Saturday, November 30, 2013

Weekend Music Chill

We have been doing some road-tripping lately and it reminded me of all the times I hit the road when I was in the Navy.  In the day, The Boss was on my favorite cassettes.  Here are two of my favorites to drive to:

Sherry Darling.

Cadillac Ranch.

Friday, November 29, 2013

When Pension Reform Goes Bipartisan

Eventually the mathematical results of under-funding ever more generous pension benefits for state and local employees becomes a problem for Democrats too.  Illinois legislators are expected to vote this week on pension reform that would pare back pension benefits in three important ways.
  • Reducing cost of living increases.
  • Increases retirement age.
  • Capping the salary amount available for pension calculations.
There are few other means short of bankruptcy that can be used to reduce pension obligations.  However, Illinois has rejected attempts at pension reform before, so the path to success in the legislature is not certain.  Of course, the state employee unions are waiting to sue if a pension reform measure passes.  This is one of the most important long term issues for state and local government.  Without pension reform here in California and San Diego, the state and city governments will eventually have no money for basic services.  Rahm Emmanuel, not known for his tea party rhetoric, made the same point.
The [state] agreement also is expected to provide a template for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to follow for his city, which for years has paid far less into its retirement system than needed to keep it solvent. City payments to local pension funds are set to more than double to nearly $1.1 billion starting in 2015. Mr. Emanuel has warned that if changes aren't made, the city will face a combination of property-tax increases and cuts in services, equating the scheduled increase to the cost of having 4,300 police officers on the street.
It is important to note how a deal was reached among Illinois legislative leaders.
Labor officials excluded from the talks found out about the eventual Wednesday breakthrough from reporters. 
. . .   
“I think it’s going to be difficult,” said Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, a member of the pension conference committee and supporter of labor’s arguments in pension talks. “I’m uncomfortable they didn’t have a seat at the table when they’re the people who’ll be impacted by this.”
If Democratic politicians feel the need to exclude labor from pension reform talks, then the situation must certainly be dire.  Illinois is paying a 2% premium on its bonds while pension reform remains unresolved. (California and Michigan are paying about a half-percent premium, source: WSJ.)  

This is one of the key issues of our day, because the proper functioning of government is being put at risk by the expense of public employee pensions.  I support Kevin Faulconer for mayor of San Diego, primarily because I am convinced he can be trusted to continue the fight to reform pensions that was approved by voters under Proposition B.  Alvarez' response on this issue does not "inspire confidence" as a U-T editorial put it.  I would prefer to deal with our pension problems before they become a crisis like Illinois' and Chicago's.

What You Should Be Reading

  • Victor Davis Hanson provides the most complete compendium of Obama-fail I have seen assembled in one column.  
  • In the same vain, Charles Krauthammer outlines the utter lawlessness of this administration and its Democratic allies in the Congress.  The destruction of the rule of law under Obama is frightening, it troubles me greatly that this doesn't get more attention, we are on the path to dictatorship; our long history has made us believe we are immune, we are not.
  • Local blogger KTCat reminds us of the real spirit of Thanksgiving in light of the President's request that we "talk about healthcare" at Thanksgiving dinner.  After the ACA fully crashes and burns, what will you do? Great question. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Dean has been saying for some years that Thanksgiving is the best holiday of the year, gathering with family, having a great meal and watching football.  I hope you find much for which to be thankful this Thanksgiving.  This is a great country country (beautiful too, as my recent vacation reminded me) and we should thank God for all we have.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What You Should Be Reading

I took a real vacation and paid only a little attention to the political world and made no attempt to blog.  It was worthwhile to re-unite with my oldest son and enjoy some of God's creation and some good man-made stuff too.  Mrs. Daddy and I loved the colder and wetter weather we encountered, not typical of Arizona.

We visited historic Jerome, AZ, where everything is reputed to be haunted, even the hamburger joint.

And we hit the trails to enjoy the local beauty of Sedona, AZ.  

And didn't neglect man-made pleasures either. Famous Pizza had great pizza and craft beer on tap including quite a few San Diego offerings.

In the meantime other San Diegans kept up the good work on keeping tabs on our state and local government.  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

California - Arizona and Tourism

Light blogging for the next few days, because we are heading to Arizona.  To launch this road trip here Swell performing a song that only recently became a favorite, "California, Arizona."

I am told that open carry is fairly common in Arizona, as well as some other cultural differences from my home town of San Diego.  That should provide fodder for a future post as well.

We are heading for the tourist resort town of Sedona.  Here in San Diego, the tourism dollars are apparently not flowing in as fast as our city fathers the hoteliers would like.

