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The Bear Flag

[3/31/06 Friday]

[Nick Winter-administrative editor] 12:14 am [permalink]
Good riddance Now that Reiner is gone, let's fix First 5 [from the San Diego Union Tribune] The news that actor-director-activist Rob Reiner has finally resigned as chairman of the First 5 commission couldn't be more welcome.

However one feels about children's causes, Reiner's role in First 5's decision to use $23 million in taxpayer funds to pay for "preschool for all TV ads as he gathered signatures for his "preschool for all initiative is indefensible. That Reiner depicted the criticism coming his way as being entirely politically motivated is a contemptible insult to the taxpayers who paid for his scam.

Unfortunately, Reiner's departure is unlikely to do anything to change the culture at First 5 [more at SD Union Tribune]

[3/30/06 Thursday]

[Bill Leonard, contributor, Member CA Board of Equalization] 12:03 am [permalink]
Voter Guide The Secretary of State has issued the Voter Guide that will be mailed to every voter for the June 2006 Primary election. You can see it now at:

I always read the ballot statements filed by candidates. They give good insight into the priorities of the candidate. I also find that these statements are one of the cheapest ways to communicate with voters and I appreciate candidates who take the time and spend the money to reach out to the voter. What is interesting is who agrees with me and makes this effort.

On the Republican side of the ballot Governor Schwarzenegger did not place a ballot statement but he really has no opposition this June. Senator Tom McClintock running unopposed for Lieutenant Governor did buy a statement slot to remind Republicans of his leadership and to offer voters his web site to find out more. The candidates for the nomination for Controller and Treasurer did submit ballot statements so that voters will learn more about Tony Strickland, Abel Maldonando, Claude Parrish and Keith Richman. Needless to say I put in a ballot statement, but my opponent did not.

It gets really interesting on the Democratic side as three candidate for governor got ballot statements but neither Phil Angelides nor Steve Westley who are battling head to head did so. Both their campaigns missed a wonderful opportunity to present themselves to Democratic voters. The main candidates for lieutenant governor, secretary of state, controller, treasurer, and insurance commissioner all paid the fee to get their statements in the voter guide. In another missed opportunity neither Jerry Brown nor Rocky Delgadillo running for attorney general reached out to voters in this way.

Those that missed this opportunity will have to make up for it in some other way and this will cost even more money. Let's check after the election to see how much difference these ballot statements did make. [Leonard Blog]

[3/29/06 Wednesday]

[Bill Leonard, contributor, Member CA Board of Equalization] 12:03 am [permalink]
Budget Pop Quiz Every year the Legislative Analyst's Office invites the Capitol press corps to take its budget quiz and offers a box of doughnuts to the reporter who gets the most correct answers. This year, no reporters even attempted to answer the questions. Perhaps that's because the LAO changed the prize from the traditional doughnuts to muffins and bagels. Or perhaps it's because even the reporters who cover the state cannot make heads nor tails of this stuff. Judge for yourself with the sample questions below. The answers are at the end of this post.

1. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) faces a statutory deadline of October 2006 to set up a new computer system so it can suspend the registration of vehicles when their owners fail to provide evidence to the state that they have auto insurance. Which of the following events has occurred during the development of this project?

a) In February 2005, DMV proposed to contract out the new computer system to a vendor.
b) In May 2005, DMV proposed instead to hire staff to carry out the project.
c) In July 2005, DMV changed its mind and again proposed to hire a vendor.
d) All of the above occurred and the project is unlikely to be completed by the October 2006 deadline.

2. The School Land Bank Fund is expected to have a $59 million balance at the end of 2006-07 that can be used to acquire property and earn lease revenues for the support of public education. How much has been spent for these activities in the last five years?

a) Nothing.
b) $12 million.
c) $114 million.
d) $256 million.

3. The budget proposed a new human resources initiative to assist state departments in coping with the expected retirement of up to 100,000 "baby boom" state employees during the next decade. The new initiative would be supported by a staff of how many state employees?

a) 100.
b) 25.
c) 8.
d) 1.

4. The state has budgeted more than $200 million to pay for emergency repairs at schools to address conditions that pose a threat to the health and safety of students or staff. Almost none of the money has been allocated to districts. What does the LAO identify as one of the reasons why?

a) School districts are reluctant to spend money on repairs because it is uncertain if the state will reimburse them for after-the-fact work.
b) Schools already had sufficient unspent bond funds available for these projects.
c) Continued litigation over the school repair issue has held up release of the funds.
d) Because of recent statewide school facility investments, only a limited number of school district have outstanding emergency repair needs.

Answers to the Budget Quiz
1) D 2) A 3) D 4) A

[3/28/06 Tuesday]

[Jim Kouri - columnist] - 12:05 am [permalink]
The Illegal Immigration Reform Scam This weekend, thousands of activists and illegal aliens have been rallying in Los Angeles to protest against plans to further criminalize so-called undocumented workers. The protest's main organizer Javier Rodriguez has ties to the radical left group MEchA, which believes Mexicans have a right to repopulate lands stolen from them by the United States.

The mainstream news media put a happy-face on the protest, which is part of a series of such events throughout the nation. While the news reporters talked about illegal workers who perform jobs Americans refuse to perform, they continue to avoid mentioning the tens of thousands of illegal immigrants who prey on men, women and children -- US citizens. It is these innocent Americans who are murdered, raped and robbed because of an insane immigration policy. Criminal aliens are entering the US in
the tens of thousands and remaining here as they join violent gangs such as MS-13, or they choose to commit their mayhem solo.

Meanwhile, a number of Americans are being intentionally confused by US lawmakers who are debating legislation that would reform immigration. The news media help in creating this confusion. Did you ever read about the fact that in the past 5 months the US Border Patrol has detained 42,000 illegals who were convicted criminals or persons wanted for crimes committed at our borders? Last year, the Homeland Security Department reported that 140,000 detainees apprehended at the border had criminal
records at the time of their arrest. These are the illegal being intercepted, what about the ones who get through?

One bill would set up a Guest Worker Program. Wow, now that will help to protect Americans. Another would make violation of immigration law a felony instead of a misdemeanor; and yet another would allow the governent to build a security fence on our southern border. In addition, we have politicians and immigration advocates lying about what's contained in these bills or using vitriolic language in their opposition to cracking down on illegal immigration.

One politician accused her opponents of trying to create a police state. Another threatened to filibuster tough illegal immigration laws. And the immigration activists fabricate what's actually contained in these bills, creating illusions of police officers dragging innocent immigrants from their homes and crowding them into jail cells. And that's mild compared to the rhetoric of leftist groups such as MEchA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan), who call anyone desiring tougher border
security and immigration enforcement "Right-wing racists."

The problem isn't about the need for new laws; the problem is about the lack of enforcement of existing laws. The US Constitution provides the executive branch with a number of inherent powers such as the enforcement of immigration laws.

The Constitution also mandates that the President protect American sovereignty and the American people. That is the number one priority for our government -- of it should be. And congress is mandated to provide domestic tranquility for Americans. Criminal alien gangbangers do not add to our domestic tranquility.

Why is it suddenly necessary for congress to pass laws on illegal immigration when we haven't been enforcing the laws that already exist. The executive branch has the power to add border agents, equipment and other resources. The President has the power to use the military if necessary to enhance border protection. Passing laws is an easy, painless process. The trick is to enforce those laws.

And why isn't the US government arresting illegal aliens while they are protesting in our city's streets all across the country? The protest organizers, are said to be sponsored by left-wing groups including Open Borders and MEChA, are protesting the border security bill that passed the US House of Representatives in December and is still awaiting passage by the US Senate.

