Monday, July 25, 2011

Current Ballot Initiative Petitions - My Tea Party Perspective - UPDATE

It's that time in the election cycle where we are seeing a big push to get petitions signed to qualify ballot measures. I signed four petitions over the weekend, and thought I would share what I consider the tea party perspective. (Following Dean's lead, I am going to start using small case for tea party to emphasize that it is a social movement, not a political party.)

"Fair and Open Competition in Construction" initiative
This measure would enjoin the city of San Diego from entering into Project Labor Agreements (PLAs). PLAs generally require agreed upon rules about union participation, prevailing wage rates and other working conditions for each city construction project. There purported (look it up, great word to describe most leftist schemes) rationale is to ensure "fair" working conditions and labor peace on construction projects. Apologists claim that it prevents a "race to the bottom" in construction bidding leading to employment of illegal aliens and other dubious practices. However, as someone with experience in contracting for services to be supplied to the government, I can tell you that lowest bid is only one part of the bidding process. Generally, government can make a judgement on the "best value." That means contractor past performance, variance to independent government estimates, low or high, can be considered and one can even ask for the bona fides of the key employees who will work the project. The real purpose of the PLA is to ensure that union shops, with their higher wage base, can compete with non-union shops. That's a bad deal for the taxpayer. Why would we want to guarantee higher costs on city contracts, when we can still apply a best value criteria?

San Diego Pension Reform
This measure, co-sponsored by Mayor Sanders and Councilmen DeMaio and Faulconer, would put new employees, except police, into a 401(k) style pension, rather than a defined benefits package, bringing the city in line with the private sector, and indeed even the federal government has partially gone this route. The U-T, continuing their drift left, has an article about all of the dangers of 401(k) plans. I agree that there are pitfalls, and we are seeing them in the private sector, but the article misses the point of the measure. The taxpayers shouldn't be on the hook for the risk of pension funding, that risk should go to the employees. People just have to get more informed about managing their own money, starting with the view that their 401(k) contribution should be maximized, and their lifestyle reduced to live on the rest of their income. If that doesn't leave enough spending money, then find more lucrative work, get a promotion, cut back on spending, or something, but don't expect taxpayers to foot the bill and the future risk. This is a huge culture change in America, but twenty years from now, people will look back and wonder what all the fuss was about.

Internet Sales Tax aka Referendum to Overturn Law Requiring Internet Retailers to Collect Same Sales or Use Taxes as Other Retailers
This is the so called Amazon sales tax repeal. I am against this because I believe that the state unlawfully is applying the case law and what the term "nexus" means. The Economist has a nice summary of the issues. California is claiming that because Amazon contracts with local retailers who use the Amazon platform to sell their wares, they have a "nexus" in California. This is just a tax grab of course, smoke and mirrors to try and balance the California budget with new taxes. Why have the courts ruled against such taxes in the past? From the Economist:
. . .Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that states cannot force retailers without an in-state presence, or “nexus”, to collect sales tax; it would lead to chaos in interstate commerce, since America has some 8,000 different sales-tax jurisdictions that are constantly changing their rules and are not even aligned with zip codes. But there was ambiguity in that awkward word, nexus.
It is up to the Congress to normalize sales tax collection on cross border sales among the states, because that actually is a proper regulation of interstate commerce envisioned by the founders, unlike say, forcing individuals to buy a product just because they are alive. That said, I'm not sure how this circle can be squared, because too many states have no sales tax. Regardless, California's new law will actually decrease tax revenue as retailers associated with Amazon flee the state or shut down. Certainly, they won't be able to use Amazon as their platform any longer, as Amazon has given them the boot. Mrs. Daddy can't even earn a paltry few bucks by recommending products on her blog any more, this is a crappy law.

Prohibits Political Contributions by Payroll Deductions
I might have made a mistake on this one. What caught my eye was that it would prohibit unions from collecting dues through payroll deductions that could be used for political purposes and required an in writing requirement, to be certified annually. Here is the language from the Secretary of State web site:
Restricts union political fundraising by prohibiting use of payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. Same use restriction would apply to payroll deductions, if any,by corporations or government contractors. Permits voluntary employee contributions to employer or union committees if authorized yearly, in writing. Prohibits unions and corporations from contributing directly or indirectly to candidates and candidate-controlled committees.
Stop the presses, that last sentence bothers me. As much as I dislike unions, I dislike the thought of trampling First Amendment rights even more. I don't think the last sentence would withstand court scrutiny, but I am now sorry I signed this petition.

Here is one I passed on.

Americans Elect petition to be a political party.
This one is a little odd. This organization is trying to set up a political party for the purpose of having a single nationwide primary to determine who would be the Presidential and Vice Presidential nominees, outside of the existing political parties. To make their plan work, they have to qualify as a political party themselves. I haven't given this enough thought, nor do I know anything about the organization, but it looks suspicious. Irregular Times blog has more.

That's a wrap on the weekend's political activity. When you go shopping, you're likely to be accosted by a petition gatherer, so let's be careful out there.


I changed the title of this article slightly adding the word "My" to respond to criticism that I was somehow representing the full tea party position. I am not, because there is no such thing, but I like to avoid confusion.

Second there were some questions about Fair and Open Competition, so here is the language from the petition.
Except as required by state or federal law as a contracting or procurement obligation, or as a condition of the receipt of state or federal funds, the City shall not require a Contractor on a Construction Project to execute or otherwise become a party to a Project Labor Agreement as a condition of bidding, negotiating, awarding or the performing of a contract.
Finally, my post on July 26 re-examines the payroll deduction issue.


  1. Off topic: What do I have to do to join the SLOBs? Do I qualify?

  2. There's a secret initiation involving a goat and Jell-O.

    You sure you want in?

    I didn't realize you were San Diego -- we'll let you know the next secret meeting.

  3. W.C., that's hilarious. Wait... no it isn't... because it's, like, true.

    KT, I'd be honored to sponsor you unless B-Daddy pulls rank.

  4. B-Daddy, great round-up. Thanks for the props on the whole "tea party" thing.

    It's an existential issue that I know many partiers may not be down with but I think it's important to emphasize a particular philosophy or state of mind rather than political influence and infrastructure.