The city council has bought into this line of reasoning and approved the release of the Tourism Marketing District dollars even though a lawsuit challenging the legitimacy of the tax is pending.  The council vote was 8-1 in favor of releasing the money.  David Alvarez continued supporting Bob Filner's position that the money should not be released.  I also oppose the tax, but not for the reasons that Filner did, I just think the tax itself is illegal.

I would hope that the hospitality industry leaders would come to their senses over the current structure of the tax and propose a different process that doesn't leave them open to legal challenge, and indeed disengages them from city council politics.  If they don't, then the likes of Filner and Alvarez will continue to demand concessions demanded by labor unions in order for funds to be released to promote tourism.

I would like to see Kevin Faulconer propose an alternate way ahead, as well.

What You Should Be Reading

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Now the Hard Part - San Diego Mayor's Race Part II

Although Kevin Faulconer achieved a 43% total in the first round of San Diego's mayoral special election, there is little guarantee that he will be elected mayor in the runoff next February.  There are some reasons to believe that an energetic and motivated effort will be required for Faulconer to win.

  • Turnout for Tuesday's election was only 35%, not the 44% predicted by the registrar.  Low turnout favors Republicans as their voter are more consistent in getting to the polls.
  • Voter registration in San Diego. Democrats 40% to Republicans 27%.
  • Labor put together a good ground game for Alvarez and will do so in the runoff.
  • Latinos, who traditionally have below average turnout will be motivated to elect San Diego's first Latino mayor in David Alvarez.
This is not to say that Faulconer can't or won't win.  Brian Brady at sdrostra has some great analysis on what Faulconer can do.  I am adding my own thoughts as well.
  • Remind voters that the Democrats are responsible for this mess in the first place by putting up a known pervert in Filner.  
  • Though not a local issue, per se, attack the Democrats on the ACA issue to further weaken their brand name.
  • Identify Alvarez as Filner's closest ideological ally on the city council.  
  • Tout Faulconer as the man to save the taxpayer's dollars.  He will fight for managed competition and pension reform.  Alvarez doesn't care about the taxpayer's interests on these issues and will seek to gut managed competition like his pal Filner.
  • Tout Faulconer as the steady guy to bring competence to the council.  Emphasize Alvarez' relative inexperience.  Quickly seize on any unforced error to reinforce the image of inexperience. 
I am deathly afraid of revisiting financial ruin on our city if the unions call the shots at city hall.  Electing Faulconer is an act of self-preservation.

What You Should Be Reading
  • Speaking of the toxicity of the ACA for Democrats, Dean explains why the fiasco may actually get even worse.
  • Holman Jenkins advises the GOP on how to fix the ACA. Jenkins is often brilliant and his column today is one example.  The core of his plan would be to offer low-cost high-deductible  plans and call it an expansion of ACA options to give Democrats political cover to vote for it.  Read how it actually destroys the ACA, but in a good way.
  • San Diego Rostra, if you want insider peaks at San Diego politics from a Republican perspective.
  • This interactive map of the election results by precinct from

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Update: Faulconer in Early Lead, Fletcher and Alvarez Neck and Neck

Honestly, I could have written that headline two days ago, but the early returns almost exactly match the late polling:

Faulconer 45% (Last poll 40%)
Fletcher    25% (Last poll 24%)
Alvarez    23% (Last poll 22%)

UPDATE with overnight results.

Faulconer: 43.6%
Fletcher:     24.3%
Alvarez:      25.6%

Looks like Alvarez takes second, but there are still 35,000 ballots to count. Headline is that Alvarez is the second place finisher.

End of Update.

I don't think this bodes well for Alvarez as he needs a very strong showing among Latinos to beat Fletcher.  However, given the close start it will be a long night.  I don't intend to stay up for it, because Faulconer is going to face a run off and that's what I needed to know.

Faulconer tweeted about his early lead:

Monday, November 18, 2013

Get Out the Vote - San Diego Mayoral Election

If you haven't already voted on a replacement for Bob Filner, tomorrow is the day.  San Diegans who want to reign in the power of the public employee unions should vote for Kevin Faulconer, even if it is a long shot to put him over the 50% mark needed to avoid a run off.  The other two leading candidates, Alvarez and Fletcher are going to do nothing to reign pension costs, a key issue facing the city.  Low turnout is projected for tomorrow's vote, increasing the slim odds that Faulconer could win on the first ballot.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. tomorrow and your polling location is printed on the back of your sample ballot. If you don't know your polling place, you can look it up on the registrar of voters web site. This web application appears to work.  More information is available at the Registrar of Voters web page.