The University of Texas at El Paso recently conducted a study that found the following: Treating illegal immigrants in hospitals accounts for nearly one quarter of the uncompensated costs at border county hospitals in Cochise County. That county in Arizona spends tens of thousands of dollars just picking up trash left at campsites by these illegals. Prosecuting and jailing illegals costs this county an additional $5 million a year. And 25 percent of Cochise County's budget is paid for health care for the uninsured, the majority of whom are illegally in the country.

In another study of a sample group of 55,000 criminal aliens, it was discovered they accounted for over 400,000 arrests and more than 700,000 criminal acts including felonies. In Los Angeles, the city that's hosting the protest -- which was whole-heartedly endorsed by its mayor -- 95% of the outstanding arrest warrants for homicides are for illegal aliens and 65% of all felony warrants are for so-called undocumented immigrants. Are they committing the crimes Americans won't commit?

[3/27/06 Monday]

[Found in the ebag-from PLF] 12:01 am [permalink]
California Officials Seek To Revive Reckless Bond Scheme That PLF Defeated:
Late last year, Pacific Legal Foundation scored a major win for fiscal responsibility when it persuaded a judge to strike down a dubious borrowing ploy to pay for government pensions in California. The $500 million-plus in "pension obligation bonds" were illegal, PLF successfully argued, because they hadn't been submitted to California voters as required by the state Constitution.

But state officials haven't given up trying to sell these "no vote" bonds. This month they are preparing an appeal of PLF's courtroom victory, to be filed with the California Third District Court of Appeal. So PLF will have to stay in this fight, battling all the way up the appellate ladder--perhaps, ultimately, to the state Supreme Court--in defense of fiscal prudence, voters' rights, and constitutional integrity.

The "pension obligation bonds" would saddle future generations with the burden of paying a single year's--2006's--state pension costs. Because the state must make a contribution to the pension system every year, incurring a 20-year debt to pay for one year's contribution is as reckless as a homeowner taking out a long-term bank loan to make a single mortgage payment.

The case also highlights the spiraling cost of public pensions in California. The state's annual payment to the Public Employee Retirement System has ballooned from about $160 million five years ago to more than $2.6 billion last year.

"The whole purpose behind the Constitution's requirement for voter approval of state debt is to keep politicians from paying for ordinary operating expenses with long-term borrowing," said PLF attorney Harold Johnson. "The pension bonds represent just such an irresponsible use of the borrowing power."

PLF's client in challenging the pension bonds is the Fullerton Association of Concerned Taxpayers (FACT). FACT President Thomas Babcock said it's essential to fight the state's effort to revive the bond scheme that PLF defeated: "California lawmakers need to be taught once and for all that they can't get away with borrowing billions on the backs of our children because they lack the fiscal discipline to live within their means."

Read commentary on PLF's victory over the pension bonds from the Reason Foundation, The Orange County Register, and The Sacramento Bee.

[3/24/06 Friday]

[Wayne Lusvardi contributor] 12:03 am [permalink]
Behind the Media Curtain of the Eminent Domain Game Eminent domain is a co-production of media and government - In Pasadena, California the city uses eminent domain only for politically correct projects, such as its Fair Oaks-Orange Grove shopping center developed by a well-known minority political power broker in the Democratic Party, but not for car dealers such as the Rusnak Mercedes-Benz auto dealership which moved to the nearby City of Arcadia. Arcadia is more receptive to using eminent domain for the Rusnak dealership to the consternation of some who are urging the signing of a petition at the well-known 1950’s diner Rod's Grill, one of the properties to be taken by eminent domain (see here)

The so-called affordable housing crisis in Pasadena may eventually see the city again use its politically correct version of eminent domain to acquire a site for a housing project. Look for such a project to target political constituencies for the Democratic Party such as unionized public employees, Cal-Tech instructors, even NASA-Jet Propulsion Lab employees, much like this project in Prince William Sound which is dedicated for firefighters, policemen, and teachers (see here). Contrary to the media spin put forth in the local Pasadena newspapers, the affordable housing crisis in Pasadena has been principally caused by the inflation of apartment rents by the City's Inclusionary Housing Law and by allowing illegal migrants who now constitute about one-third of the City’s population to double up in housing, both of which greatly inflate apartment rents.

