April 26, 2012
Mattos, Editor and Publisher
Leroy Pyle, Webmaster
The Farsider is an independent publication that is not
affiliated with the San Jose Police Benevolent
Assn. The SJPBA has allowed the Farsider to be included on its web site solely
for the convenience
of the retired San Jose Police community. The content of this newsletter does
not represent or reflect
the views of the San Jose Police Benevolent Association's Board of Directors or
THE PBA'S APRIL BIRTHDAY BOYS
Below is a short video by
Leroy of the PBA's April Birthday Boys who attended last Wednesday's monthly
meeting. In addition to highlighting Will Battaglia, Paul Salerno, John Porter,
Rich Frazier, John Kregel, Pat McGuire (intentionally trying to hide), John Quin,
Bob DeGeorge and Walt Robinson, our Webmaster also tossed in a plug for JoeMac's
new book: "Love and Death in Silicon Valley."
—Measure B ballot language
The daily poll the Mercury
News has been running about the pension reform ballot measure since early March
has been replaced with one asking readers if San Jose should ban restaurants
from using Styrofoam and other polystyrene? I had to dig deep into the bowels of
the paper's website to find the pension ballot poll. While it is still open,
it's unlikely anyone will go to the trouble to find it. Last week the running
tally looked like this:
Below are the results as of
yesterday (Wed.) afternoon. If you do the math, you will see that the poll
generated 203 additional votes over the past week, and that the Yes votes have
increased by 2 percent.
Numerous comments about the ballot measure by
(presumably) City employees as well as the public can be seen by clicking on
this link where the poll is located. Click on the link then scroll down to the
• • • • •
Chuck Blackmore directed us
to the portion of the City's website that shows the text of Measure B that will
appear on the June 5th ballot...
Following are the arguments
for and against the ballot measure as well as the rebuttals to the arguments for
and against. For the full text of Measure B, the resolution on Measure B, and
the City Clerk's Impartial Analysis, click on this link to download a .pdf file
to your desktop that you can open and view with a double-click...
Argument in Favor of Measure B
Annual retirement costs skyrocketed from $73 million to $245 million over the
last decade, causing service cuts throughout the city. The City’s share of
retirement costs exceeds 50% of payroll, far more than the 6.2% of payroll
private employers pay for social security. Retirement costs consume more than
20% of the general fund and are projected by independent actuaries to increase
for years. This is unsustainable.
Many city retirees receive more than $100,000 per year, plus healthcare
Future generations of taxpayers will have to pay billions of dollars for
unfunded liabilities created by the retirement plans.
Measure B would protect retirement benefits already earned by current employees
but would reduce the cost to the city by making changes going forward. It would
not cut current payments to retirees. It would prohibit spiking of pension
Current city employees will pay a larger share of the cost of retirement
benefits, a step already taken by over 200 California cities. New employees and
the city would share the cost of retirement benefits with a 50/50 match in a new
lower-cost plan. Over 100 California cities have adopted lower-cost plans for
City employees are presently paying less than 1/4 of the cost of their
retirement benefits. Private sector employees usually pay 1/2 of the cost.
Measure B will require current city employees to pay more than 1/3 of the cost
of their retirement benefits and new city employees to pay 1/2 of the cost of
their retirement benefits.
The City Charter gives the voters the right to change retirement benefits. The
city will seek judicial review before changes are implemented to minimize legal
Mayor Reed, Vice Mayor Nguyen, and Councilmembers Constant, Herrera, Liccardo,
and Oliverio support Measure B.
Vote yes on Measure B for pension reform.
Chuck Reed, Mayor of San Jose
Matthew Mahood, President & CEO, San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce
John Roeder, President, Santa Clara County Taxpayers Association
Suzanne Salata, San Jose Small Business Owner
Fernando R. Zazueta, Attorney at law
~ ~ ~
Argument Against Measure B
Here’s what Measure B backers aren’t telling you: It could eliminate
disability retirements for police and firefighters injured on the job and unable
to perform their previous duties, it increases by thousands of dollars the
amount widows and seniors pay for promised health care, and the City admitted
that Measure B may not be constitutional because it violates employees’ vested
Measure B is riddled with legal risk. Read what City Hall told Wall Street bond
investors about its pension scheme: “Finally, existing law regarding vested
rights and impairment of contracts may limit the City’s ability to change
retirement benefits for current employees and retirees…”. But city officials
never even tried to offer taxpayers a way to achieve any savings that would
stand up in court.
Legal pension reform is important, but so are facts. City workers recently took
10%-18% pay cuts and don’t receive Social Security. The average federated
pension is approximately $37,885.
Employees proposed dozens of legal pension reforms that would have increased
retirement ages, reduced benefit levels, and lowered COLA’s. Police and fire
even proposed to cut pensions back to 1972 levels. Putting politics above
policy, politicians said “NO”. Now, these same politicians want you to gamble
with our City’s financial future.
In December, as an excuse for putting this measure on the ballot, politicians
unsuccessfully tried to declare a fiscal emergency and described catastrophic
cuts to city services. Now, all of a sudden, there is a $10 million budget
surplus and millions to improve roads near a proposed sports stadium and to
subsidize the Downtown Association. This pattern of inaccurate financial
projections, meant to scare voters, helped convince the State’s Joint
Legislative Audit Committee to audit the City of San Jose’s finances.
