PTA Wants to Raise Your Taxes

Parents, the PTA that you all belong to is behind trying to raise your property taxes by reducing the threshold for passage of parcel taxes.

The California State PTA has endorsed the “Local Control of Local Classrooms Funding Act” which reduces the voter approval requirement to raise taxes from 2/3rds down to 55%. This will make it much easier for local school districts to place new property taxes on local homeowners to benefit the teachers’ unions.

Your local PTA: Always thinking of the children

QUIT THE PTA. It is a bad lobbying organization disguised as an innocent thrower of classroom ice cream parties. It hurts children, families, the state and the country.

Moms and dads can help in the classroom, support schools and be great parents without supporting this organization which is stabbing you in the back as a pawn of teachers unions.

Cal State Fullerton’s Pension Tsunami Shell Game and Our Kid’s Future

Titan waste

After showing you how management lives in the lap of luxury last week, I received an email from a Friend who brought to my attention a Cal State University system business practice that forces out qualified, lower paid part-time lecturers and untenured faculty, and brings back higher paid, semi retired faculty. The faculty and management at our own Cal State Fullerton know this practice as FERPing. Just the sound of the acronym sounds like something they should apologize for and we haven’t even said what exactly FERPing is.

The Faculty Early Retirement Program, as the name implies, allows faculty to retire early and then come right back to work. On the surface it creates a lower fiscal burden on local university funding which looks like a cost savings for guys like Milton A. Gordon, who gets $302,042 per year while living rent-free at the El Dorado Ranch. The reality is that it costs taxpayers and students more than if the schools utilized the lower paid, part-time faculty who are otherwise forced out under FERP.

Retirement never looked so lucrative. While everyone else must take furloughs or are getting laid off outright, the FERPers receive FREE parking, ALL of their retirement benefits, and 50% of their last salary. That’s part of the reason why your kid’s tuition continues to rise and classes are getting canceled. This Cal State double-dipping program is brought to you by the public employee unions as a result of the spineless leader who is content to live in his rent-free mansion with an inflated salary and the entitlement attitude of senior public employees. Some FERPers have been milking us for more than 5 years!

Here is an example of the compensation structure that FERPers use to determine just how good retirement might be:

Age: 63 1/2 years (CalPERS retirement age percentage factor: 2.5%)
Length of Service: 27 years
Highest Salary: $87,500(during any 12 month period of CalPERS covered employment)(minus $133.33 monthly deduction for Social Security = $1,599.96)
Calculation: 27 years x .025 (age factor percentage) = 67.5% of highest salary
Estimated CalPERS retirement salary: $85,900 x .675 (age factor percentage) = $57,982
Plus estimated FERP salary: (half of faculty base $70,800) $35,400
Total estimated retirement salary plus FERP salary: $93,382

It’s time to wean the leaches off our sweet cream before all we are left with is sour cream for our kids. Email Milton Gordon at [email protected] or you can call him in his CSUF public employee office at (657) 278-3456. Tell Milton Gordon it’s time to act fiscally responsible with our tax dollars.

Below are some links I stumbled over which helped put FERPing in perspective for me:

Fullerton’s $100,000 Pension Club Welcomes 15 New Members

It’s been almost a year since we published the original list of retired Fullerton public employees earning over $100,000 per year in pensions.

Since then we have learned that our state’s unfunded pension liability has grown to over $500 billion dollars. Our Friends over at California Pension Reform have updated their list of CalPERS pensions, bringing on fifteen new “hundred grand” members from Fullerton this year. That’s an increase of 40% in a single year.

So let’s see who is getting the most from largess from taxpayers. New members are in bold:

Name Annual Pension Position
JAMES “JIM” REED $166,781.88 Fire
GEOFFREY SPALDING $149,852.88 Police
GREGORY MAYES $148,889.40 Police
MICHAEL MAYNARD $140,317.20 Police
DANIEL CHIDESTER $139,416.72 Fire
FRANK PAUL DUDLEY $133,821.00 Development Services Director
ALLEN BURKS $133,782.36 Police
DOUGLAS CAVE $130,761.36 Police
GLENN STEINBRINK $127,533.00 Administrative Director
ANTONIO HERNANDEZ $127,402.20 Police
H SUSAN HUNT $126,970.80 Director of Park and Recreation
STEVEN MATSON $126,430.68 Police
RONNY ROWELL $125,168.40 Police
TERRY STRINGHAM $123,482.28 Fire
GEORGE NEWMAN $121,410.60
RICHARD RILEY $121,113.36
MARK FLANNERY $120,934.68 Director of Personnel
DAVID STANKO $120,279.84 Police
ROBERT HODSON $119,956.08 Director of Engineering
ROBERT “BOB” RICHARDSON $119,720.88 Police
PATRICK MCKINLEY $118,446.48 Chief of Police
DANIEL BECERRA $116,917.20 Police
NEAL BALDWIN $116,740.68 Police
PHILIP GOEHRING $115,076.04 Police
BRAD HOCKERSMITH $115,053.84 Fire
JEFFREY ROOP $113,618.88 Police
KURT BERTUZZI $109,255.08 Fire
LINDA KING $108,168.84 Police
DONALD “DON” PEARCE $107,972.76 Police
CAROLYN JOHNSON $107,179.80 Library Director
PAUL TURNEY $105,747.12
RONALD “RON” GILLETT $105,499.56 Police
ARTHUR WIECHMANN $104,153.76 Police
JONATHON “JON” MCAULAY $102,034.80 Fire
JOHN PIERSON $101,524.92
HUGH BERRY $100,488.84 Assistant City Manager
WILLIAM KENDRICK $100,194.48 Police

Remember… public employee pensions are negotiated between the unions and our city council. It’s time to figure out who has been representing the taxpayers and who has been sticking up for the unions.

Bad Time to Raise Taxes; Especially to Save the League of Cities Baloney

Taxes takin’ my whole damn check, junkies makin’ me a nervous wreck,  the price of food is goin’ up, an’ as if all that shit wasn’t enough, this Tuesday evening the city’s considerin’ a water rate increase.

Furthermore, the city is going to use the rate increase to pay for the League of Cities baloney. The two spendthrift promoters of this idea are Don Bankhead and Pam Keller  who in 2008 attended the League of Cities conference in Long Beach here and here, a mere 25 miles from their front doors and racked up $400 per night waterfront hotel bills.

The League of Cities is a do nothing operation run by bureaucrats for the purpose of promoting their own policies. Fullerton’s annual membership budget is $75,000 – not an inconsiderable sum, exactly why the City of Orange quit the League.

NO new taxes, NO bogus water rate increase. We all know Bankhead and Keller are going to vote for this tax increase and I suspect Dick “RINO” Jones will, too.

We’ll find out tomorrow night.

A Little Common Sense Could Go a Long Way

The other day one of our Friends asked Shawn Nelson for his impressions on the much-discussed High Speed Rail project. Our Friend has helpfully forwarded Nelson’s reply:

I have been struck lately by the supporters of the high speed rail and their seeming lack of common sense when it comes to problem solving; my observations have led me to believe that the current leadership of the program has become more focused on getting a pot of government gold to spend (the more the merrier) and enriching the myriad players involved in the process. By ignoring existing opportunities to run the rail project on the already existing lines of the Metrolink and Amtrak the current design for the high speed rail (HSR) to run from Anaheim to Los Angeles provides a windfall to those in the consulting industry by requiring countless hours of public outreach and environmental impact study.

Why aren’t the leaders of the program asking the basic questions and looking for basic answers? Case in point: I went to a presentation in Anaheim two weeks ago given by the project team of HSR. They explained that the HSR will be able to connect Anaheim and LA in 23 minutes. Of course to accomplish this the tracks would need to be able to cross existing streets that are not presently separated from the rail line (think at grade rail crossings with the drop arms and flashing lights) and some improvements to a curve in the tracks in the Buena Park area. They admitted that the first leg could be a stand alone service in case the rest of the project were never built!

After a few follow up questions we learned the existing system only takes 30 minutes as is and with a few of the improvements that are necessary for the HSR the Metrolink will be able to achieve the same speed as the HSR from Anaheim to LA. With a few of the upgrades being made to the existing system we could all make it to downtown LA in about 26 minutes.

In layman’s terms the first leg of the project is a likely multi-billion dollar effort to shave a few minutes off the average commute from Anaheim to LA. It would save ZERO time if we just made the grade separation improvements and ran an express line (i.e. no stops in between) once per hour! Is there anyone on the HSR board that is thinking this through? Clearly we do not need to spend billions of dollars to avoid running an express train once an hour to LA do we?

