All posts by Ellis Goldberg


Fracking brings to mind drilling a hole and then pumping awful stuff down the hole causing gas and oil to be released through fractures in the rock.  A new kind of fracking is being planned: The fracking of the California Democratic Party.  The hole is being drilled in Senate District 7 where Steve Glazer could take a seat with the Democrats in the State Senate.  Glazer is expert at using awful stuff – divisiveness; which he used to turn Democrats against Democrats and labor unions, that’s how he delivered an assembly seat to a Republican in a district with a Democratic majority.  He is using the same divisive strategy in the current campaign and promises to use it if elected.  He would have a seat at the Democratic Caucus where legislators hammer out differences and reach agreements through open discussions.  Glazer would prevent those discussions because he cannot be trusted.

Following the money behind Glazer’s campaign to see why he cannot be trusted.  

· JOBSPAC the Chamber of Commerce’s Committee has been filling our mailboxes with ads attacking first Tim Sbranti & unions, then both Joan Buchanan & Susan Bonilla.  The chamber wants to do away with regulations meant to protect us to make it easier for businesses to take unfair advantage of us.

· Charter Schools Advocates want to privatize our public school system, with an underfunding strategy.  Parents may either send their kids to public school or try to get the kids into a charter school.  Charter schools are paid for by the local school district.  BUT, charter schools do not play by the same rules as the public schools.  They act as not for profit corporations and do not have to reveal how funds are spent.  They write their own curriculum without oversight.  They use non-credentialed teachers at below union scale wages.  Some do an excellent job but many short change students and parents.  By underfunding education in California more parents will opt for charter schools.  Recently NYC former Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave the Charter Schools advocates $200,000 to use in the Glazer campaign.  

· Bill Bloomfield is a Southern California Billionaire who has over $800,000 invested in Glazer’s campaign sending most of the positive mailers about Glazer.

· Charlie Munger (son of Warren Buffets partner) spent a reported $4.5 million in the campaign against Sbranti.  His PAC Spirit of Democracy sent a very expensive 16 page mailer about how Glazer had been smeared in the AD 16 race, they sent it after the primary to hurt Sbranti running against Republican Catherine Baker.  Munger is chair of the Republican party in Santa Clara County.

Why are these billionaires and the chamber so interested in a Dem on Dem race?  If this strategy works here in the bay area they can apply it all over the state and nationwide.  It is a strategy for big $$$$ taking over in the bluest state in this nation.  

Josh Richman wrote about the strategy for the Bay Area News Group who endorse Glazer

Will the ‘real Democrat’ please stand up?.  He was kinder than I am.

GAME CHANGER: Jerry Brown appears with Glazer in many mailers, touting he has been a Brown Campaign adviser.  If Jerry Brown endorses Susan Bonilla the game changes.  Brown should endorse Susan because of the effect Glazer would have on the legislature’s effectiveness and on Brown’s agenda.  Does Jerry Brown want to be remembered as the Democratic Governor who let the Democratic Majority in the legislature be fracked?

Rx: A Gridlock Remedy

America deserves better than a gridlocked congress                         Rx: More democracy

Some Americans are denied representation in the Congress          Rx: More democracy

All Americans lack equal representation in the Congress                  Rx: More democracy

Too few eligible Americans vote                                                               Rx: More democracy

Suggestions for reducing; Legislative Gridlock, Divisiveness & Representational Disparities while increasing Citizen Participation

The US constitution written centuries ago needs a major overhaul to be fully functional in the 21st century.  When it was written geographic proximity was sufficient commonality for common representation of 33,000 person congressional districts, today the average is 713,000 persons per district. Source:…  Today individuals have a unique set of personal political imperatives; each voter has a different set of reasons, each weighted by judgment, for making political decisions.  Having representatives in the legislature based on geographic districts makes for a poor set of choices for today’s voters. If voters choose from a large assortment of at-large legislative candidates each voter could vote for a candidate who best represented and champions their individual political priorities.  Each candidate might be a champion with a specific set of priorities and will be attractive to voters with similar priorities.  More and better candidate choices improve democracy.

Why is more democracy needed?