Tell the city to negotiate legal pension reform, Vote NO on Measure B
Authors for Argument Against Measure B
1. Helen Chapman, Former Chair, San Jose Parks Commission
2. Pattie Cortese, San Jose Taxpayer
3. James Spence, President, Association of Retired San
Jose Police Officers & Firefighters
4. John S. DiQuisto, Retired Captain, San Jose Fire Dept
5. Cay Denise MacKenzie, San Jose City Analyst
~ ~ ~
Rebuttal to Argument in Favor
of Measure B
City politicians distorted San Jose’s budget and pension issues and now
they’ve put a pension measure on the ballot that their own attorneys have
declared “risky”. Measure B won’t open a single library, hire a single cop or
pave a single street. San Jose can do better, Vote No on Measure B.
City employees don’t receive Social Security and the average federated pension
is $37,885; employees rely on their pension for retirement security. How would
you feel if Congress slashed your Social Security? It’s just not right.
Recently, city employees took pay cuts of 10% to 18%. They contribute up to 17%
of pay toward retirement and Measure B could boost that to 33%. When combined,
about half an employee’s paycheck evaporates before paying for taxes, groceries,
rent, mortgage or gas. That’s not fair and that’s not what was promised.
City politicians tried to declare a “fiscal emergency” even though there’s now a
budget surplus and made up pension projections that were inflated by hundreds of
millions over actual costs. Politicians continue to recklessly spend on fixing
roads near a proposed sports stadium and on supporting the Downtown Association.
The California State Auditor has been ordered to get to the bottom of San Jose’s
fiscal shenanigans in an attempt to bring sanity to local budgeting.
Tell the City to negotiate legal pension reform – Vote No on B
~ ~ ~
Rebuttal to Argument Against
Measure B follows California law. The California
Constitution grants the City authority to change employee compensation. The City
Charter gives voters the right to change retirement benefits. The Municipal Code
allows the City to require employees to pay more for retirement benefits, which
is an element of Governor Brown’s pension reforms and was recommended by the
Santa Clara County Grand Jury.
Grand Jury Report:
Measure B would also allow employees who wish to pay
less for retirement benefits to choose a lower cost optional plan that saves
them and the City money.
Upon voter approval of Measure B, the city will immediately seek a judicial
review to minimize the cost of legal disputes. See the legal opinion of outside
A Stanford report found that San Jose public safety
retirees' average annual pension benefit ($90,612) is the highest of any
independent pension system in California.
The City Auditor found that disability retirements
among San Jose's sworn employees are considerably higher than other
jurisdictions and 67% of fire retirees were receiving disability retirement
payments. Some employees granted disability retirements were working full time
in their regular job right up to when they separated from the City. The Auditor
recommended the City Charter be amended to reform the system.
The City engaged in hundreds of hours of negotiations with 11 employee
unions, including 20 sessions with state mediators, but was unable to reach
agreement on language for Measure B.
Vote yes on Measure B.
Rebuttal to Argument Against Measure B
Order of Signers
Marcia Fritz, President, California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility
Dakin Sloss, Director, California Common Sense
James Duran, Chair, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Silicon Valley
Brian J. Blach, Pension Consultant
Donald P. Gagliardi, Attorney at Law
That's all we
have this week on the pension reform issue.
REGARDING YOUR HEALTH CARE PLAN?
Roger Finton provided us
with a couple of links that should answer any questions you may have about the
new health care co-pays that affect most of us regardless of which plan you are
covered under. Click on this link, then on the appropriate link for your
For for those of you who
have Kaiser Senior Advantage (Kaiser & Medicare), this link will download a .pdf
file to your desktop. If you double-click the icon it will display many of the
procedures you are likely to encounter as well as their co-pays.
Results from last week's poll...
This is how last week's poll breaks down in a pie
For the full scope of state and national polling by Scott
Rasmussen, click on this link:
For the most recent releases, click here:
Bill I hate to do this to you, but I'm looking for any retirees down in the
Tulare or Fresno Co. area. I have a full time job managing an account there. For
the life of me I cant remember anybody close to that area. Any thoughts?
CEO, Creative Security Company Inc.
San Jose, CA 95110
I drew a blank, so I replied and asked Chuck if
he wanted his question posted in the Farsider. He said he did, so call or e-mail
if you can provide him with a lead.
• • • • •
The article on Candelaria took me back 40 years. I had just been hired, and as
you know, we had no academy or formal training officers. We were simply assigned
to ride in a patrol car with a veteran officer for a period of time.
One night I was assigned to work with Leroy Widman in an "A" car. We were
downtown near St. James Park when we observed a fight raging between two men.
Leroy was driving and told me to keep track of the guy doing the most punching.
As Leroy turned the patrol car to get closer to the park, we were involved in a
When we both exited the car the fight stopped, and we were immediately
surrounded by a large number of people. All of a sudden a guy from the crowd
dressed in fatigues approached and started agitating the mob by claiming that
since we were involved in an accident we were no longer police officers. The
crowed started getting hostile and bottles started being thrown. Leroy yelled to
the crowd that the next person to throw a bottle would be arrested. I remember
thinking that I had just been hired and my career may be very short-lived. The
street was so packed with people that patrol cars were unable to get to us.