"Affordable housing" is just an official term for well-disguised subsidized housing for favored political constituencies, often selectively paid for by landowners rather than all taxpayers (see here: “Inclusionary Housing as a Peal Shell Game”). In the City of Long Beach for example, the City is condemning a Filipino Baptist Church property (ostensibly a "Red" political constituency) for "affordable housing" (ostensibly for "Blue" constituency occupants) [see here ]. This is why the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer's Association has now endorsed the Homeowner's and Private Property Protection Act (see here). Other than for true public works projects, eminent domain is a co-production of government and the media that purports to serve the public interest while it serves politicized special voting constituencies.

[3/23/06 Thursday]

[Bill Leonard, contributor, Member CA Board of Equalization] 12:03 am [permalink]
One If By Land From the Bill Leonard Blog March 16, 2006 There is a story going around that State Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata posted lookouts at the door to the Senate chambers to watch out for any Assembly-passed bond bill being transmitted between the houses. When the sentries called out, “The bond is coming, the bond is coming,” the Senate abruptly adjourned its session thus preventing the Assembly-passed bond bill from being considered. I know this does not have the same drama as Paul Revere's ride, but it is an indication that for all the press about fights between the Governor and the legislature, and the struggles between the Republicans and the Democrats, we should never forget the institutionalized tussle between the Senate and the Assembly. [Leonard Blog]

[3/22/06 Wednesday]

[Carol Platt Liebau - editorial director] 12:03 am [permalink]
More Fallout from the "Revolution" Anyone who still thought the sexual revolution was costless should read this piece from Cathy Young.

It's about men who have sex with women out of wedlock, and are then resentful when the women choose not to have abortions, thereby requiring them to pay child support for a baby they didn't plan on making. Women, they argue, can choose to abort the child or to have it -- a choice they don't get to make. If she chooses the latter, they insist, they should be able to terminate their financial obligation.

Nice. Sounds like chivalry truly is dead.

First, as Young points out, where does that leave the children? Minus not only a father, but without whatever money he would have contributed to the child's upbringing.

Where does that leave the mother? Coerced toward having the abortion, if she doesn't believe that she could manage without assistance from the father.

Where does that leave society? In many cases, supporting children whose fathers were happy enough to make them, significantly less happy to deal with the consequences.

It is unfair, as Young points out, that men can have to give up significant portions of their income for 21 years because they can't control the abortion "choice." But in the same sense, biology is inherently "unfair," too. Because those men won't be the ones either to risk the psychological and physical trauma that can result from an abortion (even one that's freely chosen) or else end up primarily responsible for a child.

Women can't offload the responsibility of carrying and birthing (or aborting) a child to men (nor, precious as it is, would most want to). Men can't offload the responsibility for providing financially for the children they make.

Maybe it's just something to keep in mind before one gets carried away in the heat of the moment [
Liebau Blog]

[3/21/06 Tuesday]

[Bill Leonard, contributor, Member CA Board of Equalization] 12:03 am [permalink]
No Heavy Lifting Required Kudos to Senator Abel Maldonado for his sound recommendations that the UC Regents take charge of their own university. I do not think they will listen to him because the Regents long ago stopped being a true, responsible board of directors and instead take the perks of regency while delegating away everything to the UC President and the faculty. Any other corporate or non-profit board would be held personally liable for corruption, but apparently not our UC Regents. No more jokes about CalTrans workers leaning on shovels-- if you really want a high paying job with NO heavy lifting and little expectation that you will even show up for work then contact President Dynes. There are days like this when I wish that UC had to file a tax return and pay taxes like the rest of us. [Leonard Blog]

[3/20/06 Monday]