Gridlock:  Congress is divided into two camps that will not agree on several issues.  It is a stalemate-standoff where neither camp really acts in the best interests of the country but instead acts in ways that will get them re-elected.  It looks like it is about to get worse – see  article at  Huffington Post.

Divisiveness: Millions of campaign dollars create advertising and promote divisive ideas, implying the opposition will do horrible things.  Divisive ideas harden the political base making if ever more difficult to find common ground.  When individuals having disparity views on specific issues meet personally they frequently find many things they can agree on.

Representational Disparities:  All Americans are not represented equally in congress, this is basically undemocratic.  Americans living outside the 50 states do not have a voting representative in congress.  Some congressional districts have as few as 568,000 population per congressional district and others districts as many as 900,000 with an average of 713,000.  In the 2012 election Republicans won a majority of the seats in the house although they received fewer votes than the Democrats.  The Washington Post reports “Democrats got 54,301,095 votes while Republicans got 53,822,442. That’s a close election – 48.8%-48.5% -but it’s still a popular vote win for the Democrats.”  Although voters favored Democrats by over half a million votes Republicans control the house, which is undemocratic.

Low Citizen Participation: Participation is low because candidates do not have sufficient appeal to the voters they are courting.  A geographic district with 700,000 residents frequently does not have local candidates that motivate a large number of voters to really support and campaign for them.  Many never see a candidate worth registering to vote for.  Of those registered many do not vote for the same reason, or lack of reason.  Increasing the choices to include the best champions the nation has to offer will motivate registration, voting and campaigning for candidates voters really feel strongly about, making America more democratic.

Prescription: Requiring constitutional amendment

1. Revoke corporate citizenship rights – reverse the Citizens United v FEC decision.  Make corporate participation in the political process an individual criminal offense.  See Wikipedia .

2. Allow legislation that limits political campaign contributions and requires true transparency. Overturn the money is free speech decision Buckley v. Valeo.  See Wikipedia

3. In the presidential elections the voters in the swing states have the power to swing the election; while the rest feel their votes don’t matter.  The Electoral College must be abolished and replaced with majority elections.  All registered US citizen can vote no matter where they live.  Today voters in PR, Washington DC, Guam and other US territory have no electoral votes, they don’t count.


Regarding electing congress:  In June of even number years a national congressional primary will be held.  Candidates that collect 5000 signatures from eligible voters will appear on the ballot.  All US citizens who register can vote for any of the qualifying candidates.  The 1000 candidates receiving the most votes in June proceed to the general election in November when any registered voter can vote for any of the 1000 candidates.  The 435 candidates with the most votes become the new congress.  When casting legislative votes in congress; the member will cast the number of votes equal to the number of voters who voted for the member minus those who voted against them.

Items 1, 2 & 3 occur before 4.  

A phase in plan that is not traumatic to the political process will be required.  Since this plan requires constitutional change it will take some time for it to be understood and reviewed by the public before it can be implemented.

Changes to the current Constitution – Parts of the Constitution that would require change:

Article 1 Section 2

No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

Article 1  Section. 4.

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of choosing Senators.

From Amendment 14, Section 2.

Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

Currently voters vote for a candidate and against another.  To fill the need to vote against a candidate there are several prescription possibilities:

• Every voter gets both a yes and no vote.  The no votes are deducted from the yes votes.  

• Every voter gets one vote which may be either a yes or no vote.  The no votes are deducted from the yes votes.

• Every voter just gets a yes vote.

How does the prescription address the symptoms?

This prescription addresses the issues of political parties with single digit registration percentages being able to muster enough votes to send someone to congress to represent their party’s agenda & priorities.

US citizens in Washington DC, Puerto Rico, Guam and other US territories who are not currently represented in congress under the current constitution would have voting representation.  All Americans will have voting representation in the congress. Rhode Island has 525,394 residents for its one house seat while Montana has 967,440.00 residents for its’ seat, the national average is 712,973 residents per house seat.  .  Source Datamaster.  All Americans will have equal representation if the prescription is filled and implemented.

