Let's get together

Nov 23, 2012

With California Republicans shell-shocked from the last election, many in the GOP are looking for common ground with Democrats.


From the LAT's Anthony York: "Business groups are taking their agendas to Gov. Jerry Brown and a new crop of centrist Democrats in the Legislature, many of whom were elected with financial backing from traditionally Republican groups."


"For the business community, there is a recognition that the best path forward for the state from a governance perspective is with moderate Democrats," said Rob Stutzman, a Republican consultant who advised the California Chamber of Commerce on a number of legislative races this year."


"Although all of the Republicans the chamber backed lost their races, at least seven of the newly elected Democrats in the Assembly had its backing."


Pensions are far more prevalent in the public workplace than in the private, and private workers' benefits are pegged to the uncertainty of Wall Street.


From the OC Register's Ronald Campbell: "Although public pension coverage has also declined, it has remained more than twice as prevalent as in the private workplace. Current coverage rates in California: 69.4 percent for local, 66.3 percent for state and76.4 percent for federal government employees..."


"Most government workers enjoy a “defined benefit” pension plan — a guaranteed amount, payable for life. But most businesses paying pensions have shifted to 401-k’s or other “defined contribution” plans,Chapman University Economics Professor Esmael Adibi said. That means the amount private workers with pensions can expect is subject to the risks of Wall Street."


“This is where the disparity begins,” Adibi said. “Many defined benefit programs are under-funded, and governments are not taking appropriate action to solve the problem, and many believe ultimately taxpayers will end up paying for the unfunded liability in order for retirees to receive their guaranteed payment. But those covered under defined contribution programs in the private sectors don’t have the luxury of guaranteed retirement payments and feel that public sector should not benefit from the generosity of taxpayers.”


The harbor in Crescent City, the little California town south of the Oregon line with the great seafood, is getting a rebuild. The community  has been ravaged by tsunamis -- in 2011 and 1964, to name just two -- and strengthening the harbor has been put at the top of the agenda.


From the AP's Jeff Bernard: "Port officials are hoping that tsunami is among the last of many that have forced major repairs in Crescent City, a tiny commercial fishing village on California's rugged northern coast. Officials are spending $54 million to build the West Coast's first harbor able to withstand the kind of tsunami expected to hit once every 50 years – the same kind that hit in 2011, when the highest surge in the boat basin measured 8.1 feet (2.5 meters) and currents were estimated at 22 feet (6.7 meters) per second."


"Officials are building 244 new steel pilings that will be 30 inches (76 centimeters) in diameter and 70 feet (21 meters) long. Thirty feet (9 meters) or more will be sunk into bedrock. The dock nearest the entrance will be 16 feet (5 meters) long and 8 feet (2.4 meters) deep to dampen incoming waves. The pilings will extend 18 feet (5.5 meters) above the water so that surges 7 1/2 feet (2.3 meters) up and 7 1/2 feet down will not rip docks loose."


"Crescent City was not the only West Coast port slammed by the tsunami, which was generated by a magnitude-9.0 earthquake in Japan. The waves ripped apart docks and sank boats in Santa Cruz, California, and did similar damage in Brookings, Oregon, just north of Crescent City. But their geographical location doesn't make them as vulnerable to multiple tsunamis."


Times are tight all over -- especially for the L.A. court system, which has just gone through a round of cuts and expects plenty more.


From Lori Fowler in the Inland Daily Bulletin: "The Los Angeles Superior Court recently announced plans to cut spending by $30 million this fiscal year - the most significant reduction of services in its history. But in the coming fiscal year, officials are preparing to tackle an even large number - possibly up to $85 million - in an effort to stay afloat."


"...The courthouses affected include the San Pedro branches on Seventh Street and on Beacon Street as well branches in Avalon, Beverly Hills, Huntington Park, Pomona, Whittier, Malibu and the David Kenyon Juvenile Justice Center in Los Angeles."


"The courtroom closures on June 30 will prompt an unknown number of layoffs involving court clerks, court reporters and other staffers, Hearn said."


Speaking of money, if the federal budget dispute isn't resolved, California stands to lose a lot of dough -- just when its economy is starting to get back on track.


From the LAT's Chris Megerian: "If President Obama and Congress fail to reach a deal by the end of the year, the resulting tax hikes and spending cuts could send the country into another recession. California tax revenues could lag nearly 6% over the next year and a half, according to the state Legislative Analyst's Office, nearly wiping out any gains from Proposition 30, the tax-hike plan pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown and approved by voters this month."


"California also would receive less federal funding, and the state could end up wrestling with more deficits at a time when the nonpartisan analyst had forecast surpluses. "This would be a bad turn of events," said Jerry Nickelsburg, senior economist at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. "It would delay the recovery in California." 


"And the consequences would reverberate throughout the state, from Sacramento down to local parks and police departments."







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