Thank God for the motor units that were able to break through and save us.
As additional officers were finally able to arrive on the scene the crowd
started to disperse. One of the motor officers was writing a citation to the
agitator dressed in fatigues. He was very upset and yelling "I not signing the
ticket." A sergeant was summoned to intervene. When the motor office explained
to the sergeant the agitator's refusal to sign, a smile came to my face when the
sergeant said "Book em." Cuff's were applied, but before he was gently assisted
into the rear of the patrol car, he turned to the remaining onlookers and
yelled, "They're booking me for jay walking, they're booking me for jay
walking." It was only later I learned that agitator was Sal Candelaria.
Don Carraher Badge # 1464
• • • • •
Bill & Leroy,
Ah yes...Sal Candelaria and the Fiesta De La Rosas Parade. I remember it well. I
had been on motors for about three months in the spring of 1969. The City had
some commemorative coins made up to publicize and celebrate the occasion.
Unfortunately, whoever conceived the idea was apparently unaware of the
resentment of what it stood for in the Latino community. As I recall, it stood
for the Spanish Conquistadors and what they did in Mexico.
The parade started out on East Santa Clara around 10th Street and headed West.
It was led by a "V" formation of Harley motorcycles moving very slow. We were
cheered at first, then as we turned South onto 1st Street things began to
happen. The Charro Riders had fire crackers thrown at them which caused some
concern about the horses' reaction. Agitators ran amongst the Charros who used
their whips or lashes to fend them off. At one point when the parade was held
up, bags of excrement were flung about and at us. There was quite a bit of
agitation activity all the way down 1st Street to the turn west on San Carlos
and the review stand. Quite a few arrests were made during the ruckus.
One Latino woman caused a lot of commotion by acting nuts. Then she fainted and,
I believe, was taken away by ambulance. Candelaria was very much involved in the
agitation, and at the end of the parade he was taken into custody for acting
very weird and being in a highly agitated state. Rather than jail, he was hauled
off to Agnews State Mental Hospital by Sgts. Bob Moir and Glenn Terry, who
managed to convince the MD on duty to admit him for a 72-hour hold and
Another thing I recall during those days was that the rank and file were upset
because the police administration had loaned Candelaria one of our hand-held
(As a side note, the old Motorola handpack was developed by a Motorola engineer
named Phil Crawford, who was from my neighborhood in the Manchester district of
Pittsburgh, and with whom I graduated from Oliver High School waaaaaay back in
Dick Tush, ID #1230
• • • • •
Ed. — We've had hundreds of folks join the
Farsider Family over the past six years, so this story about the turbulent
Candelaria days will be new to many. I wrote it as a reply to a Mail Call
missive from Ken Hawkes, who had written in to confirm the rumor that he had in
fact suffered a couple of strokes, but was doing well. His letter and my
response appeared in the May 4, 2006 Farsider. It's the second point of my reply
that illustrates the impact Sal Candelaria had on the SJPD. As in "what if..."
Thanks for the Farsider. Look forward to each edition. I look at the names and
remember stories involving so many of them. Some stories are better than others,
like when you were a rookie and I had to teach you to duck.
Anyway, the update: Had two strokes. One in the left brain, one in the area
between the Pons and Medulla. Right side numb and little control, no loss of
strength. Loss of taste, smell. Right eye wanders all over so have a Rooster
Cogburn eye patch. Worst part is unbelievable vertigo. Getting some control over
right side and walking without walker (geriatric in-line skates). Cane for
ambiance. Can now smell and taste a bit. Things really looking up. Have heard
from many old friends and have been trying to answer emails but type a record
number of mistakes per minute. Thank one and all for the kind thoughts...
(Bill, edit or just use the message for answering questions. The jokes are
between us. Phil Norton taught me years ago not to go out of my way to irritate
guys who buy their ink in 50 gallon drums!)
Ken Hawkes <<firstname.lastname@example.org>>
First, Ken, I'm sure I
speak for everyone when I say we are all greatly relieved that your condition
isn't more serious than it is. The most important thing is that you are still
with us, that you can communicate well, and that you haven't lost your sense of
humor. Regarding your comment about teaching me to duck, I've listened to tons
of other cops' stories over the past 38 years, it's time for two of my own:
When I left the S/O and came to the PD in Sept. of 1970 there was no need to
send me to the academy since I already had a POST certificate. Instead, the
powers to be felt that I'd be ready for my own beat after riding along with you
for a week. A couple of incidents from that short period in my life left an
indelible imprint on what's left of my brain.
1) It's my 2nd day as a San Jose cop and I'm riding shotgun in a flea-ridden
Plymouth K-9 wagon, but with no pooch in the back. Ken is behind the wheel. It's
close to midnight on a Friday night. We're working B-7A in East San Jose, which
includes N. Jackson, an area that is particularly hostile to police. The green
channel is buzzing with radio traffic. Most units have assignments. Ken tells me
that single units never go into N. Jackson alone because of the residents'
hostility to police, and because the street dead ends at an orchard. In other
words, the only way out is the way you came in. Furthermore, if there are any
disturbance calls on N. Jackson, multiple units are to gather at a holding quad
prior to entering the area. Next thing I hear is Ken saying, "It looks pretty
calm right now, let's go in and I'll show you what it's like." I can feel
hundreds of eyes on us as we crawl down N. Jackson, all the way to the orchard
at the end.
As we begin to turn around, we see that a crowd has gathered down the street
behind us and is blocking our exit. When I hear Ken mutter a profanity, the
pucker factor immediately sets in. Next thing I know I'm bouncing up and down in
the passenger seat and my head is banging off the ceiling of the Plymouth as we
careen through the furrowed orchard and dodge trees to make good our escape.
We eventually made it back onto a safe surface street, but there were moments
from that incident when I wasn't sure I had made the right decision of
exchanging my deputy's costume for the blue serge uniform of the SJPD. While it
didn't come to pass, I recall thinking that if the pucker factor became too
severe, the dark blue SJPD uniform pants would be less prone to show wetness
than the green wool trousers worn by deputies. Whatever the case, that was my
second day on the job.
2) It's a few nights later and Ken and I are working B-7A again. It's around
1:00 in the morning. I'm riding shotgun again when Ken decides to make a car
stop on a Pontiac Tempest on 15th St. The reds on our roof and the spinner light
up, but the car continues for a block or two before it slowly comes to a stop.
The spotlights on our patrol car car illuminate four occupants.
[Sidebar: In 1970 there was an "us vs. them" attitude between the police and an
East Side militant group led by Sal Candelaria. All patrol personnel —
especially those working Swing and Mids — exercised extreme caution while on
patrol. For some officers, that caution came close to reaching a stage of
paranoia. The SJPD, after all, still was in shock from the recent assassination
of Officer Richard Huerta a month earlier.]
Ken and I get out of our patrol car. The four occupants of the Tempest remain
seated in the Pontiac. All of a sudden, a citizen walking a dog passes by and
tells Ken in a soft voice that there are guys at the end of the block armed with
rifles. I wasn't in position, however, to hear what the dog walker told Ken. If
I had heard him, I probably would have immediately determined whether my theory
about dark blue pants masking wetness was true or not.
With the occupants of the Pontiac still seated inside the car, Ken gets on the
radio and requests a code 3 fill. He then tells me what the dog walker said and
suggested I look for some cover. Here comes the pucker factor again, accompanied
by sirens off in the distance. Meanwhile, Ken slowly but deliberately walks over
to the sidewalk and positions himself so that it appears he has become part of a
telephone pole. Like a lost little puppy dog, I follow. Moments later I'm
standing so close to my 6-foot-6-inch partner that a passerby might suggest we
"get a room." When Ken senses my presence, he turns around, looks down at me and
says, "Go find your own $#%&#' pole!"
Shocked at my "partner's" response, I look up the street and see that the next
pole is 200 feet away. I look down the street and am not surprised to see that
the next pole in that direction is also 200 feet away. There's one directly
across the street, but there's no way I'm going to cross what I see as "no man's
land." As far as I'm concerned, the street might as well have been mined.
My head is spinning. Where the hell do I go? Guys with rifles down the street?
Which way? "Stay cool" I tell myself. The pucker factor is now a rock solid 10.
If a practical joker had set off a lady finger at this point, wet pants would
have been the least of my concern.
The next thing I'm aware of is the sound of multiple sirens and the arrival of
the cavalry. Eventually, the pucker factor begins to subside as other uniform
cops are now on the scene. The Pontiac has been surrounded, and units are up and
down the block looking for the "guys with rifles." If there were some, they had
It took a few minutes to sort things out, but eventually the occupants of the
Pontiac were safely removed from the vehicle, including one by the name of Sal
Candelaria. When a search of the car turned up one of the Police Department's
handpack radios in the back seat, every cop on the scene knew we had a major
league problem on our hands since the radio could be used not only to track
police units throughout the city, it could also be used to transmit on the
police frequencies. The big question was, how did Candelaria get his hands on
one of our radios?
Long story short, the radio was one of two handpacks that had been given to the
Community Alert Patrol (CAP) led by Candelaria by the SJPD administration as a
"sign of trust." Perhaps someone in the police administration felt that
"reaching out" to the militant group might possibly diffuse the tension. Who
knows what the thinking was? These were turbulent times, after all. As a deputy
I had stood beside my brother deputies and other Bay Area law enforcement agency
riot squads at various college campuses in an effort to quell the anti-war
protests by students. Indeed, madness was part and parcel to the late '60s and
Even though it was now about 2 a.m. in the morning, then-POA President Phil
Norton was awoken from a sound sleep at his residence and given the news about
the found radio. A short time later, Ken and I — along with a half-dozen other
uniformed cops — were standing inside Phil's residence.
I had never met the POA President. I was just a green rookie, despite my time at
the S/O. I'd been on the job for three days. No one was telling me anything. No
one was even speaking to me. I was invisible.