To learn more about Kevin Faulconer, click here.

What You Should Be Reading

  • If you wanted proof of the pernicious effects of minimum wage laws, look at this study of Western European countries on Professor Perry's blog.  Bottom line: Minimum wage laws increase unemployment. 
  • The Iranian economy is hurting; the latest casualty is the national gas company.  The tougher question is whether popular unrest can topple a regime bent on achieving nuclear weapons capability.
  • Your taxpayer dollars at work.  The law requires the USDA to make more loans to sugar companies that have recently defaulted on prior loans.  Is there any part of the economy that government touches that doesn't become a quagmire?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Will Alvarez' Rise Be Enough?

The conventional wisdom, based on extensive polling, is that the San Diego mayor's race is a race for second place between David Alvarez and Nathan Fletcher.  Kevin Faulconer is expected to easily take first place but not to get over the 50% threshold needed to avoid a run off.   Craig Gustafson writes in the U-T that Fletcher still leads Alvarez, 24% - 22%, but Fletcher's numbers have been falling.  However, the polling assumes a 20% Latino turnout.  That might be too high an estimate. 

I have noticed in debates and in the mailers sent out by the Faulconer campaign that Faulconer is much less critical of Alvarez than Fletcher.  Gustafson claims as fact that Faulconer's campaign prefers Alvarez as his opponent and I agree.  However, in spite of Fletcher's recent free fall, I think he will still come in second place.  Alvarez is too dependent on voters that have poor track records with turn out, youth and Latinos.  Only the mayor's race is on the ballot this Tuesday, so turn out is the key for all groups.  Turnout is not expected to be high:
County Registrar of Voters Michael Vu has adjusted downward his original voter turnout projection of 50 percent to 44 percent. Although comparable to the percentage in the city’s last special mayoral election in 2005, political observers doubted turnout Tuesday will be that high.
Republicans are also outperforming on returning mailed in ballots, with 46% of returned ballots coming from Republican registered voters.  It is too much to hope that Faulconer, whom I endorsed, would break 50% and avoid a run off.  I think turn out would have to be very low, except among Republicans for that to happen.

What You Should Be Reading
  • Mark Steyn, because you should always read Mark Steyn, but also because he skewers the pretensions of the President's pronouncements.  My favorite quote: Obama always gives the vague impression that routine features of humdrum human existence are entirely alien to him
  • Dean compares the ravages of Big Corn with the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse.  
  • Left Coast Rebel posts a disturbing video showing New Mexico police shooting at a minivan with children in it.  Exit question: Why does the war on drugs justify this behavior?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Weekend Music Chill

Been listening to more old school music lately.  Loved the Allman Brothers in the day.  Two of my favorites posted for your listening enjoyment.

One Way Out.

Midnight Rider. And no, that stupid insurance commercial hasn't ruined it for me.

I replaced the video for this song as I noticed a confederate flag in the previously posted video.

Todd Gloria Performs a Real Service

Democrat Todd Gloria is the acting mayor of San Diego and chair of the City Council budget committee.  He has performed a public service by providing a breakdown of the city budget deficit for 2015.  Bottom line, the budget has a deficit, but that deficit will be made worse by spending promises made by the city council over the past few years.  I like the Voice of San Diego headline: Gloria Reveals the Cost of Saying Yes.  The U-T reports that just maintaining the current level of services results in a projected deficit of $19 million next year.  Adding in promises made by the City Council would increase the deficit to $62 million and infrastructure repairs add another $16 million.  Gloria has done a service by clearly laying out the impact to the deficit of all the promises made by the city council in the past.

What should the city council do?  What do the mayoral candidates say? Here are some unfair and unbalanced synopses.

Fletcher:  Make hard choices, put public safety spending first. [Irony unintentional.]
Faulconer: Find money by increasing managed competition.
Alvarez: It's not that bad.
Aguirre: Are you kidding? That deficit is probably $200 million based on our needs.

I believe that we should look at savings in existing services.  Failing to review services that are no longer needed or are not needed as much is a known path to finding investment dollars in big businesses.  I also like managed competition, because even when the government employees win the bid, money is saved.  Although the focus of the newspaper articles is on the deficit, consider that the overall general fund budget is $1.2 billion.  That means that the projected deficit at existing levels is only between 1% and 2%.  It seems obvious that there is much more money available from cutting an existing program than from tinkering with the programs proposed.  There should be a rule that any new program has to be funded by cuts somewhere else in the budget.

