Drug War

California Roundup: Wine, Weed or Taxes? Decide, Golden State!

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Angela Spaccia

* CalPERS Asleep: Why would the California Public Employee Retirement System ignore a massive salary explosion that CalPERS itself would inevitably have to pay for? The L.A. Times' Evan Halper and Marc Lifsher report that the fund discovered the inflated salary of since-ousted Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo during an audit back in 2006:

Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia told CalPERs in writing in October 2006 that the city manager's salary was hiked "to reflect his contributions to the city," which included helping Bell resolve a multimillion-dollar deficit. She said her own pay hike was "provided to reward her for her efforts and new responsibilities" related to a promotion the city had given her.

"It should also be noted that the City Council, also members of the Executive Management classification, were compensated accordingly for their contributions and efforts toward the City's dramatic financial recovery," Spaccia wrote.

CalPERS responded a week later that the city had provided sufficient documentation to authorize "a one-time compensation adjustment" for the officials. The fund conducted no follow-up audits, and Bell salaries continued to soar.

Again, you can get a sense of how far from straightforward market incentives we have traveled when you see how little CalPERS protected itself in this situation. The fund will eventually have to pay out the engorged pension Rizzo's engorged salary produced. Yet it didn't consider this liability to be a problem, because?

Because when God has ordained that you will make an eight percent return each year, you don't have to worry about spending?

* Prop. 25 swindle exposed in court: Sacramento Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette rules that the language "retains the two-thirds vote requirement on taxes" in the ballot title of the union-backed Proposition 25 is misleading. The measure would allow Sacramento to pass budgets with a straight majority rather than the two-thirds majority now required. However, it claimed to retain the supermajority requirement for new taxes—a proposal that as I noted last month is like an order to grab yourself by the hair and hold yourself at arm's length.

* Speaking of the two-months overdue state budget: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger claims to be close to a deal, with only a puny $4 billion gap left.

* Protegen al vino: La Opinión is a paper you must read if you're serious about California news (and thanks to Google translate you can). But it's such a socialist paper that even when it's agitating against a business-killing regulation—as  Araceli Martínez Ortega does in this attack on the federal anti-direct-alcohol sales bill HR 5034—it phrases the case as one where you "Protect Wine" for Hispanic vintners rather than just, you know, allowing people to go about their business without interference.

* Stand athwart history blowing hits: NORML official Paul Armentano and transparent society martyr Dom Armentano (are they like the Jay and Jules Strongbow of libertarianism?) make the case that conservatives should support the legalize-and-tax-pot initiative Prop. 19 "based on core conservative principles such as free markets, limited government and the rule of law."

NEXT: Medicare Actuary Doubts the Health of Medicare's Trust Fund

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  1. The fund will eventually have to pay out the engorged pension Rizzo’s engorged salary produced

    Not if Rizzo were to suffer an unfortunate accident.

    1. Well they’re now trying to impose a “freeze” on pensions for Rizzo, Spaccia and Police Chief Randy Adams. I’d like to see what gives CalPERS the authority to break a deal like that.

      1. That’s why these deals are so nefarious. Break them and you break the law. And we’re a nation of laws. Aren’t we?

        1. we’re a nation of laws. Aren’t we?
          or
          But that’s a priceless Steinway!

          An answer to both:

          Not anymore.

      2. Maybe as a fiduciary duty to the other pensioners? I don’t know.

      3. Tim – did you listen to John & Ken today? They were talking about reports of “irregularities” with the election that gave the OK to charter status (and lead to the subsequent pay hikes). Something like only a mere 400 people even voted. And they are saying “no one” remembers the election being advertised. That may be hyperbole, but it would be incredible if true – did they have an election without telling anyone?

        Police, the mayor, and other city government types going door to door, pressuring and lying to voters to submit absentee ballots. “Helping” them fill them out, and collecting them. All highly illegal.

        If they were convicted of election fraud, would they lose their pensions?

        (Also, why would anyone expect Calpers to be run competently?)

  2. We find this argument unconvincing, even ironic, because under prohibition the marijuana market is totally unregulated, and consumers of any age have no difficulty in obtaining supply. Not good.

    “There is no chance whatsoever in the near future or the distant future of getting what I would really like, which is a free market. That blows.”

    ?Milton Friedman

    1. We find this argument unconvincing, even ironic, because under prohibition the marijuana market is totally unregulated, and consumers of any age have no difficulty in obtaining supply.

      So tell me again why Libertarians should vote to submit this unregulated product to a crazy-quilt of regulation and taxation, differing in every jurisdiction across the state?

      The California LP endorsed this ballot measure, which puts them squarely – and sadly – on the side of supporting *more* tax revenue for the state and the various cities and counties.

  3. City Manager Angela Spaccia

    In a better world, she’d be a Tina Fey spoof waiting to happen.

  4. “to reflect his contributions to the city,” which included helping Bell resolve a multimillion-dollar deficit.”

    Um, wasn’t that multi-million dollar deficit CAUSED by half a dozen people making $500,000/year?

    And even if not, wouldn’t those salaries offset any new savings?

    1. Well, yeah, but they saved the money first. Then they had all this extra money…

  5. Again, you can get a sense of how far from straightforward market incentives we have traveled when you see how little CalPERS protected itself in this situation. The fund will eventually have to pay out the engorged pension Rizzo’s engorged salary produced. Yet it didn’t consider this liability to be a problem, because?

    Forgive my ignorance on the California public employees’ structure, but isn’t CALPers a defacto public institution? If they can’t meet their liabilities, then the citizens of california pick that up, right? And if the citizens of California can’t meet their liabilities, then the citizens of the other 49 states pick that up, right?

    1. Kind of like the old TV series, “Run for your Life” – when you max out your credit card, just put the charges on another credit card. And paying your charges on time, and such big charges, makes you a GREAT credit risk – you get to use credit … until you die, which is great for a guy dying!

      If the other 49 states can’t pick it up, ….California will issue bonds. The other 49 states will buy the bonds. But, but, but…you say. Relax, of course California will not be able to pay interest on all those ‘obligations.’ Thats why CA will issue bonds. The other 49 states will buy them, because they have to – to get the interest on the first bonds they bought.

  6. “based on core conservative principles such as free markets, limited government and the rule of law.”

    Fixed.

    1. Thank you, Paul.

    2. “based on core conservative principles such as free markets, limited government and the rule of law war, opposing anything the Democrats do for purely partisan reasons, and shitting their pants when given the reigns of power”

      1. Very poor comment x,y. Go back to you 2-d world.

      2. Those would be the “reins of power,” son, and ease up on that bit.

  7. Also, fuck California. Again.

  8. The city manager is not the only overpaid motherfucker on the City payroll. The LAT has more revelations today about the other employees of the city making mucho bucks:
    http://latimesblogs.latimes.co…..-says.html

    The lavish salaries released Friday show that that at least seven additional city employees ? beyond the top three administrators reported by The Times ? were making more than the average city manager in Los Angeles County. Among the highly paid are the director of administrative services, $422,707; director of general services, $421,402; the director of community services, $273,542; business development coordinator, $295,627; and a police captain earning $238,075. The names of the employees were not immediately released.

    1. Washington/Seattle, being 10 to 15 years behind California (wanna know what dumb shit is going to happen in Washington? Just look what California was doing 10 or so years ago) is going this route. Greg “Let them drive on snow” Nickels hired a communications director at $160,000 a year because of the Mayor’s…ahem “growing national reputation”. While the rest of the nation’s media was kneeling at the hemn of Mr. Nickels, even the famously progressive people of Seattle were all like, “Wha?” and then they were all like “huh?” and then they were just like “whoa”.

      My guess is lessons won’t be learned, and our public officials will be earning 1/2 a million before the next decade is up.

      1. We’ll see. If we’re stupid enough to vote ourselves an income tax this November, then you may be right.

        On the other hand, Nickels did come in third in his re-election campaign, so maybe there’s a little learning going on.

  9. Oh thats easy dude, weed weed and more weed!

    Lou
    http://www.web-privacy.at.tc

    1. +100 good job bot.

  10. All of this comes as my reporter wife is doing her annual articles on our city budget for the local weekly newspaper. Not her favorite story of the year, but important nonetheless.

    Local news like that is what keeps her paper in the black. Too bad they don’t have such in California.

    1. Oh, we have newspapers.

  11. OK, I’ll state what everyone is thinking

    I’d hit it.

    (if she makes >400K, I’d hit it twice)

  12. I blame it all on the surfers.

  13. California Proposition 19 will allow ordinary American citizens to grow a little marijuana in their own backyards. It will carve the guts out of the drug gangs, get the drug cartels out of our National forests, and greatly reduce the border violence and illegal immigration.

    I hope my kids don’t use marijuana, either as teenagers or as young adults, but if they do, I REALLY hope they don’t end up in jail! As parents, let’s work together to stop putting our own kids in jail over something as silly as marijuana. The effects of marijuana aren’t NEARLY as bad as the effects of JAIL WITH THE SEXUAL PREDATORS, and loss of financial aid, etc. It’s time to stop government officials from ruining our kids’ lives over a little marijuana!

    Let’s remember to ask ourselves, “If my child or grandchild got off track and used a little marijuana, would I want him or her to go to jail?”

    Californians: register to vote at
    h t t p s://w w w .sos.ca.gov/nvrc/fedform/ Just fill out the form and mail it in!

    Other states: Google your state name and “voter registration” to find out how to register!

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