How I ended up standing next to Phil Norton who was clad in a bath robe while he
was on the phone yelling and screaming I have no idea. But when I heard him call
the person on the other end of the line "Chief," things began to become
semi-clear, and the pucker factor began to set in again for the third time in as
many days. I'm on probation, after all, and can be fired without cause. How
could I have gotten myself in this jam? Surely my name is going to end up in a
police report. Maybe even the newspaper if this is as big a deal as it appears
to be. Trying to get a grip, I told myself the only thing I had going for me at
this point was that I hadn't yet discarded my S/O uniforms. Will the Sheriff
take me back?
Somehow, during my first three days as a San Jose cop, I managed to survive the
drive-thru on N. Jackson and subsequent escape through the orchard, the "guys
with rifles" on N. 15th St., and the wayward handpack radio that ultimately
resulted in the retirement of the second longest reigning Police Chief in the
history of the SJPD. Either I was lucky, or my survival was a result of what I
learned in school back in the '50s. Remember those "duck and cover" drills?
* * * *
Alan West has long been my pick to run for higher office. He has been
incredible in every public speech or congressional oration he has given. With
his D-I-R-E-C-T, cut-to-the-chase and inarguably logical deliveries, he should
have been in the Presidential race this cycle!
Other thought: I still have several personal Sal Candelaria mementos from my old
days on swing B-3 during the 1970-73 era, following my original B-18 stint. What
a derelict. Back then, it was all so "big," so "ominous" and large-scale
"combat-provoking" to me. Given another 30-years of experiences, I came to view
him as the insignificant zit on society that he actually was.
Fair Winds, Following Seas.
God Speed & Semper Fidelis
There seems to be little doubt that people like
West and Rubio have energized many conservatives. If the GOP has a problem, it's
that the party itself is divided into two sub-parties comprised of far-right
conservatives and moderate conservatives. There are times when they can be their
own worse enemies as we saw in the recent primary.
TIME TO SET A DATE
ASIDE FOR THE ANNUAL BOBBY BURROUGHS MEMORIAL BBQ IN FOLSOM
Announcing the Association's
8th Annual Bobby Burroughs
Folsom BBQ for Members
Click Here to Sign Up for the Folsom BBQ
(The link is near the top of the page)
Lew Howard Memorial Park
7100 Baldwin Dam Rd.
Folsom, CA 95630
Date and Time:
Saturday, May 21, 2011
11:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Lunch at 12:00 PM
Meeting right after lunch
Tri-Tip or Chicken
Please make your selection when signing up.
Cost: $5 per person
From I-80 in Roseville" Take
I-80 to Douglas Blvd., east on Douglas Blvd. Go approximately 5.1 miles to
Folsom Auburn Blvd. Turn right and go 4.1 miles to Oak Ave. in Folsom (there is
a McDonald's fast food on the corner). Turn right on Oak Ave. and go
approximately 0.4 miles (the road ends). Turn right on Baldwin Dam Rd. You will
see the Lew Howard Memorial Park Arch. Go under the Arch and drive to the top of
the hill where the picnic grounds are (approximately 0.3 miles) and you have
From I-50 in Folsom: Take I-50 to Folsom Rd. Exit. Take Folsom Rd. 2.4 miles and
cross the American River Bridge. At this time the road name changes to Folsom
Auburn Blvd. Continue 0.8 miles to Oak Ave. You will see a McDonald's fast food
restaurant on the left corner. Turn left on Oak Ave. and go approximately 0.4
miles to Baldwin Dam Rd. Turn right and you will see the Lew Howard Memorial
Park Arch. Drive straight through to the top of the hill and you have arrived.
Important: We will need a count of Retirees and Spouses who will be
attending the BBQ by May 9, 2012.
Mike Moffett, Director
IT'S THAT TIME
OF THE YEAR AGAIN
All Law Enforcement Officers and Police Personnel
The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics
Thursday, June 14th, 2012 run times: 0900 to1330 hrs
Starting points (approx. 2 mile legs) will be assigned along the
Torch Run route between Morgan Hill and Santa Clara.
Marked escort and support vehicles will be provided.
To raise money and awareness for Special Olympics athletes and programs.
The goal is for each officer/police personnel who runs to raise
at least $100 in sponsorship donations for Special Olympics.
Sgt. Phil Rodgers, San Jose P.D. (retired)
Cell # 408-529-1723, or e-mail:
To make a
donation or register and join our team, please go to:
Checks accepted! Make checks to: Northern California Special Olympics.
IS IT TIME TO PACK
OUR BAGS AND MOVE OUT OF CALIFORNIA?
Damn Bill Leavy for sending
me this article. I was perfectly happy sucking up a scotch-and-water while
wallowing in indifference about what's happening to our so-called "Golden State"
when a chime alerted me to the arrival of his email that included the following
Wall Street Journal Op/Ed piece...
Joel Kotkin: The Great
U.S. demographer and 'Truman Democrat' talks about what is driving the middle
class out of the Golden State—
Wall Street Journal Op/Ed — April 20, 2012
'California is God's best moment," says Joel Kotkin.
"It's the best place in the world to live." Or at least it used to be.