[Bill Leonard, contributor, Member CA Board of Equalization] 12:03 am [permalink]
Whose Party Is It? Remember the name Michael Huffington? If not, congratulations on not being a political trivia master. If yes, then you will not be surprised by his most recent sighting. He is hosting a reception this week for an organization called “It‚s My Party, Too.” The mission of the organization is “to keep the big tent‚ approach to the Republican Party alive and well.” The group”s website says, “It is time for moderates in the Republican Party to become activists, activists for the sensible center, for reasonable policies based on the fundamental republican principles, which address the challenges Americans face at home and around the world.” I am not sure what that sentence means, what policies could be derived from it, nor how any particular politician would diverge from whatever those policies are. Unfortunately, groups like this are the cause of the divisions they complain about. They seemed determined not to welcome all comers, but to drive out conservatives. They have their mantra, but it seems to ignore reality. Consider some key officeholders in California Republican circles: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abel Maldonado, Keith Richman, Steve Poizner, Lynn Daucher, Bruce McPherson, Duf Sundheim. These people are moderates, they are actively engaged in the party, and they do not need an organization that rails against others to make their point.
[Leonard Blog]

[3/17/06 Friday]

[Nick Winter-Found in the ebag - from readers the Parkhursts] 12:02 am [permalink]
Limit Eminent Domain ~The People’s Initiative This Initiative is an all voluntary grassroots effort organized by concerned citizens whose aim is to join with others throughout California to qualify an Initiative that would restore eminent domain to TRUE public use and put an end to its widespread abuse. This is a nonpartisan California Constitutional Amendment that is not tied to any political ideology: its sole purpose is to prohibit eminent domain for private gain. Local government would no longer be able to use eminent domain to transfer your property to a private individual or corporation for development and private gain and for higher tax revenues.

You have the opportunity to make a difference and have your voice heard by going to: where you can download the petition for this very important campaign to limit eminent domain. You will also find important instructions for printing and circulation. If you would like a petition mailed to you, please call (408) 882-5008. We have 8 weeks to collect 800,000 signatures to qualify this Initiative for the November 2006 ballot. Time is of the essence! Every initiative since Prop 13 has used paid signature gatherers. We are different in that we are grass roots and all volunteer. This is truly an Initiative for the people, by the people!

[3/16/06 Thursday]

[Bill Leonard, contributor, Member CA Board of Equalization] 12:03 am [permalink]
When to Say No When I first came to the Legislature a veteran Assemblyman (Richard Hayden for those with long memories) told me that the toughest decision for a politician is deciding when to leave. Now with term limits that challenge is mostly gone but every now and again we see it. I commend Congressman Bill Thomas for going out on top. Under the arcane rules of the House Republicans his leadership on the Ways and Means Committee is over so his choice was to start a new assignment or leave as the one who put forth the President's tax cuts of the last 6 years.

Likewise I commend Senator Roy Ashburn for his decision to stick with his Senate leadership tenure and run for re-election instead of making the jump into what would be a nasty Congressional primary fight. And his classy announcement of his endorsement for Assemblyman Kevin McCarthy for that Congressional seat is virtually unheard of in intra-party primary fights.

The same for Assemblyman Tim Leslie who had indicated he might run for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Instead, he appears to be quietly retiring while still enjoying the love and admiration of his constituents and colleagues, an example of seriousness and selflessness in public service.

Then there is Congressman Elton Gallegy who filed for re-election then days later decided he did not want to serve anymore. His inept attempt to withdraw from the race giving no notice to his district or to would be successors sullied his reputation. This is not how to cap off a political career.