220 million Americans are eligible to vote, 180 million are registered to vote and 120 million voted in 2012.  Of those who did vote; about half did not get their choice.  Those who voted for the winner frequently got what they thought of as the lesser of the evils anyway.  Many don’t vote because they are not sufficiently motivated by the choices of candidates they have on there ballots.  With 1000 choices they are more likely to find a candidate who fits the unique personal political imperatives and preferences of the individual voter.  More of those eligible to vote will find reason to register and vote with a better selection of candidates.  More campaigners will find candidates they feel are worth campaigning for, who are champions for the issues they feel strongly about.

Grassroots campaigning will be very effective since all voters may vote for any candidate.  Big money campaigning will big less effective since it addresses mass audiences.  Currently, big money campaigns focus on a few swing states and a few swing districts; making them effective.  Grassroots campaigners can try to convince individual voters who are the friends, family, co-workers and neighbors of the campaigners to vote for a specific candidate.  Grassroots campaigns increase democracy while big money campaigns are work against democracy.  Representatives elected by grassroots campaigns enjoy wide spread constituent support.

The elected representative will be using constituent votes every time the representative votes in congress.  That gives each vote a greater impact.  The voter is gratified knowing that his or her vote added to their representative political clout.  Most voters would have voted for someone who was elected, making them feel enfranchised rather than disenfranchised.  Currently, about half the voters who bother to vote, back a losing candidate.

Gridlock is a product of poor choices, money and manipulation.  With voters given what they see as poor choices with the current constitutional arrangement, they don’t vote or they can be convinced to vote for the lesser of the evils.  They are vulnerable to manipulation by expensive advertising.  They are subjected to negative attacks by candidate’s campaigns on each other because of the one on one nature of the congressional campaigns.  With 1000 candidates for 435 offices, one candidate does not have a specific adversary, no one to attack.  In the future, candidates might be forced to run on there own attributes, specific issues and positions.  During the campaigns champions for and against specific positions on an issue may debate.  

Champions for issues will emerge with the weight of the issue’s supporters’ votes.  The champion mix in congress will know exactly why their constituency voted for them.  In order to champion a specific agenda the champion will have to form alliances and end gridlock.  New coalitions will emerge for each issue rather than the voting/vetoing block that gridlocks today’s congress.  Issue champions might be free of party orthodoxy.  Currently debates turn into sniping attacks that are focused on embarrassing the other candidate rather than shedding light on issues.  Debates between opposing champions will be more substantive than they are today.

How will the prescription reduce gridlock?

The 80/20 rule will probably hold; 20% of the representatives will get 80% of the votes.  87 congressional representatives would have a sufficient numbers of votes to have voting relevance although all 435 would be allowed to participate on committees and take part in the debate of issues.  The top 87 or fewer would have sufficient votes to pass legislation; making it easier to create operative coalitions than with the current 435 geographically chosen representatives requiring 218 to agree.  The top few vote getters would have the most discretion over legislation and since they would be champions for specific issues they know who they represent and how those voters want them to vote.  The issues of greatest importance to voters will get the most congressional attention, as it should be in a democracy.

Today’s congress member purports to represent both those who voted for them and those who did not.  That becomes difficult when the interests of one constituent run contrary to another’s.  When champions go to congress they will represent those who voted for them and will be judged by those who might vote for them again.  Today congressional candidates frequently flip flop in an attempt to please all district constituents, it makes them seem dishonest, turning off voters.  Champions won’t flip flop to please disparate constituents.  

If a district resident has a problem today they may go to the local congressional office for help.  A constituent may ask their congressional representative for help on a specific issue.  If the representative does not hold the issue as a high enough priority as the constituent, they may do nothing or if they are opposed to the constituents’ position, they will certainly do nothing to help.  If a champion representative was approached for help on the issue that they champion they would try hard to be of help.  The champion is more likely to be an expert and have staff that is expert on the champion’s issues.  Today if a voter found a champion for their issue but the voter does not live in the representative’s district they will find it very difficult to make contact with the representative.

In order to move closer to a perfect union; constitutional change will be required, it has never come easy.  In the age of electronic media, democracy can come in ways never dreamed of centuries ago.  We live in the age of complex priorities, we need legislators that reflect those priorities and not balancing act candidates designed to garner the most votes in a geographic district.  New technologies make political information available at a level that could not be conceived centuries ago, that information and technology allows voters to make the wise choices that best fit individual political priorities.

