Media lefties divine pension truths. Next up: Expose how Dem pols define ‘social justice’

For a sharp and historically informed analysis of the pension follies of state Democratic lawmakers, no one is going to top Jerry Roberts’ and Phil Trounstine’s piece on Calbuzz.

Let’s be blunt. Democrats, whose political livelihoods have steadily and increasingly become dependent on union money since Jerry Brown in his first term signed the legislation that gave state employees collective bargaining rights, are terrified of moving an inch on pensions without permission and marching orders from the labor groups that finance their campaigns.

Stanford studies showing no correlation between spending, school quality hijacked again

The fifth anniversary of the massive Stanford-led studies of California public schools is upon us, and once again, the special interests are characterizing the report as focusing on a lack of resources. Unlike the reporters who are now writing about “Getting Down to Facts,” I actually read about a thousand pages of the reports. And as I wrote back in 2007, buried in all the multiple studies, here is the lead: A review of all California school districts shows “essentially no relationship between spending and student outcomes” and that spending more is futile until “extensive and systemic reforms” are in place. In other words, the problem is much more about the stupid way money is spent than the lack of money.

Groan: Jerry says GOPers who share public opposition to higher taxes are ‘cultists’

From 2001-2009, many people on the left and more than a few on the right and in libertarian circles warmed to the argument that one reason George W. Bush was such a disappointing president was because he lived in a bubble, surrounded by yes men. When is the rest of California going to figure out that almost all of Sacramento is in a bubble? Exit polls after the May 19, 2009, special election showed Dems, Republicans and independents alike hated the higher taxes pushed by the Sacramento media-political establishment. Yet inside the Sacramento bubble, the columnist for the most influential newspaper writes that it is “hard to find anyone” who doesn’t think tax hikes should now be shoved down voters’ throats. And the governor whose own tax hike power play would callously put schools at risk unless income and sales taxes are increased by a November ballot measure goes on national TV to suggest that only Republican “cult” members are opposed. Yo, George Skelton! Yo, Jerry Brown! Who says the public is on your side?

Left’s equivalent of ‘birthers’: Those who doubt surveys showing state is hostile to business

Several times a year, reports evaluating the 50 states come out that consistently rate California near the bottom when it comes to business-friendliness, whereupon defenders of the status quo say, well, what do you expect from right-wing groups who don’t like the politics of the Golden State? The same scenario played out recently, when Gil Duran, Jerry Brown’s spokesman, dismissed a report by the Tax Foundation that ranked California 48th out of 50 states: “This is a partisan group funded by conservative foundations and its assertions must be taken with a grain of salt.” Groan. In a key way, this reflects the same stupidity of the birthers who insist that Barack Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii in August 1961 even if there was a birth announcement in the local papers just after it happened. Why? Because it requires a belief in truly idiotic conspiracy theories.

Q: What best describes Dem lawmakers’ pay lawsuit? A) dumb B) doltish C) despicable D) all of the above

I have never enjoyed reading a Capitol Alert more that Tuesday’s item about Darrell Steinberg and John Perez suing to prevent the state controller’s office from being able to make state lawmakers honor the clear intent of Proposition 25 and forfeit pay if they could pass a budget on a simple majority vote but didn’t do so by June 15. Why do I enjoy it so? Because it blows the lid off the phony media narrative that the Republicans in the Legislature are the bad guys for not agreeing to raise taxes to fund a broken status quo. This story shows the true bad guys are the ones in charge — the ones who hold taxpayers in contempt and whose main job is to serve as tax collectors for the union state, enablers of trial lawyers and enforcers for the green cultists in the Bay Area and West L.A.

CalPERS posts mediocre 1.1% return. Safe prediction: The annual bonuses won’t be mediocre.

The news that the alleged geniuses who run CalPERS had a poor investment record in 2011 drew a strikingly tone-deaf response from master Dem spinner Steve Maviglio, who Tweeted, “@CalPERS +1.1% in 2011. How’d your 40lk (or should I say, 201k) do (minus expenses to Wall St.)?” Boy, Steve, in an era where local govs across the state are threatened by insolvency because of pension costs, that’s really reassuring. Maviglio is playing with fire here — because the more one looks at CalPERS, the more it looks like a corrupt institution. No, I’m not talking about the fact that it’s now involved in a pay-to-play corruption scandal involving former top executives. I’m talking about how whether returns are good or bad, CalPERS showers its workers with bonuses — self-dealing of the most obvious sort. If this is legal, it shouldn’t be.

11% unemployment? So what? In California, it’s anti-business as usual

California’s unemployment rate has been 11 percent or higher for nearly two-and-a-half years, by far the worst extended jobless crisis since before World War II. This prompts Jerry Brown, Darrell Steinberg and John Perez to pretend to care about helping the private sector. But the truth is that in California, it’s business — or, more precisely, anti-business — as usual. This was made plain by two articles over the holiday weekend, one about the state’s eagerness to micro-regulate businesses and one about how trial lawyers legally extort money out of companies by using laws ostensibly written to protect consumers but actually written to allow trial lawyers to act like remoras.

Skelton’s new low! ‘Hard to find anyone’ who doesn’t think tax hikes should be shoved down voters’ throats! LOL!

In fall 1972, legendary New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael expressed amazement after reading that Richard Nixon was a heavy favorite for re-election. Why? Because she didn’t know anyone in her Manhattan circles who was voting for the president. In his Monday column, the L.A. Times’ George Skelton exposed his Kael-style bubble for all the world to see, and in so doing confirmed what I’ve been writing for years: Sacramento’s Democrats and the Sacramento media establishment generally believe the exact same things. So much for any hope we’ll get honest, neutral coverage of state government.

Pension debate: Bill Lockyer joins Team Maviglio, abandons credibility, past reputation

NOTE, 1 p.m.: Lockyer aide’s response is now posted at the end of this item. So Stanford professor Joe Nation — a former state lawmaker with impeccable liberal credentials — and Stanford researchers put out a report that looks at the unfunded liabilities for the state’s three-largest pension agencies — CalPERS, CalSTRS and the University of California Retirement Plan. So the Stanford team uses slightly less rosy scenarios on future returns than the pension agencies and comes up with an estimate of nearly $300 billion in underfunding. Then it uses a more conservative, safer estimate of future returns that puts the unfunded liability at $498 billion. This sort of analysis is prudent, given that CalPERS, CalSTRS and UC pension officials have proven they can’t be trusted. So how does state Treasurer Bill Lockyer respond? By quitting the Stanford research team’s advisory board in a huff. Yo, Bill, that’s so Maviglian. Yo, BIll, that’s so 2008. Yo, Bill, how is it helpful to pretend the pension tsunami’s not real?

United Teachers Los Angeles: If this is social justice, social justice is garbage

As I noted a couple of weeks ago in describing how a “social justice” exercise in Oakland was devastating the middle class, groups on the left like to use their claim to stand for social justice to justify outrageous or self-serving power plays. The worst offenders of all are the teacher unions. So with Los Angeles Unified desperate for concessions on compensation, what did United Teachers Los Angeles set as a precondition? Killing the most promising education reform projects in all of LAUSD: