by Lou Binninger

               Proclamations like “We’re Number One” or “We’re the Best” should be noted with skepticism. Other mottos in the same genre could be “You can trust us” or “We’re transparent.” The reason these slogans sound out of tune is that conclusions or praise should be reserved for the general public to make about an enterprise, not the business about itself.

            Proverbs 27:2 (GNT) advises, “Let other people praise you - even strangers; never do it yourself.”

            The Yuba County Water Agency (YCWA) likes to “toot its horn” about how wonderful they are and transparent. Indeed the Yuba County Supervisors who survived the 1955 flood launched a water project miracle that now over 50 years later is blessing Yuba County. And the county is fortunate that Pacific Gas and Electric paid the bonds off before going belly-up.

For those alive when the New Bullards Bar Dam was voted on by residents, financed with bonds and constructed, efforts today to alter that history are met with skepticism. To say that the people and the county had no responsibility should PG and E fail is a stretch.

YCWA took issue with last week’s March 11 article “Big Payouts at CalPERS” by touting “inaccuracies and misleading information” about YCWA. However, there was no mention of what those miscues were or a specific rebuttal. What is provided by YCWA is a list of monies given to benefit county government, nonprofits, schools etc. and then a list of policies.

YCWA says, “Where we find a connection to our mission areas – reducing the community’s flood risk, ensuring water supply reliability, hydropower generation, improving fish and wildlife habitat, and providing recreation at New Bullards Bar Reservoir – we invest heavily for the benefit of the people of Yuba County.”

The problem is who is determining the connection or nexus. There is a glaring conflict of interest having the Yuba County Supervisors serving as YCWA directors and making decisions over YCWA monies. Was it a coincidence that supervisors running for office were included in news releases and photos giving away YCWA money and assets during the election?

YCWA found a nexus to pave a county roadway into their power house. They gave money to hill fire departments and law enforcement to provide services around the dam. That makes sense.

YCWA then pays nearly $5 million to pave North Beale Rd and Olivehurst Avenue because “people will use those roads in an evacuation.” Really, a nexus? Then, why not repair Marysville city routes, the death trap of the county when it comes to an escape from flooding? YCWA directors could at least find a nexus to water or flooding to pay for 12,000 life vests which are less costly than asphalt.

Funding the paving of escape routes is interesting, but what about law enforcement and fire agencies that actually manage the very emergencies that YCWA finds a nexus in? YCWA directors see no connection in funding fulltime hill deputies that manage emergencies, eradicate water polluting marijuana grows and hopefully have some plan against a terrorist assault on the dam itself?

YCWA spent hundreds of thousands of dollars cleaning-up the river bottoms’ garbage and toxic waste, but now does not consider the continued polluting by vagrants of the river ecosystem worthy of vigilance. What about a deputy or two to stop the destruction along our waterways?

Not having separate boards over YCWA and the County will always create suspicion in spending hundreds of millions of dollars. The poor treatment of YCWA director (non-supervisor) Charlie Mathews because he raises questions about the low interest rates earned on reserve funds, certain grants, about who cashes in on water sales, and questions giving raises to the YCWA directors brings into question the integrity of YCWA board.

Recently, Director Brent Hastey offered a motion and Mike Leahy a second with a unanimous vote in Mathews’ absence  to increase YCWA directors monthly base salary from $1283 to $2000/month effective after full Board approval; Increase the monthly salary by 5% annually in January for 10 years; Increase additional compensation to the Chair of the Board from $250 to $375/month; Add a monthly stipend for the Vice Chair of the Board of $250/month; Increase special assignments compensation from $100 to $150/month; establish a $200/month auto/travel allowance for travel within Yuba County.

Directors already receive a per diem allowance as Supervisors.

The YCWA board modified the raises after Mathews complained. Threats to censure Mathews or remove him from committees by Brent Hastey will further undermine the credibility of the agency.

The lack of honesty of the County Supervisors about Measure K has also brought into question the workings of the YCWA since the same individuals serve both and are moving monies back and forth at will between the county and the agency.

by Lou Binninger

When Marysville decided to license marijuana dispensaries opponents accused the city of being biased as to whom would be awarded a permit to operate. Two permits were authorized by the council and a zone where they were to reside. However, the zone moved depending on who wanted a permit.

            Rumors in Sutter and Yuba County tell of offers of big money to pass favorable grow ordinances and in – kind gifts for the supervisors’ favor.

            So goes the unclean relationship as government attempts to suck more and more money from business and business attempts to avoid harassment or tries to cash-in on bureaucratic micromanaging.

            The legalization of marijuana (MJ) has brought the dirt to the surface as MJ business people troll politicians with thousands in cash and government lusts after the big MJ tax money. All the while the black market which was supposed to wane away after legalization is booming.

            An article by Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times, “California is awash in cannabis cash. Some is being used to bribe public officials,” includes an amazing collection of corruption cases while legalization is just 2-years old.

            Most will remember Sheriff Jon Lopey who was offered $1 million if he would keep deputies away from certain illegal cannabis farms in Siskiyou County. Lopey contacted the FBI who video recorded numerous deliveries of thousands of dollars in envelopes to him. The brother sister duo, Chi Yang and Gaosheng Laitinen were arrested and prosecuted.

            Most people have a price at which they can be bought.  McGreevy says, “California is awash in cannabis cash from inside and out of the state, partly because pot remains an illegal drug under federal law, so banks won’t accept cash from the businesses. The state’s black market for cannabis was estimated to be worth $3.7 billion last year — more than four times the size of the legal market, according to the firm New Frontier Data.”

            Last year, the mayor pro tem of Adelanto, Jermaine Wright was charged with agreeing to accept a bribe to fast-track a marijuana business. FBI agents also served search warrants at the home of Adelanto mayor Rich Kerr, at City Hall and at a marijuana retailer.

            Last March, a federal jury found Michael Kimbrew guilty of bribery and extortion. He was a field representative to then Rep. Janice Hahn when he took cash from an undercover FBI agent while pledging his "undying support" to protect a dispensary the City of Compton wanted to close.

            An Oakland case involves developer Dorian Gray accused of offering bribes to then-Oakland City Council President Larry Reid and Assistant City Administrator Greg Minor.  Gray allegedly offered the councilman cash to help obtain a cannabis dispensary permit, and Reid reported the offer to authorities. Gray is charged with offering Minor, who oversees marijuana permitting for Oakland, a free trip to Spain.

            Marysville Mayor Ricky Samayoa was paid $5,000 by the current Marysville dispensary during his election and during its appeal to obtain a permit to operate. The company’s application was previously rejected. Another $5,000 donation was provided by others related to the dispensary owners.

            There have been other convictions in the past as medical marijuana was permitted two decades ago. The former mayor of the City of Cudahy was sentenced to one year in federal prison in 2013 for taking cash bribes in exchange for supporting the opening of a “medical marijuana” store.

The head of the city’s code enforcement division and a city councilman were also convicted of being in on the pay-off.

“Corruption is always worse at the local level because there are so many more local officials and they aren’t under as much scrutiny as those in Sacramento,” said Dale Gieringer, director of California NORML, a pro-legalization group that supported Proposition 64. State agencies, he said, “have been doing their best to expedite licensing, but too many local players have been getting their hands in the pie.”

Law enforcement is aware of tons of marijuana being exported from California throughout the country. Sam Clauder, former congressional aide and San Bernardino County Democratic Party official pled guilty in 2017 to charges in Texas of possessing 130 pounds of cannabis on his way east from California. He said he was earning $30,000 a trip as a runner and made 45 trips prior to being apprehended.

Corruption wasn’t born with the legalization of MJ. Big money being made by business is tough for most politicians to pass-up.

           

by Lou Binninger

After Yuba County misappropriated hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to promote Measure K and a 1% sales tax increase, it is now spending more to hire a private Nevada County law firm to defend the Measure in Yuba County Superior Court before Judge Stephen Berrier.

            Yuba County and the State of California are being sued by Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Charles Mathews and John Mistler to invalidate the ordinance because the plaintiffs say the Measure needed a 2/3s approval versus the simple majority vote it received.

The Measure was promoted as a tax needed to maintain proper levels of public safety since there were no other monies available. The public was assured the needed new taxes would be secured in a special fund.

Since the November 2018 election hundreds of thousands of dollars are being released annually to the county general fund ($635,000 announced recently) from the Yuba County Water Agency. In spite of the county prophets of public-safety-doom there are no guarantees that these “newly discovered” dollars will be used to hire deputies and fund fire agencies. This is astonishing when recalling the pre-election scare-the-hell-out-of-‘em rhetoric.

 The irony is that prior to the election it was implied that a lack of public safety dollars led to the wounding of two Yuba County deputies responding to a parolee vandalizing a marijuana grow. The county administrator, five supervisors along with two additional water agency directors have that responsibility on them and not the citizens. There were hundreds of millions of dollars in the water agency account but they played a shell game risking the lives of public employees.

The real story here is the same throughout the state, counties and cities are going broke, unable to make their pension payments. However, few bureaucrats and politicians are honest enough to tell the truth. Instead the public gets razzle-dazzle and euphemisms like the “cost of doing business” is going up.