What will it take to change the constitution?

From Article 5

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of it’s equal Suffrage in the Senate.

A new federal agency will be needed to administer nationwide elections.  The agency is needed not only to to run a national election but also because state voter administration has been corrupted and an agency with career public servants can be better relied on for an honest count.  

This proposal will take awhile before it can possibly be enacted; if there is no discussion started it may never happen.  Today there is no meaningful discussion about ending gridlock, only empty promises to try to play nice by the politicians.  There is no consideration of structural change.

What can you do?  This proposal is in infancy, it needs critiquing, polishing and framing.  There may be overlooked benefits and disincentives that might be pointed out.  Please leave a comment.

Prop 32 is a DEATH THREAT to American Democracy

The San Bernadino Sun says

Proposition 32 prohibits unions and corporations from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes, which on the surface sounds fair and balanced. But 99.9 percent of California corporations don’t use payroll deduction for political giving; they would still be allowed to use their corporate profits to influence elections.

Instead, Proposition 32 unfairly singles out and limits the voices of teachers, nurses and firefighters who keep us safe. It takes away the ability of these everyday heroes to speak out on issues that matter to us all, like cuts to schools, police and fire response times, workplace safety, consumer protections, and homeowner rights.

Official Voter pamphlet summary ——- Italics indicates text from the voter pamphlet  

Prohibits unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. Applies same use prohibition to payroll deductions, if any, by corporations or government contractors. Prohibits union and corporate contributions to candidates and their committees. Prohibits government contractor contributions to elected officers or their committees.

Unions are a vital entity in the Democratic Party, which will become an irrelevant third party if union participation stops. If Prop 32 passed the only voices in the political process will be corporate voices.  

California is one of the most Democratic states; if Prop 32 passes Prop 32 type ballot measures will be put on the ballot in every other state until no labor union in America has a political voice.  American Democracy demands that all the people have a voice.

Both unions and corporations will be deterred from participation in the political process. Prop 32 will have a far greater negative effect on unions than on corporations. Corporate funds will still be available for supporting ballot measures but not candidates. Union funds collected through payroll deductions cannot be used to support candidates, ballot measures or lobbying.

What won’t unions be able to do?

No Labor union shall make a contribution to any candidate, candidate controlled committee; or to any other committee, including a political party committee, if such funds will be used to make contributions to any candidate or candidate controlled committee.

This part says nothing about payroll deductions. It also says nothing about ballot measures. No union funds may be used to elect candidates, no matter what the source.

No Labor union shall deduct from an employee’s wages, earnings, or compensation any amount of money to be used for political purposes.

This includes supporting ballot measures and candidates with payroll deducted union dues.  It also means that there can be no political content in communications such as newsletters to union members.  Union website would similarly be banned from advocating political positions.

“Political purposes” means a payment made to influence or attempt to influence the action of voters for or against the nomination or election of a candidate or candidates, or the qualification or passage of any measure; or any payment received by or made at the behest of a candidate, a controlled committee, a committee of a political party, including a state central committee, and county central committee, or an organization formed or existing primarily for political purposes, including, but not limited to, a political action committee established by any membership organization, labor union, public employee labor union, or corporation.

This definition seems to include lobbying and support of Democratic clubs and central committees.  Support includes use of union halls for campaigning, meetings, organizing, phone banking and fund raising.  Unions would be prevented from providing the feet on the street for door to door campaigning.  

What will unions be able to do?

Union members and everyone else will still be able to make voluntary donations for political causes to PACs. Some unions may choose to collect dues directly from members or to collect some portion of dues directly from members. Dues collected directly would be exempt from the ban on political spending for ballot measures. Some union members may agree to pay dues directly rather than through payroll deductions, those dues may be used for supporting ballot measures.

Labor union” means any organization of any kind, or any agency or employee representation committee or plan, in which employees participate and which exists for the purpose, in whole or in part, of dealing with employers.

This apparently includes all labor union in the US, but CA courts have no jurisdiction for unions outside CA. National unions with membership in CA may be included.

What won’t corporations be able to do?

No corporation shall make a contribution to any candidate, candidate controlled committee; or to any other committee, including a political party committee, if such funds will be used to make contributions to any candidate or candidate controlled committee.

