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Friday, February 25, 2011

Battlelines are drawn: In CA and Wisconsin, the substantial disparity between public and private sector retirement benefits rip open the debate! Also, grotesque abuse of power by Steve Cooley's L.A. Prosecutorial Agency and the L.A.S.P.D., Saturday Night at 11 PM on 870AM KRLA

Saturday Night February 26 at 11PM
You can listen live at 870AM KRLA, or 
on line at http://KRLA870.com/
To call us during the show dial 1-866-870-5752
Martha Montelongo with CAL WATCH DOG  presents: 

As one veteran follower of teacher unions remarked this week, the battle lines are clear. Like it or not, reformers of every political persuasion will have to pick sides.
Podcast Part 1 & Part 2


In light of the standoff between the unions and their supporters in Wisconsin's state legislature, the brave warriors hiding out in amusement parks and cheap hotels, using doctor's note's so they can claim medical leave, and excused absence so as not to miss a paycheck, to avoid dealing with Governor Walker's proposal to eliminate collective bargaining, a USA Today/Gallup Poll came out early this week that found that 61% would oppose a law in their state similar to such a proposal in Wisconsin, compared with 33% who would favor such a law.
Almost two-thirds of those polled say their states face budget crises, but respondents oppose or are split on potential solutions, from tax hikes to spending cuts.
Key results:
— 71% oppose increasing sales, income or other taxes while 27% are in favor that approach.
— 53% oppose reducing pay or benefits for government workers while 44% are in favor.
— 48% opposed reducing or eliminating government programs while 47% were in favor of cuts.
"This underlines the difficulty of solving these problems," Jeffrey Jones of Gallup says. "It's hard to find a consensus on what to do."
The poll has a margin of error of +/-4 percentage points.
Dick Morris did a poll on Wisconsin, in which he concludes, "voters back the principal of collective bargaining.  But they are also willing to limit these negotiations so that they would not impede education reforms."
[Voters] support many aspects of the proposal by significant numbers:

VOTERS SUPPORT CHANGING THE BENEFITS TO STATE WORKERS, PAY, AND AUTOMATIC DEDUCTION OF UNION DUES

• By 74-18, they back making state employees pay more for their health insurance.
• By 79-16, they support asking state workers contribute more toward their pensions.
• By 54-34, Wisconsin voters support ending the automatic deduction of union dues from state paychecks and support making unions collect dues from each member.
• By 66-30, they back limiting state workers’ pay increases to the rate of inflation unless voters approve a higher raise by a public referendum.

VOTERS OPPOSE CHANGING COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENTS

On the issue of limiting collective bargaining to wage and benefit issues, however, they break with the Governor, opposing the proposal by 41-54.

If the issues to be taken off the bargaining table are related to giving schools flexibility to modify tenure, pay teachers based on merit, discharge bad teachers and promote good ones, however, they support such limits on collective bargaining by 58-38.

Bring it home to California, which is in deep trouble over the State's unfunded public employee pension liabilities and retirement benefits and to add fuel to this fire, a union in California is now  targeting city management.

With Wisconsin's Governor and Republican legislators trying to repeal the state's collective bargaining law for public-employee unions, as well as requiring state workers to pay some of their pension costs, Sacramento's former head of labor relations, Dee Contreras, is now trying to organize a labor union of city managers and other highly-compensated administrative workers.

The practice of former city managers and upper management city executives crossing over to the other side of the negotiating table is growing, despite the strong push back by voters and private sector.

Here to talk about this battleline, your CalWatchdogs, John Seiler and Steven Greenhut.   John posted his analysis of the report released Thursday by The Little Hoover Commission, regarding California's Public Employee Pensions, with an in depth analysis of how we got here.

The Commission report makes recommendations for how to deal with the critical situation in California.  Who is The Little Hoover Commission?  Is the report comprehensive? Are the recommendations enough?
What say John Seiler and Steve Greenhut regarding:
  1. Gallup's national poll concerning voters support for government employees having collective bargaining?
  2. Dick Morris's poll concerning Wisconsin's voters support for collective bargaining and reforms?  
  3. The latest developments in California with Dee Contreras, Sacramento's former head of labor relations, now trying to organize a labor union of city managers and other highly-compensated administrative workers?
  4. The Little Hoover Commission Report? 

Related Links:
George Skelton, the house liberal Icon Columnist weighs in on the issue:
SKELTON: Reality behind pension debate - National Voices - Modbee.com
"...in the eyes of many in private enterprise. It's sort of an American civil war between government and nongovernment families.
"A key question that we think needs to be asked," Assistant Legislative Analyst Jason Sisney said in a recent report, "is this: Can the substantial disparity between public and private sector retirement benefits be sustained much longer? We think that it probably cannot."