The concept of HSR in California could be a useful project tying the central parts of the state with the major metropolitan areas of the San Francisco Bay area and greater Los Angeles. Why isn’t the current effort focused on getting the communities in between tied in to the anchors on each end? Couldn’t Amtrak funding be tied in if the train went to the exact same locations on the route? As things stand now both ends of the line have currently operating rail systems that could be used and result in tens of billions in savings. Can’t the HSR start out by connecting the southern most terminus of BART with the northern most terminus of Metrolink?

Art Leahy, former OCTA president and now the current head of the MTA in Los Angeles, has gone on record acknowledging the problems with the existing approach. I applaud Art for standing up. He has a working knowledge of these systems and we should listen to him. I hope he takes a prominent role in the discussion going forward. Another public figure to recently demand some common sense be included in this process is Assemblywoman Diane Harkey of south Orange County who recognized the disaster we are walking into if we sell bonds to cover the costs for the current proposals.

There are a number of other problems such as why would our Measure M dollars be used to fund the vast majority of the HSR train storage facility/transit link planned in Anaheim? Isn’t measure M money generated here for the purpose of helping all commuters get around Orange County? This is a state and federal project not a local project. Getting people from San Francisco to Anaheim was never the purpose of Measure M. To make matters worse, the $140 million or so in Measure M funds being proposed for the train parking facility are desperately needed by cities like Placentia and Fullerton to finance underpasses at railroad grade crossings – grade separations that will make life better for everybody in North Orange County.

The road we are on now is going to exhaust all the funding available at the state and federal levels, enrich a few well-connected consultants, ruin many neighborhoods that don’t need disturbing and accomplish virtually nothing but duplication of service already provided. Why can’t common sense have a place at the table? Government doesn’t have to be the home of poor execution, but in order to get results that are good for the citizens we need to demand accountability before it is too late.

A Little Posturing for a Parcel Tax in Fullerton?

This video is from the South Pasadena School District.  Fullerton School District Superintendent Mitch Hovey felt that this was a good enough example of how a school district could “send a message to Sacramento” to present it at the FSD School Board meeting the other night.  Enjoy the manipulation of children by the same mindless fools who put our current legislature in office.  You should have seen the FSD employees and most of the board members smiling and bopping their heads to the music.

Incidentally, South Pasadena passed a $120/year parcel tax last year.  

Fullerton “Tea Party” Draws Small But Energetic Crowd

Several hundred people showed up for an “paycheck protection” rally yesterday behind the Slidebar in Fullerton’s Transportation Center. The small but enthusiastic crowd got to hear from several state and local political leaders including Fullerton’s pension spiking spoiler Shawn Nelson, pension crisis watchdog OC Supervisor John Moorlach, Assemblyman Chris Norby, Assemblyman Chuck Devore, gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, and a very energetic Villa Park Councilwoman Deborah Pauly.

The event was sponsored by the Tea Partiers, but the focus was to those in attendance to go out and gather signatures for the paycheck protection initiative that would protect union employees from the union automatically taking dues from the paychecks of their members and use the money to fund political campaigns that might be distasteful the members..

DeVore, who is running to unseat Senator Barbara Boxer, read from old Abe’s famous “four score and seven years ago” speech and then related that to the current cycle of of money and politics that has pushed California and many local governments to the brink of fiscal collapse.

Devore explained the deal works:

  1. Public employee unions take money from their members without consent.
  2. The union then donates money to politicians of both parties.
  3. These politicians enact a pro-union agenda which generally entails richer salaries and benefits and more union members.  The unions increase in wealth and power all at taxpayer expense.

The funnest part of the event was confronting a Harry “Carpetbagging” Sidhu paid staffer who was handing out Harry fliers. I asked him if he knew where Harry lived, at first he gave me a line of baloney about how carpetbagging is a good thing and then admitted that he knows all about carpetbaggers because he worked on Ackerwoman’s scampaign, and that Harry’s probably going to lose, but he needed a job and Harry has deep pockets.

Enjoy some of the highlights of the event:

Teachers’ Pension Fund $42 Billion in the Hole

Last month we warned you that CalSTRS (California teachers’ pension fund) was in a bad spot and they were hoping that nobody would notice.

Yesterday CalSTRS announced that investment losses have left the fund with a $42.6 billion dollar shortfall.


Even more worrisome: the fund will be completely wiped out shortly after today’s young teachers enter retirement. To counteract that problem, the fund will need to start sucking in major contribution increases almost immediately.

Naturally the pension system wants to resolve the situation by sending more Sacramento lobbyists to persuade legislators to “take action”. And by “take action” they mean increase contributions to the fund. Since a majority of teachers’ pension contributions come from taxpayers… Well you know what that means.