Note that this says nothing about payroll deductions. This provision prevents corporate funding of candidate elections.  Corporations don’t fund candidate elections, corporate PACs joined and funded by executives fund candidates.  

“Corporation” means every corporation organized under the laws of this state, any other state of the United States, or the District of Columbia, or under an act of the Congress of the United States.

If a corporation any place in the US makes any political contribution to any candidate it is in violation of this law.

What will corporations be able to do?

Corporate, pre-tax funds can be used for supporting ballot measures and for lobbying. Corporate executives and anyone else can voluntarily donate for political causes to PACs; this is the way most conservative PACs are currently funded.  

Corporations are frequently members of advocacy organization like the Camber of Commerce and will continue to wield political influence through those organizations. lists PACs by industry, Prop 32 will not prevent these PACs from doing anything that they are currently doing.   Some corporations like defense contractor Northrup Grumman have their own PAC in the name of their employees with their VP of Government Relations as the person in charge of the PAC which is funded by donations from employees.  Those who want to rise in corporate management are wise to make contributions to the company PAC.  

Bottom line

Unions are greatly deterred from political activities while corporations are deterred from doing what they don’t do anyway.  Without a strong union voice American Democracy will not last long.  Vote NO on Prop 32 and tell everyone you know why it is a DEATH THREAT to DEMOCRACY.



On Thursday, December 1, 2011 a small group of us TriValley activists sang satirical carols at Stoneridge Mall in Pleasanton California.  One of the activist dressed as Scrooge heckled the carolers, telling us to take a bath and get a job at Walmart.  We had called the mall management a few days earlier and told them of the event.  We got an OK for a small number to come to Stoneridge.  

Pictures at… .

When we arrived there were police as well as security guards to greet us.  Security handed out a small card with the mall rules.  10 singers plus Scrooge proceed to start singing with comic relief heckling between songs.  I handed out balloons that said, “99%” or Tax Wall St” or Tax the rich”.  A few mothers with toddlers took balloons.  A security guard told me he had checked with mall management and handing out balloons was not allowed.  I questioned why others were allowed to hand out paper with the song lyrics but this message was not allowed because it was on a rubber balloon.  I refrained from giving out any more balloons but asked two security guards for the no balloon rule in writing.  I gave them my card.

Why make a fuss over balloons?  When a mother takes a balloon for her child to carry while she shops, she is telling other shoppers she is in agreement with our cause.  That shapes public opinion.  One rule for shaping public opinion is to go where the public is, the mall.  Malls are warm and dry.  Malls are crowded.  Balloons are a non-confrontational way of shaping opinion.  You need not say a word when offering someone a balloon.  They are not fattening, messy, loud or annoying.  It is not hard to write on balloons with wide Sharpie markers.

After about an hour the event was over.  I went home to see if I could find the rules on line at the Simon Corp. website only to find out that they are the largest commercial real estate company in the country.  But they did not have “RULES AND REGULATIQNS  FOR EXPRESSIVE ACTIVITIES AT STONERIDGE. MALL” on line.  I went down to the mall the next day to get a paper copy.  I spoke to the mall general manager and asked why I was prevented from handing out balloons.  He said the balloons would float to the ceiling.  I told him they had no helium.  I asked if I brought balloons that had no helium would that be allowed.  He said he would not stop me.  I asked that he give me that in writing.  He declined.  I asked if someone at corporate headquarters would put it in writing, he said no.  

I later read the “RULES AND REGULATIQNS FOR EXPRESSIVE ACTIVITIES AT STONERIDGE. MALL” and found that mall management is aware of its obligation to allow EXPRESSIVE ACTIVITIES but they do everything legally possible to make it difficult.  I scanned the document so I could put it on line.  They did everything possible to make it difficult to make a soft copy of the document.  Extra characters and a numbering of every line confuse optical character recognizer software built into my scanner.  I was able to make a PDF of the document from images.…

It is not easy to get mall management to go along with your EXPRESSIVE ACTIVITIES.  The rules should be read carefully and a copy should be obtained from any other mall management office in the Simon Corp group where an action is planned.  There are several concerns:

• An application must be filled out several days in advance

• They may ask for a $50 refundable cleaning deposit

• One person has to be responsible

• Insurance may be required, it is unclear who decides

• Every participant must be identified

• Literature and song lyrics must be submitted in advance

• Time and location specified in advance

If you do your homework and get the OK from mall management; balloons are a powerful media to increase public support in a non-confrontational way.  You are not going to change anyone’s opinion in the mall, but you can give those who already agree with us a way of expressing that opinion, they in turn encourage others to speak out courageously.  

