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.

oops

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.

http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/ID/217436

Book Signing with Steven Greenhut on Thursday

Steven Greenhut, author of “PLUNDER! How Public Employee Unions are Raiding Treasuries Controlling our Lives and Bankrupting the Nation ” has written an excellent article for the Wall Street Journal describing the financial horrors created by public employee unions across the nation.

Steven will be at a book signing event on Thursday at Barnes and Noble in Orange. All FFFFers are invited to attend.

Plunder-Steven-Greenhut

Thursday, December 10, 2009 – 6:00 PM
Barnes and Noble
791 S. Main Street
Orange, CA 92821
714-871-7148

The event will be filmed by CSPAN

Fullerton School District’s Budget is Really Screwed Up

Let’s keep this simple – today the Fullerton School Board is staring down the barrel of an unprecedented budget hole. To insulate themselves from the difficult decisions, the board is asking the “Budget Advisory Committee” to recommend a solution. This committee consists of unionized teachers, administrators and PTA parents.

At this point, the budget shortfall is at least $10,000,000. How will they bridge that 11% gap?

Of course we’ve seen plenty of threats to reduce special programs, administrative overhead and other gimmicks, but the elephant in the room is that 90% of the unrestricted funds go to employee pay and benefits.

unrestricted-funds

Mathematically there is no possible way to revive this beast without one or more of the following:

  • Increased classroom sizes (layoff teachers)
  • Reduced teacher salaries and benefits
  • New property taxes

We already know that the teachers union won’t concede to meaningful salary or staff reductions unless confronted with the apocalypse. Taxpayers are severely financially strained in the middle of a massive recession, and are clearly ready to pitchfork any elected who suggests more taxes.

So what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?

Local Church Services State For Free

Here’s an e-mail we just received from a Friend that raises all sorts of questions, enjoy!

Eastside Church in Fullerton is conducting a large scale service day today.  Not all, but most of the projects were at public school campuses.  I am very appreciative of the service to the needy which is taking place with this initiative.   Sending out hundreds of people to clean, make repairs and generally assist public schools in doing what they are paid to do already is further propagating what I believe to be that most tragic of notions, that PUBLIC EDUCATION IS UNDERFUNDED…HARDLY.  Before reading on, understand that many Fullerton teachers have already expressed concern that this endeavor is “taking jobs.” Believe me, that’s the only part of this that makes me smile.

I understand that Eastside’s mission is to be ‘out in the community’ and not locked behind the confines of their church.  I applaud that.  However, I count on (increasingly foolishly it seems) traditional community church’s like Eastside to be populated by wiser-than-typical parishioners who understand many of the most obvious problems in our state and country.

As I write this as one who works to remain informed of local school government, I know that several of the current Fullerton School District Trustees are hopeful that a new parcel tax can be passed so that we can pay an even larger percentage of our incomes to an educational system which has allowed unions to lobby any possibility for significant fiscal or moral change for that matter, out of existence.

As public education has become a jobs program and reward for liberal public employees and voters, we cannot:

  • Volunteer teach without union approval.
  • Terminate incompetent teachers within a timeframe that does not waste tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.  My daughter and her classmates are currently enduring this teacher union supported injustice and waste of taxpayer dollars.
  • Break the back of the cancerous philosophy of compensation within a matrix of TIME SERVED and EDUCATION ACHIEVED which utterly ignores competence or performance.
  • Liberally outsource functions which could drastically reduce cost and improve performance.

Those are just a small sampling of the changes which could literally solve the problems of public education but for the insane axiom dejour that teachers are heroes simply because they are teachers. Today, Eastside unwittingly (well…not so unwittingly) bolsters the notion that teachers are underpaid even though the turnover is nil for a job that thousands apply for and few ever leave before retirement.  Public teaching is a job which offers a fixed pension, summers off and nearly ironclad job security for the tenured.

The votes and common sense rationale of Christian church communities in America is one of our only remaining hopes for a continuing America which is of, by and for the people.  If they too drink from the Kool-Aid of mistaking subordinating taxes with our labor as being a form of service and not a form of foolishness, then our problems were greater than I previously thought.

Most depressing have been the arguments which I have heard defending Eastside’s service to government.