The three top new big ticket items promised include more police, $14.3 million; infrastructure repairs, $11. 3 million, and more funding for the "arts," $5.5 million. My call, fund only the infrastructure repairs, because the streets are crappy and spending more on them now saves money later.

What services should be cut?  It turns out that Police and Fire make up just over half of the general fund expenditures.  Before we reflexively say that public safety is most important, we should ask if the level of police and fire protection is good enough. How do our crime and fire rates compare to similar cities?  Also, looking through the 2014 budget also reveals that $1.3 million in savings from managed competition for Fleet Services were removed from the budget, by Mayor Filner, I presume.  If managed competition is to save money, we have to stick to the "as bid" savings.

I would cut the library services, as I believe that libraries are an anachronism.  In the 2013 budget, the new central library added $2.4 million to city expenses over the $39 million already budgeted.  You could get a lot of street repairs done for that kind of money.  Nathan Fletcher says that budgeting is about making hard choices.  I'll believe him when he advocates a cut to library services.

Here is the proposed fiscal year 2014 General Fund employee breakdown. It is not the same as the budget breakdown, but serves as a good proxy.  Source

What You Should Be Reading

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

CA-52 Getting Interesting - #ACA Toxicity

To see the impact of the health care law's implosion on political campaigns, look no further than my own 52nd Congressional district here in San Diego.  Scott Peters, the incumbent,is expected to face a tough re-election campaign against the well-known Carl DeMaio.  (I supported DeMaio for Mayor last year.)  While DeMaio has a Republican primary to get past, his high name recognition and backing of the GOP central committee makes him the likely nominee.  DeMaio has been hammering Peters on the health care issue, even though the election is a year away.  Peters has said he would support a House Republican bill to allow individuals to keep their health care.  That Peters would be support a GOP bill on this issue is evidence of how toxic the issue has become.  Leading Democrats are attacking Fred Upton (R-MI) over his legislation, doubling down on the President's argument that the public doesn't understand how bad their policies really are and that this is just another GOP plot to undermine the law.  Scott Peters has been supporting the law until recently.

Carl DeMaio

Scott Peters

What You Should Be Reading

  • The always brilliant Victor Davis Hanson plots the endgame for the ill-named Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  Bottom line, Obama will usurp authority to gut the law, declare victory and move on. 
  • Holman Jenkins asks "Why have the stock prices of the insurance industry have enjoyed a huge run-up if the ACA is supposed to reign in special interests?"
  • Dean reports on the end game for socialism in Venezuela and it's not pretty. Money quote: In this context, “free-market economists” can also mean “anybody that can rub two brain cells together”.
  • Left Coast Rebel dissects the supply and demand of Lithium and its potential impact on future electric car production.  Left wing dreams of an electric utopia may have to be put on hold.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Key Issues in the Mayor's Race

With a week to go before the November 19th special election to replace Bob Filner, a number of distracting issues, such as attendance, have made for idiotic campaign commercials.  In reality, the city is facing a number of issues that require resolution.

Continuing Pension Reform

The new mayor will need to vigorously defend Proposition B, which was a step towards reforming pensions and limiting the future liability of San Diego's taxpayers.  As we have seen on the state and federal level, the failure of the government to defend its position in the courts can nullify the will of the vote of the people or legislature.  Mike Aguirre and Kevin Faulconer are committed to reforming San Diego's pensions, Aguirre certainly more so.  Unfortunately, the former city attorney doesn't stand much of a chance.  David Alvarez has opposed a 401(k) style pension reform for city workers, proposing a cap on benefits instead.  Nathan Fletcher's position is to howl that Faulconer wants to deprive widows of public safety officers of their pensions.

Continuing Managed Competition

City workers have won a number of managed competitions with private industry, so why bother with the process?  Because the competition forces the government to look at its costs and produce savings.  Despite some flaws each round of managed competition resulted in the city government coming up with ways to reduce costs.  Further oversight and revisions of the process to ensure that the savings materialize are needed, but only Kevin Faulconer whole-heartedly supports the process.  Fletcher and Alvarez both oppose the process.  We need a mayor who will do the hard work to ensure this process saves the taxpayers' dollars and only Faulconer is committed to the process' success.

City Streets

For better or worse, the city government is responsible for the condition of most public roadways in the city.  Our streets are in horrible shape.  Faulconer correctly ties the ability to fund street repairs to the budget woes caused by pension underfunding.  He proposes some reasonable steps to make streets better, including using capital funding for maintenance; but the money still has to come from somewhere.  Fletcher and Alvarez both pledge street repair, but have little specific to say on their respective web sites.  Alvarez also supports more capital funding for street maintenance, but his over 20 page blueprint has surprisingly little to say on a topic I consider of high importance.