Or consider the jumps of Senator Joe Dunn who is now a candidate for statewide office. He created and abandoned several different committees before settling on one office where he thinks he has the best chance of winning. Don't peek at the Secretary of State web site, can you guess which office Dunn is now running for? Filing as an act of desperation is not how to go quietly into the night. [Leonard Blog]

[3/15/06 Wednesday]

[Bill Leonard, contributor, Member CA Board of Equalization] 12:03 am [permalink]
Two-thirds Is More Than Half The aborted bond deal of last weekend is a prime example in how the legislature counts numbers. The majority party is the majority because they hold more than half the seats. For almost all of the body‚s rules and practices, it is winner takes all. None of the touchy-feely, everyone's-a-winner mentality here. The only place where it is okay to discriminate against a minority is against the minority party in a legislature or a Congress. This is where the rub comes in. Our California Constitutional drafters decided that certain decisions were so important that a consensus of an extra-ordinary majority was necessary before going forward. The state cannot spend money, raise taxes, or go into debt without two-thirds of the legislature agreeing to the proposal. For as long as I can remember, the majority party cannot accept this. They have tried every scheme to go around the Constitution, but they are almost always caught.

Friday night the Senate leadership brought just TWO copies of the $47 billion bond bill to the Senate floor. These leaders (all Democrats) told their allies that the bill contained all of their priorities. These leaders told the minority party that if they opposed the bill they would be accused of shameful behavior and would be blamed for future levee failures and other disasters. With only two physical copies available, it is obvious that no one read the bill. It is also obvious that the debate did not focus on the merits of the text of the bill but on the process that the minority party was not engaged in writing this bill. The debate ended. The vote was counted, and the bill received a majority vote, and it died.

The two-thirds vote requirement demands that virtually every legislator be involved in the writing of these important bills. This is the only way ever achieve consensus. The sooner the majority party leadership figures out how to count to two-thirds the sooner we the people will have real leadership on these important issues. [Leonard Blog]

[3/14/05 Tuesday]

[John Eastman Prof Law/Chapman & Director @ Claremont Institute] 12:01 am [permalink]
Eminent Domain Abuse in Long Beach, CA - City Aims at Filipino Baptist Fellowship Church - Long Beach Redevelopment Agency Votes to Condemn Filipino Baptist Fellowship Church

At its March 13, 2006 hearing, after extensive comments from the community about the public good that a Church provides to the community, and after Claremont Institute's Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence Director John Eastman noted that the record did not contain any evidence supporting a finding that condemnation of the Church was necessary to redevelopment of adjoining property, the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency Board voted 6-0 to condemn the Filipino Baptist Fellowship Church in order to make way for more condos. Although the City still claims to want to work with the Church to find it a suitable alternative location, it has still not demonstrated why it needs to take the existing Church in the first place.

Our Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence is representing the Church to try to stop the condemnation.

Fox News Channel's Hannity & Colmes Show featured the case on its March 3, 2006 "It Could Happen To You" program series. Still photos from the show are available here. Watch the program, which is available on-line via streaming video here. Scroll down to the "It Could Happen to You" section, then click on the "Hellish Fight" video link.

Then help us do something to stop eminent domain abuse.

Call the office of Long Beach Mayor Beverly O'Neill at (562) 570-6801, or e-mail her at to protest condemning a Church to make way for condos. Call 6th District Councilwoman Laura Richardson at (562) 570-6816 -- the Church is in her district. Call the Redevelopment Board Members (names here) at (562) 570-6615 and let them know how outraged you are by this decision.

You can also call Barbara Kaiser, Executive Director of the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency, at (562) 570-6340, or e-mail her at

Let the City hear your views about their efforts to close down a vibrant community church.

Leave at comment at our Local Liberty blog if you've had a bad experience with the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency.

Other News Coverage:

Baptist Press (March 9, 2006).

The Wiley Drake Show, Christian Newswire

World Net Daily (March 12, 2006).

[3/9/06 Thursday]

[Nick Winter-Found in the ebag from Chuck Poochigian] 12:02 am [permalink]
First 5 Commission’s Executive Director Refuses to Answer JLAC Questions Without Legal Counsel Committee Approves Audit Request into Potential Misuse of Taxpayer Funds for “Preschool for All” Campaign Yesterday, the Executive Director of the First 5 Commission, Kris Perry, refused to answer any questions from Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC) members, stating that she was advised by Attorney General Bill Lockyer to secure legal counsel before testifying.  The committee proceeded to approve an audit request into whether the First 5 Commission misused taxpayer funds in coordination with a ballot initiative campaign known as “Preschool for All” (Proposition 82).  Following is a statement from Senator Chuck Poochigian (R-Fresno), who is Vice-chair of JLAC: “The Executive Director's highly unusual refusal to answer any questions elevates my concern about charges of wrongdoing.  I left the hearing with more questions than I had going in about what they have to hide.  In  light of the serious allegations of violations of the public trust, I will continue to push to expedite investigations and audits into the allegations of misuse of taxpayer dollars."

