as some thought), cuts to K – 12 education, the UC and CSU system, Medi-Cal, and in-home care for the elderly and disabled will start January 1, 2012.

I’m not happy that the GOP in our state’s legislature would not give an inch when it came to raising taxes in the budget proposal. Give and take is not their style, just like on the national level. They love the “my way or the highway” approach to “negotiation.”

Of course, if they had conceded and passed Brown’s budget, the projections still weren’t met. The cuts would still have to be made, but the revenue would help in the long run. That makes sense. As the economy improves, so will the revenue. The taxes raised would help add even more. More revenue + needed spending cuts = CA coming closer to a balanced budget.

I am happy that Governor Brown followed through on the cuts, though. It shows that he is still holding up his end of the deal. More importantly, it shows he is taking CA’s budget crisis seriously. He said at the press conference:

“We’re on the road to recovery. And the trigger cuts, which are pulled today, are part of that fiscal discipline. This is not the way we’d like to run California. But we have to live within our means.”

I am biased. I love the guy. He is socially Liberal, yet fiscally Conservative. Back in the 70s, when he was Governor the first time around, his actions showed just how fiscally conservative he was. He said “no” to the governor’s mansion and rented a small apartment in Sacramento. He also said “no” to the limo and drove his Plymouth Satellite around town.

Jerry Brown was and still is one cheap-ass SOB. Exactly what California needs.

These cuts are going to hurt the most vulnerable. I believe that there are other programs that can be cut, but that’s a whole other subject. I hope the CA GOP will concede to some tax increases. With them, the spending cuts will hurt, but not as bad. I’m not holding my breath, and neither is Jerry:

“Realistically, I haven’t heard (any Republican) say ‘I’m likely to vote for taxes,'” Brown said. “They ask to get the tax is so high that we’ll lose on the other side. So, the path forward that I’ve charted is the only way.”

And away we go.

Senator Rand Paul, Only You Can Prevent Pipeline Fires

Senator Blocks Pipeline Safety Bill on Principle

Last year, I was driving home when the natural gas pipeline in San Bruno exploded. San Bruno is about 30 miles from where I live. People were calling it in to the news radio stations, but no one had any idea what it was. People thought a plane crashed. San Bruno is very close to the San Francisco International Airport. Eyewitnesses said it looked like a fireball. It took almost an hour to figure out that it was the gas pipeline. It was so hard to fight because of the constant stream of fuel. Shutting off the gas took almost an hour and a half. That nightmare explosion and fire killed 8 people.

A bill was introduced to strengthen the rules for oil and gas pipelines. Regulation. It got all kinds of opposition from the industry, companies, and Conservatives, right?


Industry trade associations like the Association of Oil Pipelines and gas companies like Southern Star Central Gas Pipeline, Inc. (of Kentucky, interestingly) support the legislation. The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee voted unanimously on it.

What would it do?

Under the bill, federal regulators could order that automatic shutoff valves be installed on new pipelines so leaks can be halted sooner. And it directs regulators to determine whether mandatory inspections of aging pipelines in densely populated areas should be expanded to include lines in rural areas.

Would this cost tax payers a pretty penny? Nope. Industry fees would pay for it.

So why is Senator Rand Paul, Super Libertarian, the lone holdout?

Officials familiar with Paul’s objections said he has told lobbyists and company officials that he’s not opposed to any specific part of the bill, just to the notion of additional federal regulation.

Seriously? He won’t support an automatic shut off valve that can kill the literal fuel to the fire because he hates big government? Sorry, but that is insane. It gets even crazier. Last week, a natural gas pipeline ruptured in his home state, Kentucky. He still opposes it.

I embrace some things Libertarian – the live and let live philosophy, non-intervention, legalization of drugs. Regulation is one of the issues where we part ways. I believe it’s very important for the safety and economic protection of consumers.

The regulations here in CA are a lot stricter. This bill would bring more safety and oversight of oil and natural gas pipelines to the 49 other states. The industry supports it and is willing to pay for it. This should be a no-brainer for a Libertarian.

Message to Rand: Dude, we know you’re a Libertarian – the son of an OG Libertarian. And we know you hate the size and scope of the government. This is the thing – industry leaders and CEOs are telling you this regulation is cool. Relax. Your Libertarian card won’t be revoked if you vote for it.

Larry Powell, Giving Back to California

School Superintendent Gives Up $800k in Pay

I smiled when I read the title. I’m even happier that it’s happening in California. The money that they would save could go to the classrooms. As I read further, though, something bugged me:

He technically retired, then agreed to be hired back to work for $31,000 a year — $10,000 less than a first-year teacher — and with no benefits.

It’s really cool that Larry Powell decided to come back, but he’s retired from the state. He has benefits already. It’s strange that he can be rehired after he retired. I’ve heard of this happening in CA. State employees retire and can get rehired as consultants. They’re working the system because it can be worked. CA has many problems, and this is just one of them.

But, I’m not going to rag on this. It is a great thing because for the next 3 years, the county will save a lot of money. Before he retired, he earned $288K plus benefits. The new hire probably would not have made as much, but the median is around $150K.

Overall, this is a gift to Fresno county. He’s setting a great example and is actually “walking the walk.” Kudos to Powell. Thanks for giving back.

South California?

51st State? Small Step Forward for Long-shot ‘South California’ Plan

I love California. The San Francisco Bay Area will always be home. I went to school in San Diego and had a 6-month dysfunctional relationship with barrio Hollywood. When I read this article, I laughed out loud. Jeff Stone, a Riverside County Supervisor, wants his and 12 other counties to secede and become “South California.”