The Foreclosure Deterrent Project

Why do banks foreclose instead of helping the owners renegotiate the mortgage payments? The federal bailout guarantees the banks would be made whole on the mortgage if they foreclose.  If they don’t foreclose the banks risk not being made whole and losing money.  

Our goal is to change that equation so that the banks which foreclose will have to consider the cost of keeping up property by creating a negative cash flow until the property is sold.  Renegotiating with the borrowers could be better for the bank.  The California legislature has given local government the tool to compel banks to maintain foreclosed property.

SB1137 a California Law passed in 2008 says:  

“A legal owner shall maintain vacant residential property purchased by that owner at a foreclosure sale, or acquired by that owner through foreclosure under a mortgage or deed of trust. A governmental entity may impose a civil fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000) per day for a violation.”

Several cities have implemented ordinances based on SB 1137 with some success.  The Foreclosure Deterrent Project strategy is to convince city governments to pass similar ordinances, by making best practices documents available including ordinances already in place, listings of East Bay cities where a large number of bank owned single family dwellings are for sale and other pertinent documents including SB 1137.  The Foreclosure Deterrent Project with links to these resources can be found at

The banks;

• sold mortgages to the unsuspecting unqualified,

• bundled these high risk mortgages with OK mortgages from the qualified,

• had the bundle rated as AAA even though they were risk infested,

• insured them with AIG, Fannie & Freddie,

• bet on them defaulting,

• sold the bundle to some other bank,

• got the Federal Government (our taxes) to cover the losses at AIG, Freddie & Fannie

• … the new owner banks foreclose & do not negotiate with the borrowers.

The problem is the insurance guarantees the banks will get the money owed on the mortgage if they foreclose (guaranteed by our federal bailout tax dollars backing up the insurers). So while the banks promised to re-negotiate loans, they drag their feet until borrowers give up in frustration. The new owner banks bought the high default risk mortgages at wholesale rates and are now making profits by foreclosing. The bank bailout is the insurance guarantee for the banks that they will be made whole.

7 million are facing foreclosure; millions have already left their homes.  The Foreclosure Deterrent Project won’t end foreclosures but will deter some particularly when maintaining vacant property includes paying homeowners association dues, keeping the property secure and safe.  

Banks foreclosing on condominiums frequently stop paying real estate taxes and home owners association (HOA) fees causing the remaining homeowners to make-up the shortfall. The HOA usually puts a lien on the condo to recover the arrears HOA fees, which may be paid only after back taxes. The bank then tells the HOA it has a buyer who won’t cover the arrears HOA fees. The bank makes the HOA a take it or leave it offer. If the HOA leaves the offer then the remaining owners continue to make-up the shortfall.

You can help by making SB 1137 related information available to city council members, county supervisors, legislators, realtors, public safety officials and Home Owner Association members.  All of these groups have stakes in decreasing the inclination of banks to foreclose, increasing local government revenue, protecting property values, increasing public safety, creating jobs and penalizing foreclosing banks for neglecting foreclosed property.  If you think this approach makes sense then take it to your city council and pass it on.

Who are the California Republican Legislators?

California Republican Legislators refused to let voters decide about the tax extensions suggested by Governor Brown.  Republican Legislators are to blame for the all cuts budget that was just passed and all the damage and pain the cuts will cause in California.  14 Senators and 27 Assembly Members have blocked all attempts at increasing revenue to fund critical state functions.  They should be held responsible for these actions.  But first – Who are they exactly?  Who elected them?  Where?  

Check out the list of these legislators with links to their official state funded web pages, photos and a list of cities and towns they represent including some zip codes.  The geographic information was found on Wikipedia.  