Mr. Kotkin, one of the nation's premier demographers, left his native New York
City in 1971 to enroll at the University of California, Berkeley. The state was
a far-out paradise for hipsters who had grown up listening to the Mamas & the
Papas' iconic "California Dreamin'" and the Beach Boys' "California Girls." But
it also attracted young, ambitious people "who had a lot of dreams, wanted to
build big companies." Think Intel, Apple and Hewlett-Packard.
Now, however, the Golden State's fastest-growing entity is government and its
biggest product is red tape. The first thing that comes to many American minds
when you mention California isn't Hollywood or tanned girls on a beach, but
Greece. Many progressives in California take that as a compliment since Greeks
are ostensibly happier. But as Mr. Kotkin notes, Californians are increasingly
pursuing happiness elsewhere.
Nearly four million more people have left the Golden State in the last two
decades than have come from other states. This is a sharp reversal from the
1980s, when 100,000 more Americans were settling in California each year than
were leaving. According to Mr. Kotkin, most of those leaving are between the
ages of 5 and 14 or 34 to 45. In other words, young families.
The scruffy-looking urban studies professor at Chapman University in Orange,
Calif., has been studying and writing on demographic and geographic trends for
30 years. Part of California's dysfunction, he says, stems from state and local
government restrictions on development. These policies have artificially limited
housing supply and put a premium on real estate in coastal regions.
"Basically, if you don't own a piece of Facebook or Google and you haven't
robbed a bank and don't have rich parents, then your chances of being able to
buy a house or raise a family in the Bay Area or in most of coastal California
is pretty weak," says Mr. Kotkin.
While many middle-class families have moved inland, those regions don't have the
same allure or amenities as the coast. People might as well move to Nevada or
Texas, where housing and everything else is cheaper and there's no income tax.
And things will only get worse in the coming years as Democratic Gov. Jerry
Brown and his green cadre implement their "smart growth" plans to cram the
proletariat into high-density housing. "What I find reprehensible beyond belief
is that the people pushing [high-density housing] themselves live in
single-family homes and often drive very fancy cars, but want everyone else to
live like my grandmother did in Brownsville in Brooklyn in the 1920s," Mr.
"The new regime"—his name for progressive apparatchiks who run California's
government—"wants to destroy the essential reason why people move to California
in order to protect their own lifestyles."
Housing is merely one front of what he calls the "progressive war on the middle
class." Another is the cap-and-trade law AB32, which will raise the cost of
energy and drive out manufacturing jobs without making even a dent in global
carbon emissions. Then there are the renewable portfolio standards, which
mandate that a third of the state's energy come from renewable sources like wind
and the sun by 2020. California's electricity prices are already 50% higher than
the national average.
Oh, and don't forget the $100 billion bullet train. Mr. Kotkin calls the
runaway-cost train "classic California." "Where [Brown] with the state going
bankrupt is even thinking about an expenditure like this is beyond
comprehension. When the schools are falling apart, when the roads are falling
apart, the bridges are unsafe, the state economy is in free fall. We're still
doing much worse than the rest of the country, we've got this growing permanent
welfare class, and high-speed rail is going to solve this?"
Mr. Kotkin describes himself as an old-fashioned Truman Democrat. In fact, he
voted for Mr. Brown—who previously served as governor, secretary of state and
attorney general—because he believed Mr. Brown "was interesting and thought
outside the box."
But "Jerry's been a big disappointment," Mr. Kotkin says. "I've known Jerry for
35 years, and he's smart, but he just can't seem to be a paradigm breaker. And
of course, it's because he really believes in this green stuff."
In the governor's dreams, green jobs will replace all of the "tangible jobs"
that the state's losing in agriculture, manufacturing, warehousing and
construction. But "green energy doesn't create enough energy!" Mr. Kotkin
exclaims. "And it drives up the price of energy, which then drives out other
things." Notwithstanding all of the subsidies the state lavishes on renewables,
green jobs only make up about 2% of California's private-sector work force—no
more than they do in Texas.
Of course, there are plenty of jobs to be had in energy, just not the type the
new California regime wants. An estimated 25 billion barrels of oil are sitting
untapped in the vast Monterey and Bakersfield shale deposits. "You see the great
tragedy of California is that we have all this oil and gas, we won't use it,"
Mr. Kotkin says. "We have the richest farm land in the world, and we're trying
to strangle it." He's referring to how water restrictions aimed at protecting
the delta smelt fish are endangering Central Valley farmers.
Meanwhile, taxes are harming the private economy. According to the Tax
Foundation, California has the 48th-worst business tax climate. Its income tax
is steeply progressive. Millionaires pay a top rate of 10.3%, the third-highest
in the country. But middle-class workers—those who earn more than $48,000—pay a
top rate of 9.3%, which is higher than what millionaires pay in 47 states.
And Democrats want to raise taxes even more. Mind you, the November ballot
initiative that Mr. Brown is spearheading would primarily hit those whom
Democrats call "millionaires" (i.e., people who make more than $250,000 a year).
Some Republicans have warned that it will cause a millionaire march out of the
state, but Mr. Kotkin says that "people who are at the very high end of the food
chain, they're still going to be in Napa. They're still going to be in Silicon
Valley. They're still going to be in West L.A."