The state pension fund CalPERS is going under due to over-generous benefits, incompetent and corrupt union management, and politically correct stupidity in investing. Every week there is a new CalPERS crisis or miscue in the news.

The latest is “California state workers hoarding vacation days, creating $3.5 billion debt for taxpayers.” (These figures do not include local jurisdictions). State workers can cash-out unused vacation days. These amounts are not reflected in the unfunded pension liability noted on the books.

Melody Gutierrez with the LA Times wrote, “After 36 years as a California government transportation engineer, Bijan Sartipi retired with much more than a goodbye party: He was paid $405,000 for time off he never used — one of more than 450 state workers who took home six-figure checks when they left their jobs last year. And Sartipi didn’t top the list — a prison surgeon in Riverside pocketed $456,002.”

The crisis is caused by lax enforcement of the cap on vacation time accumulation and other benefits. State workers have hit the pension lottery. And the $3-4 billion vacation payout last year did not include legislative or University of California personnel.

The unfunded liability also does not include figures for employees who used stockpiled days-off at the end of their careers to remain employed while not actually working, boosting the value of their pensions.

Employment rules state that vacation balances for most employees be capped at 640 hours. However, poor enforcement of the rule, along with an increasing number of state workers retiring, led to a 60% rise in the number of six-figure payouts since 2012, when 280 employees each cashed in unused paid leave totaling $100,000 or more the LA Times analysis found.

Stanford public policy professor Joe Nation blames government mismanagement. “It’s like having a speed limit but not enforcing it,” he said. “This is not a good way to run any organization.” It seems like a mismanagement virus is affecting California government at all levels.

In the private sector, some businesses offer “use it or lose it” paid vacation approaches. Others cap vacation accrual benefits between 40 hours and 400 hours and do not allow time to be earned beyond those limits.

Meanwhile, in Yuba County, state attorneys will appear before Judge Berrier to ask to be released from the Measure K legal action at a 2PM hearing on March 19, 2019. A motion for an injunction against the tax taking effect will be heard, as well.

by Lou Binninger

Politicians are at their worst when imposing sin taxes on tobacco, alcohol and marijuana (MJ).  Alcohol is the most widely used and devastating substances to society when considering addiction, health impact, auto accidents, crimes and offensive behavior. The country tried prohibition but has resorted instead to heavily taxing and regulating the industry.

Government takes a similar punishing approach to tobacco short of making the product completely illegal. The costs and taxes are so egregious that a flourishing black market has emerged. The same pack of cigarettes in Sacramento for $9 can be purchased in Saigon for 90 cents. The price difference between one state and another inspires bootleg cigarette entrepreneurs to move truckloads into the higher cost jurisdictions.

The enforcement and collection of revenues is so lush that there is the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to root out ne’er-do-wells who want to save or make thousands of dollars a year for their enjoyment. You can sin but you have to pay for protection to the government.

 Libertarians say let people partake of what they want as long as they are just harming themselves.  Let’s do away with government profiting from people’s preferences in life.

However, with a socialist medical system where “the poor” get a free ride, if the taxpayer is paying for the medical bills resulting from imbibing and inhaling, then should society be able to recoup its investment in livers and lungs? Some may say let’s have a market –driven approach to determine how to medically address drinkers and smokers who cannot pay their way.

The biggest cash cow that could be taxed are fat people who scientists say are over-dining for a disease or just plain wearing-out their body by packing around an extra 50-500 pounds.  However, others say the medical expenses even-out because fat people die sooner saving the taxpayers.  And, skinny people living “too long” can blow a couple million dollars in a health crisis at 85 by utilizing extraordinary life-saving equipment, super drugs and expensive procedures. Socialized medicine gets complicated.

Maybe all people could weigh-in at the health department each year to be charged by the pound for not making weight. That money could go into a co-op to pay for medical care.

Since 1996, when Proposition 215 permitted the use of marijuana with a prescription (215 Card) from a doctor, society has been evolving toward legalizing MJ and hemp for whatever ails you or just a buzz.

Though many very sick people have tried and/or benefitted from MJ, most people with a “wink and a nod” got the card to get high recreationally. Who wants to tell a cancer or severe seizure patient suffering on narcotics that they cannot try a MJ product anyway?

With the new recreational use passed in California the costs of both recreational and medical MJ are extremely high for growers, middle men, dispensaries and consumers. The fees to obtain a permit, jump through innumerable hoops, and taxing every phase from farm to fork are extremely high, so high that legitimate businesses have a tough time staying solvent. And, there are a huge number of illegal dispensaries who show-up then pack-up overnight with the state lacking the enforcement personnel to manage.

