In a rare move, even in municipal bankruptcy cases, San Bernardino and Compton both have stopped making their legally required payments to Calpers. The retirement fund is not pleased.
From Ed Mendel in Calpensions: "For financially struggling local governments, an unauthorized halt or delay in payments to the pension fund is not something CalPERS wants to become widely viewed as a workable option."
"CalPERS can offer some relief in hardship cases. But stretching out payments is limited aid for a deeply distressed local government, hit by falling tax revenue in a down economy and, in some cases, years of alleged overspending and mismanagement."
"San Bernardino has skipped more than $5.3 million in pension payments to CalPERS since filing for bankruptcy on Aug. 1. Last week CalPERS urged a federal bankruptcy court in Riverside to delay action on the city’s eligibility for bankruptcy."
"Compton, reportedly considering bankruptcy last summer, made partial payments to CalPERS but still owes $2.7 million for pensions and health care. CalPERS asked a Sacramento superior court in September to order full payment with interest and penalties."
There is a long-simmering voter registration problem in Riverside County called "voter flipping" that may become a problem elsewhere across the state in areas where the races are tight and registration is close.
From the Press-Entperise's Jim Miller, Imran Ghori, Jeff Horseman and Ben Goad: "More than two-dozen voters who recently re-reregistered as Republicans never gave permission for the switch, the Riverside-area voters told The Press-Enterprise."
"From January through August, Republican registration in the county increased by almost 35,000 voters amid a paid push that wiped out a 15,000-voter Democratic advantage in the hotly contested 31st state Senate District. It also reduced Democratic margins in the overlapping 41st Congressional District and 61st Assembly District."
"But voter interviews suggest that the per-registration bounty program, bankrolled by wealthy activists and large business interests, encouraged some signature gatherers to cut corners."
With all the pitfalls in measuring the public's mood, coming up with a systematic look at how voters view issues or political candidates isn't easy. A pro takes a look.
From Ben Tulchin in Capitol Weekly: "To paraphrase a line from the movie “Hustle & Flow” and its soundtrack, it is hard out here for a pollster these days."
"Between declining landline participation rates, the steady rise of cell phone use, the prevalence of cheap “robo polls”, the emergence of on-line polling, the “top-two” primary system in California that has resulted in candidates from the same party facing off in November, and a lot of noise due to the ever-increasing amount of polling data available (some good, some not so good), the pressure on a pollster to figure out what is really going on has never been greater at any time since polling established itself as a required and necessary component of modern-day campaigns. So what are pollsters and the campaigns and political junkies that rely on them to do this election?.."
"The bottom line is polling still works when done right. But remember, polls are a snap shot in time and they have a margin of error, so factor that in when interpreting the results. Above all, like with most things, polling is perfectly healthy as long as it is consumed in moderation."
If Proposition 30, the governor's tax initiative to raise money for schools and public safety goes down at the ballot box, California school districts may take a major credit hit.
From Sharon Noguchi in the Mercury News: "With five straight years of budget cuts and deferred payments from the state, California school districts have increasingly had to turn to borrowing. Now, if neither state proposition that would shore up education funding passes Nov. 6, the cost of borrowing for many districts is likely to go up. Some may be forced to seek a state bailout, or possibly face bankruptcy."
"That bleak scenario comes not from districts themselves nor the backers of Proposition 30 or Proposition 38, the tax measures to fund schools, but from the bottom-line analysis of Moody's Investors Services, which rates nearly one-third of the state's 1,000-plus school districts and more than half the 122 community college districts."
"In a report issued last week, Moody's said that if the two propositions fail it would immediately begin reviewing the 150 districts it rates most financially precarious, and possibly downgrade their credit ratings. Both tax measures trail in opinion polling. The ratings service declined to specify which school districts it thought most at risk."
The GOP's 11th Commandment is getting broken, in spades, in the heated 31st District congressional race between Gary Miller and Bob Dutton.
From Andrew Edwards in the Daily Bulletin: "A dispatch of negative ads in the congressional race between two Republican candidates, Rep. Gary Miller and state Sen. Bob Dutton, has the state's top GOP official on record that California Republicans need to reaffirm their adherence to the "Eleventh Commandment."
"The Eleventh Commandment, "Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican," is one of the sayings Ronald Reagan made famous during his political career."
"The phrase originally came from the mind of former California GOP leader Gaylord Parkinson, but the issue at hand in the race for the 31st Congressional District seat is the California Republican Party's recent dispatch of anti-Dutton ads."
"The state GOP endorsed Miller in March. There's nothing in the Eleventh Commandment that says a Republican organization cannot favor a candidate, but it may come as a surprise to see an official party organization bad-mouthing one of its own."