View the list in MS WORD format at

or in PDF at  

Freeloading Multinational Job Killers

Protected by the NO NEW TAX pledge many multinational corporations do not pay their fair share.  Consequently, government does not have enough money for education and other vital services.  The missing revenue could be creating jobs and infrasture, instead of pain.  Congress has not acted because closing tax loopholes violates the Tea Party & GOP No New Tax pledge.

Some of the most profitable corporations stashed ONE TRILLION DOLLARS in off shore tax havens legally.  Several sources combine to reveal which corporations, how much they stashed, how they do it and proposed legislation.

“Profits on an overseas holiday” in Bloomberg Businessweek 3/21/11 says that US multinational corporations are holding over ONE TRILLION DOLLARS off shore hoping and lobbying for a tax holiday opportunity to bring it home. During last US tax holiday in 2004 when the tax rate went down from 35% to 5.25% corporations promised to use the repatriated stash for job creation but instead used it for stock re-purchase and other means of giving the value to stock holders, but not for job creation.

An army of tax accountants, lawyers and lobbyist make sure US multinationals reap the maximum tax benefits allowed by law. Businessweek names the 22 companies with the largest overseas stashes totaling $654 Billion. Senator Bernie Sanders compiled a list of 10 companies that pay little or no taxes.   Sander’s list and revelations in the Businessweek article pinpoint Freeloading Multinational Job Killers not paying their fair share..

ONE TRILLION DOLLARS is sitting off shore because US law allows multinationals to claim profits in tax haven countries legally.  By shifting profits to avoid taxes ONE TRILLION DOLLARS has accumulated in those tax havens.  An additional ONE TRILLION DOLLARS held on shore by corporations is the reason US job growth has been so slow. The taxes that should have been paid are not creating jobs which would create demand which creates jobs.   Many of these corporations were responsible for creating the recession and are now hampering the recovery.  

Other countries do not allow corporations to dodge taxes, taxing corporations based on either where the products or services are sold or where employee salaries are paid.  The NO NEW TAX pledge prevents legislation that would change the laws to prevent the corporate tax evasion.   The corporations and individual taxpayers who do pay a fair share should be irate, since we are also picking up the tab for freeloaders and borrowing from our grandchildren to do so.

The chart at (I could not figure out how to post the chart on Calitics) shows what portion of profits that some of the largest US multinationals are declaring for tax purposes off shore versus how much they sell (revenue) off shore.  Some companies’ revenue off shore matches profits off shore, they pay a fair share while companies like B of A paid no US taxes and in fact took a US tax refund while 79% of revenue was from the US, they do not pay a fair share.  

Taxing corporations where they employee citizens who are educated in public schools and travel on public roads would force freeloaders to pay a fair share for all the benefits they take currently take advantage of and are paid for by taxes from the rest of us.  Will the American people continue to make due with less and fewer government services that protect and empower them or will they pull the plug on these freeloading job killers.  That’s up to you. TAKE ACTION >>> Please distribute this article.

A union guy, a bear and Grover Norquist walk into a bar

The punch line is at the end of the story.

A School Financial Emergency was declared on January 6th
“There’s simply no other way to describe it: this is an emergency, every day, teachers, school employees, and principals are performing miracles, but the $18 billion in cuts over the last three years are taking their toll. We have 174 districts teetering on the financial brink. If this isn’t an emergency, I don’t know what is.” Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, declared before the latest even deeper $5B CUT TO K-12 FUNDING for the coming school year. Predictions from Torlakson’s office are that cuts for K-12 could result in either huge class sizes OR the school year starting in OCTOBER. Districts will respond differently, some could layoff, tap reserves or pass parcel taxes. Statewide, school superintendents are being polled by Torlakson as to what they plan to do when the $5B budget cut to K-12 is made.

Governor Brown ended budget negotiations on March 29, abandoning talks with Republicans on closing California's $26.6 billion deficit, effectively ending what has been his primary goal since taking office: a bipartisan plan that would include a June ballot measure. Brown will now try to get a revenue source on the ballot in November by collecting the 700,000 plus signatures required. Legislative Republicans took the Grover Norquist pledge not to raise taxes and refuse to put the question on the ballot. Breaking the Norquist pledge invites retribution as does breaking the first rule of bears.