The black market will remain alive and well and keep ATF and other law enforcement types in business. This is another government-driven fiasco to profit politicians.

Along with government cashing-in there is a plethora of myths, bologna and wild claims about the benefits of MJ. Allen Berenson, a self-described libertarian who is married to Dr. Jacqueline Berenson, senior psychiatrist at Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Institute (for the criminally mentally ill) has written “Tell Your Children, The Truth about Marijuana, Mental Illness and Violence.”

A Yale graduate with a respected journalism career, Berenson did research on the connection between cannabis, mental illness and violence. Talks with his wife about her clients prompted his alarm and interest in the subject.

Berenson accuses the media, MJ advocates and politicians of under-selling the dangers of MJ use while over-selling the benefits. He says, “For centuries, people worldwide have understood that cannabis causes mental illness and violence just as they’ve known that opiates cause addiction and overdoses.”

Currently, the government is making the big money from MJ but are authorities intentionally ignoring the studies and statistics on the risks with MJ usage? While the dangers of tobacco, alcohol, opiates and a bad diet are frequently publicized today maybe it’s time to help people make a wise choice on whether marijuana is right for them. In our current socialist system taxpayers will pick-up the tab for the trouble that arises.

by Lou Binninger

Liberals believe that outlawing abortion will lead to millions of illegal and unsafe abortions and many women dying annually. The same liberals say that making guns illegal will stop the firearm violence and deaths, saving nearly 40,000 lives lost in 2017. Left logic leads to brain freeze.

            Numerous efforts are underway by politicians to violate their oath to uphold the Constitution by restricting the use and possession of guns. These officials are unfit to serve and should be removed from office. Their political heresy amounts to an assault on the liberty and freedom of every American whether they own a firearm or not.

Today, it’s the Second Amendment and tomorrow Freedom of Religion, Speech and Assembly. The Founders believed that protecting the right to own weapons equipped the populace to overthrow a government like we have today. Colonists experienced England’s efforts to confiscate weaponry from them. They wanted to insure it never happened again.

            Plenty has been written explaining that throughout history guns confiscated and prohibited in free societies led to violent takeovers by Communist or Fascists thugs. In the absence of an armed resistance hundreds of millions of innocent people have been murdered by Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Ho Chi Minh, Castro, Guevara, and more.

            Some states in America are leading the way to eventually take guns, Commifornia being an anti-gun poster state. Currently, there is a Constitutional stand-off led by County Sheriffs in New Mexico.

             New Mexico Democrats, led by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D), are pushing universal background checks, gun confiscation via red flag laws, and a broadened prohibited persons list for firearm purchases and possession.

               Last week, 29 of 33 of New Mexico’s sheriffs signed a statement against gun control. The New Mexico Sheriff’s Association also announced plans to sue the state if the new gun controls are enacted. Next, a public backlash against gun control led to 21 of New Mexico’s 33 counties declaring themselves “Second Amendment Sanctuaries.”

               There are 2nd Amendment Champion Sheriffs throughout the America. Many others are shameful, violating their oath to the Constitution and the people.

               Some counties in Colorado are also beginning to adopt “Second Amendment Sanctuary” status against a Democrat-sponsored gun confiscation law making its way through the state legislature. Democrat lawmakers are pushing a red flag law to empower police to seize firearms from Colorado residents. 

               The Constitution does not prohibit open carrying of firearms or establish a permit system to carry a concealed gun or create a gun registry. Many Yuba-Sutter residents recall as teens carrying firearms openly in public places and even in gun racks across the back window of pick-ups or in slings behind seats. A gun in the car at high school was not unheard of where students either went hunting before or after school.

            Making it mandatory to get a permit, register guns or to prohibit open carry is government tyranny. Having to obtain a permit or a license means it is not a right but is illegal unless permitted by government. If the state grants permission it can withdraw the permission. Some states comply with the Constitution honoring full 2nd Amendment rights, eliminating the need to ask the state’s permission to possess, carry openly or concealed.

            Founders of the Constitution saw rights being granted by God and therefore permission could not be granted or withheld by government authorities. However, rights not exercised or fought for by the beneficiaries are rights surrendered and lost.

              

by Lou Binninger

            The City of Wheatland has been in the news lately chastised by Commissar Newsom as one of 47 cities and counties out of lockstep with the centralized management of Sacramento. The egregious offense is not obeying or fulfilling affordable housing requirements established by comrades in the Capitol.

According to the State Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency, which oversees the Housing and Community Development Department, Wheatland (approx 3,700 people) does not have enough affordable housing (welfare) and has not planned for such to be established. In a socialist system underperformers and the noncompliant are publically shamed and then financially punished.