But, does Skelton's opinion carry water? The folks at The Democratic Strategist don't think liberals matter so much to the Democrats, as much as do moderates!
Is the Center Still Vital?
This item by TDS Contributor and Progressive Policy Institute senior fellow and managing editor Lee Drutman is cross-posted at Democratic Strategist from Progressive Fix.
Third Way's Bill Galston and Elaine Kamarck have published a new analysis about the role of moderates in American politics, "The Still-Vital Center: Moderates, Democrats, and the Renewal of American Politics."
Posted by staff on February 24, 2011 6:43 PM
"...moderates are more likely to support Democrats. Since 1980, the U.S. electorate has hovered around 20 percent liberal, 33 percent conservative, and 47 percent moderate. This means that Democrats need moderates more, since liberals make up only one-fifth of voters. Conservatives outnumber liberals by a substantial amount, so Republicans need fewer moderates to establish a winning coalition. This is the kind of simple math that liberals keep forgetting. Obama, like every Democrat before him, couldn't have won without strong support among moderates."
Bottom line, according to Democratic strategists, liberals can drop dead. The Democratic strategists are going for the moderates, a group the same study describes as "less-educated, less-engaged citizens who don't know or care enough about politics to pick a side."

Lydia Grant, an LAUSD student safety activist and community liaison, joins us to talk about the Los Angeles School District Police Department, or L.A.S.D.P, and Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley's active role in an horrific case of abuse of power concerning Jeremy Marks "Attempted Lynching" Case.  This is about a black teen who filmed an LAUSD campus cop hitting a student and for that faces bizarre charges and years in prison.
Lydia Grant is disgusted by the piling-on of accusations against Jeremy Marks, the student observer with a cell phone camera, and the severe charges that could send him to a California prison for 14 years.

Lydia Grant is also a Parent Representative, who helped pass the Parent Trigger Law in California last year, that empowered parents in chronically failing schools to force change at their child's school by getting 50 percent plus 1 of the parents at the school to sign a petition. 

Lydia will give us an update on the  Parent Trigger Law and the stymied efforts of parents at McKinley Elementary to get the change they are demanding.  Their petition has been denied based on a "wrong cover letter" and "the board felt the parents didn't vet their charter selection with enough rigor."   This battle is far from over.  We'll get from Lydia, what's next?

  Lydia also sits on the, Sunland–Tujunga Neighborhood Council and is a board member of L.A. Clean Sweep, the PAC that is giving some grief to the political hacks who rule City Hall, and who serve Big Developers and the public employee unions who run City Hall, at the expense of everyone else who lives and works in Los Angeles.  

We'll meet two candidates, Kelly Lord, and Brad Smith, who are running for City Council in L.A CD 12, are both endorsed by L.A.Clean Sweep PAC, are friends, and talk like team players. Who are they, and who is L.A. Clean Sweep and why did LA Clean Sweep endorse both of them? Who are they running against? What are the odds for bumping the anointed successor to the retiring sitting council member?
Clean Sweeps Key Platform Issues:
Issue No. 1: Clean Up City Hall
Issue No. 2: Fix the Budget
Issue No. 3: Focus on Core Services
Issue No. 4: Power Sharing
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Botched Paramilitary Police Raids: An Epidemic of "Isolated Incidents"

"If a widespread pattern of [knock-and-announce] violations were shown . . . there would be reason for grave concern." —Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, in Hudson v. Michigan, June 15, 2006. An interactive map of botched SWAT and paramilitary police raids, released in conjunction with the Cato policy paper "Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids," by Radley Balko. What does this map mean? How to use this map View Original Map and Database

Key

Death of an innocent. Death or injury of a police officer. Death of a nonviolent offender.
Raid on an innocent suspect. Other examples of paramilitary police excess. Unnecessary raids on doctors and sick people.
The proliferation of SWAT teams, police militarization, and the Drug War have given rise to a dramatic increase in the number of "no-knock" or "quick-knock" raids on suspected drug offenders. Because these raids are often conducted based on tips from notoriously unreliable confidential informants, police sometimes conduct SWAT-style raids on the wrong home, or on the homes of nonviolent, misdemeanor drug users. Such highly-volatile, overly confrontational tactics are bad enough when no one is hurt -- it's difficult to imagine the terror an innocent suspect or family faces when a SWAT team mistakenly breaks down their door in the middle of the night. But even more disturbing are the number of times such "wrong door" raids unnecessarily lead to the injury or death of suspects, bystanders, and police officers. Defenders of SWAT teams and paramilitary tactics say such incidents are isolated and rare. The map above aims to refute that notion.

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