The first rule of bears: Never get between momma and cubs. Preventing California voters from deciding about the extensions; that would start the school year on time, violates the first rule of bears. Until the school year starts the cubs will remind momma why they are home.

This is more important than the California Budget in 2011. California leads a nation watching how we respond to the conservative attack and how we re-frame the situation as: California does not have money for education and vital services because protected by the Norquist pledge; many of the largest corporations are not paying fair shares. You can help get out the word and make the PTA/soccer moms, pops and grandparents aware of the DANGER to the cubs.

How can Brown bring labor issues (collective bargaining etc) in line with momma bears angered by K-12 cuts? The GOP will blame unions for revenue shortfalls because of pensions. The unions will be funding the ballot initiatives Brown is now talking about. It costs a megabuck or two to get enough signatures just for one ballot measure. Unions are the ONLY possible source of funds for the ballot measure. The question is: What to go for?

  • Just the extension: If passed still means at least $14B in cuts compared to the last year's budget.
  • 1% on > $500K incomes: Raises additional $2.5B – voters like this one
  • Oil excise tax at the well head: Raises $2.5B but invites a fight with the oil lobby
  • Assessment of property owned by large publicly held corporations when > 100% of stock is sold cumulatively a specific number of times (stock for large companies changes hands about 100%/year. Chevron & Exxon stock for a particular day traded 1/250 of the total stock value of each company. There are about 250 trading days/year) Making the requirement 3 to 5 x 100% is practical. It would have to be retroactive, so that corporations would have to be assessed immediately for taxes in 2011. This would cover the entire $26B all by itself. It better include funding for the assessor's offices.
  • Something completely different!

Which of these alternatives the unions decide to sponsor will determine the financial future of California. Union officials are duty bound to their members to act in the members’ best interests and not to waste funds on activities that are likely to fail. The unions have to determine who they will be opposing because getting the initiative on the ballot is just the start. Getting it passed with well financed opposition will be difficult.

The punch line: A union guy, a bear and Grover Norquist walk into a bar to meet Jerry Brown for lunch. What did they eat? Whatever the bear wanted. Who picked up the bill? Depends on what the bear orders.  Moral: There is no free lunch. 

Banks neglect cost lives

It did not have to happen.  

The December 29, 2010 fire in Oakland took the lives of a man, a young mother and her child leaving a seven year old.  The bank / property owner failed to install smoke alarms in the Oakland apartments which the bank owned since 2007.  Many banks are foreclosing on properties where people live and are failing to take the responsibilities that property ownership requires.

Banks foreclosing on condominiums frequently stop paying real estate taxes and home owners association (HOA) fees causing the remaining homeowners to make-up the shortfall.  The HOA usually puts a lien on the condo to recover the arrears HOA fees, which may be paid only after back taxes.  The bank then tells the HOA it has a buyer who won’t cover the arrears HOA fees.  The bank makes the HOA a take it or leave it offer.  If the HOA leaves the offer then the remaining owners will continue to cover the shortfall.

Banks frequently do not keep up foreclosed properties nor do they assure the properties are safe and secure so they don’t turn into crack houses or catch on fire, like the one in Oakland.

Legislation that reverses this situation with teeth that penalizes banks for violations would make the banks want to negotiate as an alternative to foreclosure.  The legislation should state:

• Banks that foreclose must continue to pay HOA membership fees and real estate taxes – on time.

• Foreclosed property must be kept safe and maintained so as not to drive down near by property values.

• Foreclosed property must be safe and secure to assure that it is not vandalized or used for illegal purposes.

The benefits of legislation that supports these concepts include:

Improving public safety and health of those occupying foreclosed property and those near by.

• Protecting home owners who had no role in the foreclosure from rising HOA fees and decreasing property value due to neglected near by properties.

• Making the decision to foreclose more painful for the banks;

  o Reducing the number of foreclosures

  o Increasing the number of re-negotiated mortgages

A property owner has a responsibility to make the property safe, clean and up to pertaining codes. The owner can face criminal penalties when neglecting those responsibilities results in damages.  Frequently banks shirk those responsibilities.

In Oakland it resulted in fatalities.  

Contact your elected officials while the memory of this tragedy is still fresh in your mind.  Pass this on.