Every village, town and county has to live up to the expectations of Commifornia’s centralized management. Remember, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic’s (USSR) 5-year agricultural plans were utilized to “motivate” the masses only to achieve mass starvation? It’s the same gig here, but this time with housing not potatoes.

Wheatland does not build homes, thank God, but the state acts like they do or expects them to harass the contractors who risk their livelihood to do so.

In the real free-market-world houses are built when a contractor or developer sees a profit potential in risking time and money to create single family or multiple family dwellings.  When the costs of a project are too high with minimal return on investment, housing starts come to a halt. However, this Sacramento Decree isn’t about the free market but about the taxpayers picking up the tab on more government madness.

            In Commifornia, flat brain officials and enviro-terrorists have added so many fees, green requirements, legal challenges to development, and layers of white collar welfare that the big innovative affordable housing developments today are tents on public property along rivers, in subways and under freeways.

            There you can excrete where you eat, do dope, reside with your refuse and live lawless at no charge while being memorialized and mothered by liberals in otherwise the most repressive state in the union. Socialist ghettos with no responsibility are a bigger draw for participants than high density low-income housing.

Socialism is about state intervention in the form of HYPERLINK "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_redistribution" \o "Income redistribution"income redistribution, HYPERLINK "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulatory_economics" \o "Regulatory economics"regulation, and a HYPERLINK "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welfare_state" \o "Welfare state"welfare state. Centralized management and control is maintained by taxing the people, redistributing the proceeds to fulfil the state’s desires and withholding removed funds from people and jurisdictions that do not comply with the state’s wishes.

Former Commissar Jerry Brown said that the state’s department of Housing and Community Development was able to penalize municipalities for failing to comply and can notify the state’s attorney general’s office of the violations.

            Commissar Newsom’s described housing “failures” like Wheatland are not violations of some moral code but of arbitrary and tyrannical rules and regulations to reach some utopian mirage. The collateral damage of socialism is the loss of liberty and freedom of local residents where ultimately society goes broke except for the rulers who are exempt from the rules they make.

            The state demands that Wheatland reserve 17 acres where 20 low-income high density housing units will be installed per acre. That would work out to nearly 400 housing units where there are about 1100 total Wheatland units of all types now. 

Currently, there is little demand for new housing in the city. It’s like the state managing the milk supply, charging $20 a gallon and shooting the cows because the milk is not selling. It seems absurd because it is.

Low Income housing is a euphemism where the taxpayers buy the neighbors’ place as well as their own. In other words, the socialists are charitable with the money of others removed by force.

            How can the state tell local jurisdictions what to do? Locals are pimped out. The state takes the taxes, then usurps the rights of local people and controls them by withholding needed funding for projects. There is no difference between this evil corrupt system and what was employed in the USSR and is now utilized in Venezuela, Cuba, Laos, China and Vietnam. If locals do tricks for the state they will get a “fix.” If not, they won’t.

            The housing crisis has been created by socialist policies and enviro-terrorists and it will be solved only by a collapse of that insane tyrannical system. Problems are never fixed by the same thinking that created them. Destructive policies have been poisoning this state for decades and now the Wizards want the people to “make bricks with no straw.” Commissar Newsom, The Enforcer Becerra and the cast of suck-up judges are kooks on a mission.

by Lou Binninger

Sacramento attorneys Bell, McAndrews, and Hiltachk, LLP representing the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA), Charles Mathew and John Mistler have filed a motion in Yuba County Court for Preliminary Injunction and Declaratory Relief regarding the Measure K sales tax increase. It will be heard on March 18, 2019, at 10am in Department 4 before Superior Court Judge Stephen W. Berrier.

Measure K received a simple majority of the vote 7,964 (53.04%) versus 7,051 (46.96%) on November 6, 2018 to add another 1% of local sales tax onto the state sales tax rate of 7.25%. All of the added 1 percent would go to Yuba County versus the State of California.

The contention by the plaintiffs and anti-tax increase people is that the way Measure K was written and promoted necessitated a two-thirds majority approval instead of a simple 50% plus one majority. Opponents say the Measure was written and promoted as a tax dedicated to a special purpose as opposed to a tax to benefit the general fund.

Election rules for new taxes have been established by Propositions 13 and 218 previously passed by voters.

On March 18, if Judge Berrier approves the injunction, then Yuba County would be prohibited from entering an agreement with the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) to enact and administrate the “illegal, unconstitutional and unenforceable Yuba County special tax.” If Berrier does not concur with the plaintiffs’ motion then the tax will go into effect April 1, 2019.