That said, "It's really going to hit the small business owners and the young
family that's trying to accumulate enough to raise a family, maybe send their
kids to private school. It'll kick them in the teeth."
A worker in Wichita might not consider those earning $250,000 a year middle
class, but "if you're a guy working for a Silicon Valley company and you're
married and you're thinking about having your first kid, and your family makes
250-k a year, you can't buy a closet in the Bay Area," Mr. Kotkin says. "But for
250-k a year, you can live pretty damn well in Salt Lake City. And you might be
able to send your kids to public schools and own a three-bedroom, four-bath
According to Mr. Kotkin, these upwardly mobile families are fleeing in droves.
As a result, California is turning into a two-and-a-half-class society. On top
are the "entrenched incumbents" who inherited their wealth or came to California
early and made their money. Then there's a shrunken middle class of public
employees and, miles below, a permanent welfare class. As it stands today, about
40% of Californians don't pay any income tax and a quarter are on Medicaid.
It's "a very scary political dynamic," he says. "One day somebody's going to put
on the ballot, let's take every penny over $100,000 a year, and you'll get it
through because there's no real restraint. What you've done by exempting people
from paying taxes is that they feel no responsibility. That's certainly a big
part of it.
And the welfare recipients, he emphasizes, "aren't leaving. Why would they? They
get much better benefits in California or New York than if they go to Texas. In
Texas the expectation is that people work."
California used to be more like Texas—a jobs magnet. What happened? For one,
says the demographer, Californians are now voting more based on social issues
and less on fiscal ones than they did when Ronald Reagan was governor 40 years
ago. Environmentalists are also more powerful than they used to be. And Mr.
Brown facilitated the public-union takeover of the statehouse by allowing state
workers to collectively bargain during his first stint as governor in 1977.
Mr. Kotkin also notes that demographic changes are playing a role. As
progressive policies drive out moderate and conservative members of the middle
class, California's politics become even more left-wing. It's a classic case of
natural selection, and increasingly the only ones fit to survive in California
are the very rich and those who rely on government spending. In a nutshell, "the
state is run for the very rich, the very poor, and the public employees."
So if California's no longer the Golden land of opportunity for middle-class
dreamers, what is?
Mr. Kotkin lists four "growth corridors": the Gulf Coast, the Great Plains, the
Intermountain West, and the Southeast. All of these regions have lower costs of
living, lower taxes, relatively relaxed regulatory environments, and critical
natural resources such as oil and natural gas.
Take Salt Lake City. "Almost all of the major tech companies have moved stuff to
Salt Lake City." That includes Twitter, Adobe, eBay and Oracle.
Then there's Texas, which is on a mission to steal California's tech hegemony.
Apple just announced that it's building a $304 million campus and adding 3,600
jobs in Austin. Facebook established operations there last year, and eBay plans
to add 1,000 new jobs there too.
Even Hollywood is doing more of its filming on the Gulf Coast. "New Orleans is
supposedly going to pass New York as the second-largest film center. They have
great incentives, and New Orleans is the best bargain for urban living in the
United States. It's got great food, great music, and it's inexpensive."
What about the Midwest and the Rust Belt? Can they recover from their
"What those areas have is they've got a good work ethic," Mr. Kotkin says.
"There's an established skill base for industry. They're very affordable, and
they've got some nice places to live. Indianapolis has become a very nice city."
He concedes that such places will have a hard time eclipsing California or Texas
because they're not as well endowed by nature. But as the Golden State is
proving, natural endowments do not guarantee permanent prosperity.
~ ~ ~
Ms. Finley is the assistant
<OpinionJournal.com> and a Journal
editorial page writer.
WEEKLY SNOPES URBAN
LEGEND UPDATE AS OF APRIL 21, 2012
The facts behind the legends, information and
misinformation that has or may show up in your inbox
• Did lawyers representing Barack Obama admit that his birth certificate is a
• Has singer Justin Bieber been stabbed by a crazed fan?
• Movie poster advertises an upcoming film biography of Walt Disney?
• Did Mitt Romney say he 'can relate to black people' because his ancestors
once owned slaves?
• Account reports instances of customers being cheated by malfunctioning gas
• Did Barack Obama remove the U.S. flag from the tail of Air Force One and
replace it with his own logo?
• An Austrian town bears an unusual -- and unprintable -- name.
• Did the word "blackmail" originate as a reference to letters of extortion
sent by mail?
• Do invitations sent from the RockMelt browser harbor viruses?
• An irritating cell phone user is summoned back to bed by another woman
during a call to his wife.
• Photograph purportedly shows a can containing a decidedly unappetizing
• Don't forget to visit our Daily Snopes page for a collection of odd news
stories from around the world!
Worth a Second Look
• Did Burma-Shave once promise to send a contest winner to Mars?
Still Haunting the Inbox
• Check out our 25 Hottest Urban Legends list to keep abreast of what's
circulating in the on-line world.
• Visit our Top Scams page for a list of schemes
commonly used by crooks to separate the unwary from their money.
THE LIGHTER SIDE &
OTHER ODDS AND ENDS
If you haven't already
done so, remember to click on the "Large Player" icon on the YouTube control
panel in the lower right-hand corner of the video when you watch the first clip.