A Parallel Universe: No Laptops For These Kids

The school is situated in a leafy glen, smack in the middle of a sophisticated and cosmopolitan city in the Southeast United States. We’re here because kid #2 is testing into its upper school. Nervous? Well, we should be, but we know that her K-8 years in Fullerton have prepared her well. She’s had diligent teachers, a solid home environment and the helpful staff at the Richman Boys And Girls Club who’ve been instrumental in taking her and some lucky teenagers through a nationally recognized leadership program. The only thing she hasn’t had, was a laptop. Her school, Beechwood, has never embraced the program or the belief that they were necessary for success.

The private school here is the stuff you dream of: tetherballs in the lower schools situated in the middle of forest surrounded by tall trees. The sixty-five acre campus is awash with nature. Most students have attended since Pre-K and will graduate with their high school diploma.  The teachers are vibrant. Many went to Ivy League colleges, and some have doctorates. They come here because they can teach subjects in depth, while enjoying the support of parents and the enthusiasm of children and teens.

Yet, for all its bells and whistles –which are considerable, the school does not allow students to bring laptops on campus. Why? Because everything is provided for them at school. The computer lab looks similar to the ones found at the public high schools in Fullerton, as do the classrooms and library. But, while the computer is heavily used, they also put a lot of stock into writing with paper and pencil –the kind of writing that catches kids off guard, makes them think on their feet without the luxury of googling for facts, that challenges to formulate a story, idea, argument –and support it all on their own. Tiring? You betcha. That’s the point.

So, if a top tier school that has 19 AP courses, whose students apply to an average of 13 colleges, are admitted into the best colleges and universities, and has garnered over $4 million in Merit Scholarships doesn’t support personal laptops in school, why should we?

Granted, a lot of the students could probably well afford it. Most of them might have them at home.  But one thing we noticed was that the students were actively engaged with the instructor. In other words, they were being taught how to learn, to interact, to figure things out. They were listening to the ideas of the other students. They weren’t on their laptops, googling, facebooking, or IM’ing.

The Fullerton School District would be far better off taking those precious resources and investing heavily in leadership skills, the humanities, and social skills that will help the students function in times of adversity. Adversity? Of course. As much as parents want to plan their children’s lives, the only certainty in life is that  no matter how well you’re doing, bad things and unfortunate times  take place. Plans change constantly, and the more we prepare our children for it, the better they will fare. Nothing should be etched in stone except for your love.

FFFF makes no secret of its opposition to the laptop program. But, we’re not Luddites. The fight against it has been led by Travis, who makes his living in the field using and refining internet technology.  What is so appalling about the program is the presumption that laptops are the key to a portal that leads to instant success. It’s simply not true.

We also know that not all kids are college bound, and worse, many enroll without knowing why they are there. Paranoia gives rise to the worst kind of snobbishness –the type that warns children if they don’t follow a beaten path, they will fail in life. This paranoia drives parents to go in debt using high interest credit cards to buy laptops in the hope that the magic of Google will take up permanent residence in their child’s brain. This snobbery drives kids crazy, it depresses them, can even extinguish their deepest desires.

One friend of mine, a social networking theorist with many advanced degrees (and clients to boot) has said that the students who are going to do the best over the next 20 years are the ones who make their living by touching something. That is, healing, building, fixing, growing, organizing, and making things. With this in mind, the school district would be far better off giving each kid a tool kit, a community project, and a detailed lesson in financial management.

What we know is the most interesting and fulfilled adults are often the ones who have overcome great adversity and started off with little. What do they have? Passion, vision, timing. And most of all, persistence and the willingness to work hard and take risks.

This top private school has spent considerable time developing an ethics program. They care very deeply about the character of each student. They place students into very good colleges, including the Ivy Leagues. Many have gone on and will continue to do so to write books, found non profit organizations, lead corporations and be innovators in established and new fields. If they have done all of this without requiring laptops for every students, then we shouldn’t see them as a classroom necessity either.

Greenhut Counsels CSPAN on Fullerton’s Pension Problems

In this video from CSPAN’s BookTV, Steven Greenhut talks about his book Plunder!: How Public Employee Unions Are Raiding Treasuries, Controlling Our Lives and Bankrupting the Nation.

Fast forward to 22:20 and listen to Greenhut recount the story of how Shawn Nelson saved Fullerton taxpayers from a secretive retroactive pension spike orchestrated by council RINOs Jones and Bankhead in 2008.