The suit says “Yuba County Board of Supervisors proposed, drafted and placed Measure K on the November 6, 2018 ballot. Measure K unequivocally proposed a special tax. By the terms of its own governing provision, funds generated by the tax were specially dedicated to “public safety” and related essential services. In addition, the funds generated by Measure K were to be placed in a special account to preserve them for their special purpose.” Special purpose taxes require a two-thirds passage by voters.

HJTA wrote the Supervisors prior to the election warning them that the ordinance was improperly drafted as a Special Tax but only asking for a simple majority passage. HJTA advised supervisors to correct the misleading of voters. County Administrator Robert Bendorf declined the input of HJTA maintaining the Measure K verbiage was legal and accurate.

HJTA won a similar suit against the City of Roseville in 2003 opposing a utility user’s tax and the Roseville case is quoted in the Yuba dispute. “The Roseville court then determined that a utility user’s tax, which generated revenues solely for police, fire, parks and recreation, and library services, was a “special tax” because it was imposed for specific purposes. This was true, according to the court, even though those purposes accounted for approximately 50 percent of the city’s general fund expenditures.”

The Yuba lawsuit further says the Measure K is similar to a number of other public safety taxes that have been “acknowledged” to be special taxes requiring a two-thirds vote for approval. In those cases voters approved the measure with more than a two-thirds majority. (San Marino, Oakland and California City are cited).

A preliminary injunction is requested by the attorneys as necessary to enjoin any agreement between the County and CDTFA for administration of the illegal tax until the Court can rule on the Plaintiffs’ underlying reverse validation action.

County residents are saying that Supervisors Fletcher and Bradford announced that the assessments of the higher sales tax of 8.25% will commence on April 1 and the revenues will be held in a fund by CDTFA until the suit is resolved. If that is the case and the county loses the suit, will taxpayers get a refund for being overtaxed incorrectly by businesses? Should consumers keep their receipts for purchases on April 1 forward? Who would refund the overcharge, CDTFA? How do people apply for the refund? It seems like undue chaos is being created by the Supervisors rather than waiting for a fair hearing on the matter.

by Lou Binninger

            On July 1, 2017, Chief Deputy County Counsel Courtney Abril took over as Yuba County Counsel after Angil Morris-Jones’ departure. “Over the last year, Mrs. Abril has developed a very good relationship with county departments and elected officials,” said Yuba County Administrator Robert Bendorf in recommending her to the board. “Her hard work and effective management of the County Counsel’s office is evident to all who work with her.”

            However, recently Abril resigned her position saying she needed to be more focused on family matters according to one source. The interesting timing was that Measure K had been challenged with a lawsuit alleging the improper crafting of the ordinance. Also, the county suffered the financial loss in attempting to nullify the 1979 jail consent decree. And, last year there was a million dollar settlement for a man ending his life while incarcerated.

Although Abril had been serving in the county counsel’s office she was the Chief for about 18 months.

New applicants have been considered by the Supervisors with Michael Ciccozzi being the likely choice this Tuesday after he resigned his post in El Dorado County (EDC) February 7th. According to the Mountain Democrat, Ciccozzi served as County Counsel there since April 2016 though he worked for the county on and off since 2003.

            Ciccozzi said his reason for leaving like Abril, was family, his wife’s family lives in Chico. “Family comes first” he says after a 15-year connection to EDC government.

            However, in a March 7, 2016 Mountain Democrat (MD) article Ciccozzi was criticized for the handling of the employment contract for retired Sutter County Administrator (CAO) Larry Combs who was going to work for EDC as interim CAO.

               CalPERS, the state employee retirement system, has rules guiding when, how and if a retiree collecting benefits can double-dip by returning to work for a CalPERS agency or county. Ciccozzi appeared to ignore them.

            The MD article says, “CalPERS has strict requirements to prevent double-dipping of a CalPERS annuitant, such as Combs. It was public pressure from citizens who were outraged at public officials making $200k a year in retirement benefits, like Combs, and then get another similar job, effectively doubling their income. Poor Mr. Combs, because of the double-dipping laws, is only pulling down $300K annually.”

            CalPERS requirements are spelled out in Government Code Sections 21221(h) and 21224. Two of those requirements are that an open recruitment for CAO is required before signing such a contract for an interim position and that the contract must have an end date. Comb’s contract had no end date and there was no publicized recruitment.

            EDC personnel rules say “All recruitment announcements will be posted on the county’s website and other appropriate locations for a minimum of five days.” There was no posting on the county website or anywhere else for a permanent CAO on or before the Combs’ contract was executed. The article says Ciccozzi’s statements and/or emails as published in the Mountain Democrat are misleading and false.

            Ciccozzi also served in EDC during the tenure of Terry Daly who was CAO before Combs filled in. Terry Daly eventually resigned under pressure and took a job as chief financial officer with Yuba County Water Agency.