[3/8/06 Wednesday]

[Bill Leonard, contributor, Member CA Board of Equalization] 12:03 am [permalink]
Wanted: Murderer Terminator: Surely in all of California there is a doctor who will assist the people of the state in carrying out the execution of a violent convicted murderer. While the California Medical Association shames itself by manufacturing some trumped up ethical argument, there has to be one volunteer. The judge, the jury, the prison authorities, the Governor, the appeals court, and all of the people who work in our prisons carry out their duties to implement our laws; the Medical Association wants a pass for their members. In truth, a doctor's duty to save a life whenever possible is no greater than my duty. Likewise for either of us to assist the courts in carrying out a sentence of execution is part of our duty as citizens of California. If you are a doctor and are interested in assisting, please contact the Acting Secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Jeanne Woodford, 1515 S Street, Sacramento. (916) 323-6001. [Leonard Blog]

[3/6/06 Monday]

[Bill Leonard, contributor, Member CA Board of Equalization] 12:03 am [permalink]
My Nomination for Column of the Year: I try to do a lot of reading. Even so, it is a rare occurrence that I read something in a newspaper that is truly exceptional.

Last week, Dan Weintraub of the Sacramento Bee penned a piece for his California Insider weblog column that I am still thinking about, and I have concluded it deserves special recognition. Dan is known as a chronicler of political baseball in Sacramento. This column is only about politics on the surface; at its core it is a wonderful lesson about economics that would impress Milton Friedman. Those of you who are economics or social studies teachers might consider spending time dissecting this column with your students. What Weintraub does in a few hundred words is more memorable than the hundreds of pages of what I recall wading through for college economics.

His basic thesis is that we need to look for an alternative to employer-managed health care. To illustrate his point, he talks about what life would be like if government mandated that employers sign us up for plans to manage our nutritional needs, or our housing, instead of letting us deal with these decisions and costs on our own as we do now. The result would most certainly be bad food and substandard housing - and probably shortages of both. Why then are we so wedded to the notion that health care consumers need something between them and the providers of the health care? It is exactly the right question to ask -- let the light shine on this column - [Leonard Blog]

[3/2/06 Thursday]

[Carol Platt Liebau - editorial director] 12:03 am [permalink]
Nice Try So much for Arnold's big spending plans. This story once again illustrates why it's a fool's errand to try to placate implacable adversaries. [Liebau Blog]

[3/1/06 Wednesday]

[Bill Leonard, contributor, Member CA Board of Equalization] 12:03 am [permalink]
Teachers Just “Fudge”
My article last week about educators' use of group learning techniques generated strong reactions from several teachers. One teacher said that if a teacher puts five students in a group, then they have one-fifth of the papers/projects to grade. On the other hand, one teacher told me how her colleagues get around the silliness of some education fads, like group learning: they fudge. These teachers know what works with students and they do not want to be forced into experimental or ineffectual classroom methods. So, they submit lesson plans that conform with the latest “requirement” but they do not teach to those lesson plans. Instead, they stick with what they know works in their classroom. One problem with this is that administrators reviewing good results might think the falsified lesson plans deserve credit when actually it is the ingenuity of a good teacher. The other problem this identifies is some principals being completely out of touch with what is happening in the classrooms on their campuses. I am curious about how widespread this practice is, and while I cannot advocate lying, I also cannot condemn a professional who wants to do right by their students. I welcome your stories and experiences on this topic. Send your thoughts to me at [Leonard Blog]

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