If you do, all other YouTube videos should default to the same setting
throughout the rest of your session at the computer. If your Internet connection
is fast enough, you can click on the Full Screen icon instead.
• • • • •
This clip from Bob Kosovilka isn't political in nature because
Sen. Barbara Boxer has four more years in the Senate. But it is funny if you
remember when the Senator took umbrage to being called "Ma'am" during a
congressional hearing. The parody was made by David Zucker who produced
"Airplane," "The Naked Gun" and several other movie spoofs.
• • • • •
When we received from Gary
Leonard a link to an article with the headline reading that Marines in
Afghanistan were ordered not to audibly break wind, I thought it was a joke.
Gary noted that he hadn't vetted the story, so I did. The links below — and
there are several others you can find using Google — confirm the story. For
those of you familiar with the history of the Corps, ask yourself this question:
What would Chesty Puller say if he was alive today? As it is, he's probably
turning cartwheels in his grave...
• • • • •
Gary also found
this clip interesting. It's an accessory for a table saw that will stop
immediately if your finger gets in the way of the spinning blade. For you
woodworkers, it will no doubt cause damage to your table saw, but you will still
be able to pick your nose or give someone the one-finger salute.
• • • • •
Sharon Lansdowne sent us a
link to the Neosho Daily News E-edition in Neosho, Missouri and an interesting
and articulate article authored by Alberta Anders. If you were around the SJPD
during Alberta's days you will likely find her essay of interest...
• • • • •
Here's a 2-year-old,
39-pound house cat that's in need of a good home, at least it was a few days
ago. The math says if it was a man it would weigh 600 pounds.
And here's evidence that if
you are a tubby tabby and sufficiently big, you can be a guest on a national TV
program like the "Today Show." (1 Min.)
• • • • •
What could possibly be more
fun than spending the afternoon duck hunting with your paintball rifle and your
redneck buddies? (1 Min.)
• • • • •
Imagine you are walking
through a parking lot when you see a nun carrying a huge box. Would you
volunteer to help? (1 Min)
• • • • •
If you like happy endings you will likely enjoy
this story about the Curtain Rods we received from David Byers. At least some of
you guys should...
On the first day, he sadly packed his belongings into boxes, crates and
On the second day, he had the movers come and collect his things.
On the third day, he sat down for the last time at their beautiful dining room
table. By candle light, he put on some soft background music and feasted on a
pound of shrimp, a jar of caviar, and a bottle of springwater.
When he'd finished, he went into each and every room and deposited a few
half-eaten shrimps dipped in caviar into the hollow center of the curtain rods.
He then cleaned up the kitchen and left.
On the fourth day, the wife came back with her new boyfriend, and at first all
Then, slowly, the house began to smell.
They tried everything; cleaning, mopping, and airing-out the place.
Vents were checked for dead rodents, and carpets were steam cleaned.
Air fresheners were hung everywhere. Exterminators were brought in to set off
gas canisters, during which time the two had to move out for a few days. In the
end they even paid to replace the expensive wool carpeting. Nothing worked.
People stopped coming over to visit.
Repairmen refused to work in the house. The maid quit.
Finally, they couldn't take the stench any longer and decided they had to move.
But a month later — even though they'd cut the price in half — they couldn't
find a buyer for such a stinky house.
Word got out, and eventually even the local realtors refused to return their
Finally, unable to wait any longer for a purchaser, they had to borrow a huge
sum of money from the bank to purchase a new place.
Then the ex-husband called the woman and asked how things were going. She told
him the saga of the rotting house. He listened politely and said that he missed
his old home terribly and would be willing to reduce his divorce settlement in
exchange for having the house.
Knowing he could have no idea how bad the smell really was, she agreed on a
price that was only one-tenth of what the house had been worth — but only if he
would sign the papers that very day.
He agreed, and within two hours her lawyers delivered the completed paperwork.
A week later the woman and her boyfriend stood smiling as they watched the
moving company pack everything to take to their new home. And to spite the
ex-husband, they even took the curtain rods!
• • • • •
This Russian isn't the
smoothest salesman around, but he does a decent job of demonstrating his
Quadrotor armed with a fixed machine gun. The photo below is a basic Quadrotor
that anyone can buy and fly for a few hundred dollars using an iPhone, iPod
Touch, iPad and several other devices.
And this is the armed
Quadrotor clip sent in by Gary Leonard. To see what it's capable of, watch the
video by clicking on the link below. (5 Mins.)
• • • • •
And finally, if you are a
Betty White fan you may want to watch this clip of her opening last year's 39th
AFI (American Film Institute) Life Achievement Awards show honoring Morgan
Freeman. And if your Internet connection is fast enough, you may also want to
click on the Full Screen icon as soon as the clip starts.
• • • • •
Thanks for joining us.
Pic of the Week:
reminder and suggestion from Baci for you over-60 guys...
A guy was
working out in the gym when he
spotted this lovely young lady...
He asked the trainer who was nearby,
"What machine should I use to impress
that lovely young princess over there?"
The trainer looked at him and said,
"Try the ATM in the lobby."
|This is the message box, using the