Both Ciccozzi and Daly have been accused, and EDC is being sued over mishandling of Mitigation Fees. These are fees taken from property owners and developers for future infrastructure upgrades. However there are strict accounting and accountability rules to monitor the use and keeping of the funds by government.

            EDC Auditor-Controller (A/C) Joe Harn notified then CAO Daly that “EDC was out of compliance with County Ordinance 13.020.20, and California Mitigation Fee Act (Government Code Section 66000-66008) districts (in EDC) that collect money and the collection of those developers’ fees needed to stop.”

            A lawsuit against EDC (Dec 4, 2015 $30 million) maintains the Mitigation Fees have been mis-allocated and the proper re-evaluation of the use and need of the fees every 5 years was not done. Therefore, plaintiffs there are demanding a refund of their fees. Former County Counsel Ciccozzi along with Daly ignored and argued against A/C Harn’s protests that the county was out of compliance and violating the law.

            Some feel a worse-case scenario shows EDC paying out up to $50 million in a settlement over the Mitigation Fee Act violations.

            Many in El Dorado County are happy that Ciccozzi and Daly are gone. Now, they both work for Yuba County.

by Lou Binninger

              

A “hunger strike” that began with 46 ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) detainees at the Yuba County jail to protest jail conditions lasted for 6 days (Feb 10-15). “No-borders” activists who want all prisoners in ICE detention centers set-free offered the typical exaggerated rhetoric and sound-bite inaccuracies as fodder for the media.

            Autumn Gonzalez of Norcal Resist said, “A lot of people say Yuba is the worst experience they’ve had. It’s really hard on people emotionally and mentally.” Most inmates would disagree with Gonzalez.

A deported former inmate who lost his case called from Central Mexico last week. Unaware of the protests he described his experience being incarcerated at Yuba County as life changing. He received daily care for his diabetes and attended numerous classes and religious services over his nearly one year stay.

               Rhonda Rios Kravitz with the inmate activist group Alianza says “She can’t speak to the criminal history of all of the detainees, but does say they have served their sentences as provided by the criminal justice system and should be released into their communities here in the United States. That includes two gang members convicted of murder.”

Criminal history facts are of no concern to Kravitz since she believes noncitizens who commit crimes should be released in the U.S. after serving a sentence. However, that is not what immigration law says. Only U.S. citizens get that privilege. Noncitizens committing crimes may forfeit their permission to be in America.

            Local public defender Katie Finch at a Sacramento rally said, “We believe that no human is illegal and no human who enters a jail facility loses their humanity.” This straw man argument is nonsensical and double-talk. Is Finch saying no person is illegal but just the act of killing someone is illegal? OK then. So what? Should we come-up with a new term for people who are in this country violating immigration law or “illegally?”

No one is contradicting Finch to argue that people indeed forfeit their humanity when incarcerated in America? However, few housed at Yuba County would prefer a stay in their home country’s jail. Forfeiting your humanity does occur in Russia, China, Vietnam, Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Chile etc. But, most all inmates prefer US detention for a chance to win the national lottery of freedom and cradle to grave entitlements here.

Sacramento activist Ruth Ibarra makes the bizarre claim that “ICE offers perverse incentives for struggling communities like Yuba County to house detainees in substandard conditions for financial benefits.” Ibarra twists the truth and forgets that in the real world money buys food and care.

When Yuba County first offered space for ICE inmates it was at the completion of a new jail expansion in early 1995. The fact is detention centers and jails are located in communities up and down the state that take ICE detainees.

            No protesting detainee really got hungry.  Inmates began by refusing their 3 meals-per-day but ate commissary foods instead. Then, those that had court out of town during the week ate lunch there as well. This is not fasting here but rather making a show by turning down the jail cuisine that is highly regarded by inmates and that correctional officers eat as well.

            As for medical and dental, where can the common citizen go for help under Obamacare to compare with the 24 hr. medical service for inmates and if necessary Adventist Health a few blocks away?

            What is ignored in media coverage and in the comments of activists is the fact that most if not all of these inmates can be released if they agree to deportation. They have served time for criminal acts and now what is in question is their legal status to remain in the U.S. They are here until their court proceedings are complete which can be months or years of waiting and appealing.

             One inmate living locally after serving 3 years federal time for transporting kilos of heroin and then 8 months in Yuba County Jail appealing her immigration case said Yuba was a great place to be held, officers treated her like a person and she was able to start a new life.

            Sheriff Wendell Anderson distributed a detailed news release listing crimes by category of ICE detainees in custody. If they had not committed these crimes they would not have deportation issues.