But South California doesn’t include Los Angeles? How the hell is that going to work? If I’m driving down I5, I’d be leaving California and would enter South California in the Central Valley – like Kern County (Hi Dusty!). When I reach Los Angeles County, am I back in California? Then, once I hit Orange County, I’m in South California again? In this bizarre scenario, to get to San Diego, I’ll be crossing state lines 3 times.

I get why this GOP supervisor wants to do it. California is huge and diverse. There are red areas and blue areas, sparsely populated and densely populated areas. It makes it difficult to manage from a central location. Looking at the disaster that is our budget, it’s obvious it isn’t working.

Secession isn’t necessary to solve the problem, though. If you shift more power, responsibility, and authority to the local level, public services can be managed much more easily. Counties know the needs of their population and can allocate money accordingly. Easier said than done, but it’s a hell of a lot easier than getting the CA legislature to approve secession.

Message to the 13 Counties: You don’t have to break up with us. We can make it work. I know you guys like our Silicon Valley and Hollywood revenue. And we like your fruits and veggies. One California Forever!

No Budget, No Pay

Controller Halts Pay for California Lawmakers

This is why I voted for Proposition 25. No budget, no pay. For every day there is no budget, they don’t get paid. There is no retroactive pay. If they lose it, wave bye bye. It’s gone. So lawmakers threw together “something” to meet the deadline. Problems. Governor Brown vetoed it. Thank you, Jerry. Now, because it wasn’t a balanced budget, Controller Chiang says no go. Thank you, John.

And Thank You, God. Maybe this will finally light a fire under their asses to produced a real, balanced budget. Governor Brown’s budget fell 4 GOP votes short of approval. Because Republican lawmakers’ pay is going to be on hold too, maybe this is the key to getting Brown’s approved.

I’m hoping this is the case. Or something similar to Brown’s plan. Maybe now, there will be some real compromise so we can get a budget that will dig us out of the frickin’ hole. Brown’s plan did it with big cuts, but it involved extending taxes. Maybe the 4 GOP holdouts now have an incentive to agree.

I’m sure we’ll see a real, balanced budget soon. After all, no one wants to lose pay. Tick tock, guys.

Governor Brown Gives Up on State GOP

California Budget: Jerry Brown Ends Talks on Bipartisan Budget Deal

Well, thanks a whole hell of a lot, GOP. We needed just four of you. Four. And this was just to get the budget on the ballot for a special election in June. You all didn’t even want us to vote on it. For all you know, it might not have passed. We’ll never know.

The State Democrats conceded to $12B in cuts. $12B. Getting Democrats to cut that much was huge, especially when we have the majority. Doesn’t the GOP realize what a miracle that was?

The GOP doesn’t want the rest of the budget deficit ($12B) to be closed by tax extensions. Extensions. These weren’t even new taxes! The GOP refused to meet halfway. Absolutely ridiculous.

Jerry Brown’s next move is to get signatures going for a new tax initiative. Why is it new? Because those taxes that he wanted to extend expire in July. So, for a November election, he’d have to sell the public on new ones.

You just wouldn’t compromise, huh GOP? Thanks for nothing.

Cue IOUs. Again.

Welcome Back, Karel!

My Saturday night burger ritual included a nice surprise. Karel, a loud, over-the-top radio host, has been rehired by KGO. He and his late partner were the first openly gay talk show hosts on KFI in Los Angeles, the #1 talk station in the country.

Anyway, he was on KGO until 2.5 years ago. A rant filled with obscenities about Joe the Plumber during a break was aired. The sound engineer forgot to turn off the mic. Yikes. It was picked up on the live feed on the KGO website, and within 30 minutes, it was all over Conservative blogs. Bill O’Reilly got a hold of it within 45 minutes. Talk about viral! He was canned. As of tonight he’s back! Two people on the KGO team have been pleading his case, and fans from all over wrote and bugged management to rehire him. It took a while, but it worked.

I always wondered what happened to him. I didn’t hear about the controversy. The time slot has been a revolving door since he left. It’s great that he’s back – liberal, a tad crazy, and a total flaming queen. Makes for great radio!

Buena suerte, Governor Brown

You will need a lot of luck, but more likely a miracle.  I sure do hope you are successful at selling your budget. First, you have to sell it to the legislators from both sides to get it on the ballot. Then, you have to sell it to the voters. 

I will vote for it if it makes it to the June ballot.  Your budget is fair. $12.5 billion in cuts to social programs and an extension of the taxes that are already in place.

  • Democrats:  I hope they accept it and realize that we simply don’t have the money for all the programs, however noble.
  • Republicans: I hope they accept it and realize how desperately we need the money the tax extension will generate.
  • Voters: I hope they accept it and realize we’re not just broke, we’re drowning.

I like it that your budget calls for both sides to sacrifice. I like that you’ve proven to those who didn’t know that you’re not the typical tax-and-spend liberal. I love that you are cutting the cell phone service of state employees who don’t need them in the first place. I know it was largely symbolic, but you are proving that you are right for this job.

I knew this from the beginning. I knew the Megalomaniac would just be The Governator 2.o. We tried the “run the state like a business” idea and failed miserably.  That is why I was ecstatic when you won.

You’re exactly what we need right now.  When you were governor back in the day, you refused the limo and drove your Plymouth to work. You refused the Governor’s Mansion and rented a modest apartment in Sacramento.  You have been known to many as one cheap ass bastard, both in your personal and professional life. Hallelujah!

I will light candles, invoke political ancestors and gods, anything – for your successful sell of this budget. You know the wounds are too big for the band-aids we’ve been using and that we’re about to bleed out.  Good luck in convincing legislators and voters of that. Vaya con Dios, Governor. I will pray for your miracle.