  1. This will somehow lead to a diminishing of today’s false understanding of the separation of church and state (which I certainly agree that this has become a misguided tirade of the left).I believe the reverse to be true.  This foolish service will give fuel to the fire of those who ridiculously opine that any mention of God in a Public venue is a violation of the First Amendment.
  2. That end times are near anyway, so what difference does it make?I’m not sure how to respond to this.  I guess then that we should just ignore any fight to preserve our constitutional government and just go pick flowers?
  3. Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s…Ironically, this is the best argument of all to think this stuff through.  From the Christian perspective, I would certainly think that America and her accompanying freedom would be considered to be an amazing gift from God.  I have news for Christians who use this as an excuse to remain blind (frequently mistaking this for politeness) to political issues.  You are squandering what is one of the greatest gifts from God in our time.   A free America.

I believe Eastside Church to be a great place both run by and attended by terrific people.  However, it would be unsupportive to stand by silently as they contribute to the very problems which most threaten government’s subordinate position to the people and in so doing, weakening the very principles which protect freedom of religion in our country.

Lest anybody think that I am over the top, understand that I am a believer in local change.  There is little hope for wisdom on a grand scale if there is none on a local scale.

Polling? What’s All That Dough Buy You?

Trouble. That starts with "T" and that rhymes with "P" and that stands for Poll!
Trouble. That starts with "T" and that rhymes with "P" and that stands for Poll!

We noticed the other day that the Ackerwoman has spent a ton of money on polling: over fourteen big ones were paid to a guy named Adam Probolsky (who is supposedly the “boyfriend” of Ackerman, Inc. campaign fundraiser Desiree Mouzoon).

Being the political novices that we are, we really have to wonder what $14K gets you in the world of polling, and why other polling was needed to be done since Ackerwoman also paid an outfit JMJ Associates another $6500 for “polling and survey.” That’s over twenty grand in just a few weeks for polling. And that doesn’t even count the polling done by the Ackerman attack dogs Alliance for California’s Tomorrow – a poll that seemed to have caused their plug to be pulled. Hmm.

According to his own website “Mr. Probolsky is an opinion research expert with a demonstrated record of success.” There is no explanation of how he got to be an “expert” – such as advanced degrees in mathematics or statistics, or the like.

And, for quite some time we have wondered whether these campaign camp followers – pollsters and campaign consultants, etc., didn’t really have an interest in stringing candidates along for their own purposes.

Ling cod
A ling cod

We would feel really badly if poor Linda, who has the business experience of a ling cod, were being taken advantage of by unscrupulous campaign hucksters.

Pension Reform Is On The Way

Let’s be realistic. No matter how dire the situation gets, there’s no way our brain-dead state legislature will ever find their way out of California’s massive black hole of public employee pensions. Most of our representatives are too entrenched, too well-lobbied and too gutless to take effective action against the powerful public employee unions.

Thankfully someone is going to put real reform out for a vote to the people. Our Friends over at the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility have filed two pension reform initiatives with the state Attorney General’s office on Thursday, which will be put on the 2010 California ballot after the foundation gathers enough signatures to qualify.

empty-pockets
Say, how did that happen?

The initiatives would apply a benefits cap to the benefit plans offered to all new state, local government, school district, university and special district employees beginning July 1, 2011. Savings to taxpayers are expected to reach over 500 billion dollars over the next 30 years if adopted.

The plan saves money by limiting guaranteed benefits for government works to 75% of pay and requiring employees to wait until they reach MediCare eligibility age before retiree health benefits kick in.

California will never escape the budget crisis and its massive unfunded pension liabilities without enacting legislation built on solid fiscal principles. CFFR spells out the new rules in “The 10 Commandments”

  • Honor all pension contracts
  • Death and disability benefits shall not be changed
  • Pension benefits must be fair and adequate
  • Pension benefits must be guaranteed
  • Pension spiking abuse must be discouraged
  • Future generations should not pay retirement costs for today’s workers
  • Retiree health funds must not be diverted to any other purpose
  • Retirement benefit costs must be sustainable
  • Local agency voters shall retain the right to change benefits
  • Bankruptcies must be avoided

Democrat Bill Lockyer has admitted that the state will go bankrupt without serious changes to the pension system. Will angry voters support reform in 2010? I think so.