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Podcast Part 1 Pensions, LA City Council Races, RDA, Collective Bargaining, Greenhut, Box, and Vaughn & Part 2 Greenhut, Box and Vaughn
Public employee salaries, benefits and pensions are hot news items, finally. Taxpayer guaranteed contracts exploded into a new and unsustainable realm a decade ago with little notice by the average voter. The formulas sound so innocuous--an increase to three percent up from two percent or the like. But the overall results are taking a toll on governments from local to state to Federal.
Groups like Californians for Pension Reform have been effective at exposing the current course we are on. Among other tactics, they fought and won important lawsuits for the right to publish a whose who list of "members" in what they dub the $100,000 Pension Club, where $100,000 is the minimum to qualify for "entry" into the club. The $100,000 Pension Club of CalPERS, CalSTRS and UC members now enjoys over sixteen thousand members and growing.
Steven Greenhut, the editor in chief at CalWatchDog--Your Eye on California Government, is the author of Plunder: How Public Employee Unions are Raiding Treasuries, Controlling Our Lives and Bankrupting the Nation. He's been on national news talk stations all over the country underscoring the critical need for reform and the burden and costs these runaway plans have on basic public services.
He has been so effective that he's now at the center of a media campaign in defense of the public employee union packages in question, by the firefighter's union, and as part of this defensive campaign, Greenhut is dismissed as a right wing extremist whose out to hurt workers. We'll talk about it. Robert Vaughn, Co-State Chair of the Campaign for Liberty, Director of LA's Republican Liberty Caucus and a public employee union member himself joins the discussion.
Next week Steve reports at CalWatchDog on the Dumbest New Bills to address the budget crisis. But this week I want to talk with him about some phony conservatives who offer up phony bills to pretend they are for reducing regulations and keeping taxes lower but are in fact well, phonies.
Stephen Box joins us in the studio tonight as we continue our coverage of this heated election campaign in Los Angeles, where citizen activists are coalesing around principles of civil liberties and small business survival protection to take on the steamroller political machine which Bill Boyarsky, former LA Times editor says "...is run by land developers and unions." He left out their political lackeys-- the targets of this campaign.
An LA Weekly story on Stephen Box profiles his rise to viable candidate to do the impossible and unseat an incumbent LA City Council member.
"It took Box 46 years to become a U.S. citizen, which he did in 2010 for a specific purpose: to run for Los Angeles City Council."
"...One of the most damning criticisms of the 15 council members, the highest paid in the U.S. at $178,789 a year — 400 percent of the average L.A. household income — is that they oversee their districts like feudal lords, with more than 300 personal staffers, while their time is largely occupied by parochial minutiae instead of, say, developing citywide policy or planning new infrastructure."
"If you have a pothole on your street" your best to "jump ahead of others by seeking a favor from your council member..."if the council member thinks you can help — say he or she faces a development battle and needs to fill seats with 'stakeholders' — your potholes stand a good chance of being filled in a city that admits it's about 50 years behind on road repairs."
Box says... "This'll be a great city when we stop reacting to complaints and start addressing standards."
"...Box is running against LaBonge, 57, who is widely seen as an energetic, likable booster for L.A. — and, like many of the 14 other council members, an intellectual lightweight."
"Seven incumbents running for City Council on March 8 enjoy countless advantages, not least of which is delivering these special personal favors to constituents, including cash gifts drawn from a $90,000 annual slush fund controlled by each council member. A new candidate like Box could never tap such riches..."
Box, as a result of his ascent as an effective activist for bicyclists in LA, played "a featured role in the grassroots citywide campaign against 2009's Measure B, the controversial bid by the Department of Water and Power to control much of the solar power–installation industry in L.A.
Remarkably, bloggers, activists and neighborhood council leaders convinced normally disinterested L.A. municipal voters to reject the DWP power play. The little-guy opponents stopped Measure B, while being outspent by $1.5 million to just $65,000.
The victory cemented an alliance between Box and a group of budget-restraint advocates and City Hall watchdogs, such as Jack Humphreville, who blogs at CityWatchLA.com, and former newspaperman Kaye, who blogs at RonKayeLA.com.
Humphreville and Kaye are far different from bicycle advocates — they're older, less liberal and, for the most part, skeptical of a vision of Los Angeles that isn't car-centric. But Box has won them over on the issue of making allowances for bicycles by finding common ground."
City Council candidate Stephen Box and L.A. bicyclists roll into the halls of power
By Hillel Aron Thursday, Feb 10 2011
CityWatchLA - Times of Crisis: Think Small CityWatch, Feb 15, 2011
Vol 9 Issue 13 LA NEEDS TO SUPPORT SMALL BIZ by Stephen Box. This piece underscores the coalition bond between the likes of Ron Kaye, Bob Blue, Jack Humphreville, and Bill Boyarsky "...one of the simplest strategies for jumpstarting LA’s local economy would be to retool the current “bigger is better” approach to business development in favor of a model that supports small businesses."
L.A. council's salaries are highest among 15 key cities, new study finds
February 2, 2011 7:04 pm
Rudy Martinez Versus Los Angeles City Hall
Flip This House reality TV star hopes to push out Councilman Jose Huizar
By David Futch Thursday, Dec 2 2010
L.A. City Council Spends Thousands of Your Money on Top Restaurants, Clubs, Hotels (Even for a 'Personal Fiesta')
By Dennis Romero, Thu., Feb. 10 2011 @ 9:28AM
Fight for Council District 12
Valley citizens try to crack open L.A. City Hall
By Beth Barrett Thursday, Feb 17 2011
New CalWatchdog Radio Show
FEB. 13, 2011
Steven Greenhut: Stay tuned to 870 am KRLA in Los Angeles every Saturday night at 11 pm for the Martha Montelongo Show with CalWatchdog. Various CalWatchdog writers will join Martha every Saturday night and we will soon have the podcast included on our Web site. We’ll be talking about state issues, of course, and Martha always features interesting guests and provocative subjects.