Barrio Logan Zoning and the Shipbuilding and Repair Industry

I covered this issue earlier.  Yesterday, I signed a petition to put the re-zoning up for a vote.  I think this industry is extremely important for good jobs in San Diego.  Removing the support services to shipbuilding in the buffer zone is a first step towards killing off this industry.  I don't trust the motives of the Democrats involved in this plan.  I find Faulconer arguing to save jobs in this industry.  Fletcher's attacks on Alvarez on this subject are disingenuous as Fletcher has no real plan.

There are certainly other subjects, like medical marijuana, but I don't think the candidates differ significantly or the subjects are as important.

What You Should Be Reading
  • The U-T has a nice feature that allows you to match your views with those of the four top candidates and get a score.  My scores were Faulconer 62%, Aguirre 50%, Fletcher 29%, Alvarez 27%.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Happy Veterans Day from a Cold War Veteran

I am a veteran of the U.S. submarine force from the Cold War era.  I never saw combat, thank God.  All Americans should be thankful for that as well, because the kind of combat for which we were prepared was to launch nuclear missiles at our adversary in retaliation for a strike against the United States.  That we never saw combat is a testimony to the effectiveness of our national strategy of deterrence and the credibility that our nuclear forces had the ability to carry out the strategy.  The results of all out nuclear conflict would have been devastating, of course; but it is little understood that even though millions would die in a strike, most people would survive, only to die slowly from starvation and radiation as the national economic infrastructure collapsed.

However, my personal hero, Ronald Reagan, embarked on a mission to convince the Soviets Russians that they would never surpass us militarily and that our technology would ultimately prove superior.  His leadership restored the professionalism of our armed forces and I am utterly convinced that we had the superior technology, training and discipline to prevail.  That we prevailed in the Cold War is the ultimate form of victory.  Sun Tzu, author of The Art of War, would agree:
For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.
So enjoy the freedom and prosperity that our victory in the Cold War achieved on this Veterans Day and thank God that He has provided leaders at critical times in our history like Ronald Reagan.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

San Diego Linkage Fees Do Nothing for Affordable Housing

The need for a Republican mayor to veto leftist nonsense was on display Monday, when the San Diego city council passed whopping increases in the "linkage fees" on new development that ranges from 377% to 744%.  The fees are supposed to help provide affordable housing when new development results in low paying jobs.  Don't ask me how creating jobs makes people less able to afford housing.  Example, Joe didn't have a job.  A developer creates a new business.  Joe gets a job.  Joe may still not be able to afford a swanky La Jolla condo, but he is certainly in better shape than when he didn't have a job.

At a time when our local economy is still not in great shape the Democrats on the city council don't seem to care.  Consider this quote from a Democrat mayoral candidate:
“If you don’t want to pay the fee ... don’t create low-paying jobs,” lectured Councilman David Alvarez.
Don't create jobs?  Is that really Alvarez' message?  With the minimum wage set to rise again, I would think that Democrats would be in favor of any new jobs.  But since the minimum wage also puts some people out of work, I guess the Democrats prefer folks on welfare.  Actions like increasing minimum wage and discouraging development are a great way to keep people on the bottom rung of the economy from getting jobs.  It was good to see Kevin Faulconer opposing this bill. 

. . . both sides agreed that the fee increase does little to fill a large affordable housing void in San Diego. The city has a waiting list of about 45,000 people for affordable housing, but has lost $34 million per year due to the elimination of redevelopment agencies and federal and state budget cuts. The current linkage fee generates about $2.2 million per year.
What makes housing unaffordable are a combination of bad federal and local policies.  Various federal policies caused a bubble in the housing market and the there are still efforts to prop up prices.  If we want the poor to be able to have housing, why make it more expensive?  At the local level, limits on density and new housing development limits the supply of housing, driving up prices by depressing the stock of available housing.  City government will never have enough money to supply affordable housing, only the private sector can do so, and only with a profit motive.

What You Should Be Reading

  • Dean unmasks the Corporatism that has come to define modern leftism.  That the Occupy crowd doesn't see that the Democrats are the main enablers of corporate thievery is a tribute to the failure of their critical thinking classes in college.  
  • Speaking of health insurance, Suck it up millennials, health insurers are using you to pay old folk's medical bills while you live in your Mom's basement, but still managed to vote for Obama who arrange the whole deal.
  • KT posts a not-so-pretty picture and a link to the debt bomb that Millenials in Chicago will inherit from decades of Democrat rule.