Of 177 ICE inmates the following are some of the crimes they served time for - Murder (12), Attempted murder (3), Aggravated assault (14), Robbery (14), Burglary (11), Theft (9), Weapons (7), Auto theft (9), Child molest (5), Child abuse (2), Sexual exploitation of minor or indecency (3), Drug trafficking (12), DUI’s 1 or more (15), Domestic violence (9), Rape (2), Sexual assault (3), Kidnapping (1), Weapons (7).

Many say that ICE is broken. That responsibility resides with Congress. President Trump wants to hire many more judges to expedite the long judicial waits.

The Obama Administration stopped ICE inmates from being trustees. That ruling made their stay more difficult, more restrictive and needs reversing. Finally, Ice / Homeland security employees are embedded in the jail specifically to serve the needs of those inmates.

The objective of activists and protests is to eliminate borders and what we know as citizenship. Any opportunity is taken whether at detention facilities or in assaults on the border using children as pawns to make common immigration rules seem unjust.

by Lou Binninger

            Patrick McGreevy’s article in the LA Times last week continues to draw attention to the lawlessness exhibited by agencies, along with city and county governments when it comes to using the taxpayers’ money for political campaigns.

            Alice Germond, chairwoman of the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), and other FPPC members are requesting to expand their prosecutorial powers so they can act when district attorneys do not.

            “We want the opportunity to take action when public money is misused,” Germond said. “Californians expect our tax dollars to be used appropriately and when that is not the case, I want to be able send a strong message on behalf of our citizens. And I want to set a clear precedent that such behavior is unacceptable.”

An FPPC study indicated that since 2015, the agency received 34 allegations of public agencies misusing taxpayer funds for campaign purposes, including mass mailings. However, “The Enforcement Division is not aware of any actions brought by state or local prosecutors related to those cases,” said the report.

Numerous Yuba County taxpayers submitted complaints to the FPPC about county government using hundreds of thousands of dollars for political mass mailings, robo-calls, biased signage etc. during the Measure K tax increase campaign.

The FPPC has appeared double-minded as it rejected and then accepted then stopped and now restarted investigations into the pro-Measure K abuse of tax dollars. The Governor’s, Attorney General’s and FPPC offices were all pointing fingers at each other for whom is responsible to prosecute theft from the public treasury for political gain.

According to the FPPC, it looks like the one key group that universally passes on prosecuting wrong-doing has been local district attorneys who benefit from government largess. Certainly as mentioned in an earlier column FPPC penalties averaging less than $5000 per incident will never dissuade wrong doing when the benefits of lawlessness add up to millions each year. In Measure K’s case the district attorney actually promoted the effort.

Commissioner Brian Hatch said the illegal activity is widespread. “There has been plenty of it, but they choose not to bring charges,” he said of county prosecutors.

Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA), said he has been complaining about the issue for three decades.

“It is so epidemic, we do not have the resources to track and respond to every one,” Coupal said, adding that district attorneys and the state attorney general are busy with violent crimes that are a higher priority for them. “If the FPPC steps up, that would be a good thing for taxpayers and, quite frankly, good for transparent government.”

HJTA filed a complaint that resulted in the FPPC conducting an investigation and issuing a finding of probable cause in 2018 that Los Angeles County failed to properly report paying to run television ads in support of a homeless services tax ballot measure the year before.

Since the FPPC says it lacks jurisdiction to prosecute for misuse of public funds, it found that members of the Board of Supervisors violated a separate law by not reporting political expenditures for advertising supporting Measure H, a quarter-cent increase in the sales tax.

Meanwhile, the California State Association of Counties sued to challenge the FPPC’s authority to pursue enforcement action. And, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office has not announced any action on the allegations, and declined to comment on whether it is investigating.

Coupal is not surprised, “The district attorney gets their budget from the county and the county was the defendant,” he said.

The FPPC needs a two-thirds vote by the legislature to add to its responsibilities and prosecutorial powers.

Meanwhile back in Yuba County, Tuesday February 19th was a deadline for Yuba County to respond to a citizens’ lawsuit contesting the legality of the Measure K Ballot language according to postings in the newspaper.

by Lou Binninger

In a June 25, 2018 letter addressed to judges Brian Aronson and Sarah Heckman, the Sutter County Grand Jurors resigned in protest saying “… we were prevented from fulfilling our duty as watchdog for Sutter County.”

Their 2017-18 report due by the end of June had twice been rejected and edited by Judge Aronson, so 17 members of the Grand Jury (GJ) walked-out after refusing to sign the Aronson version. The GJ report traditionally is released to the public before June 30 following jury members signing the document and before a new jury is impaneled.

Judge Aronson took the oversight of the jury from Judge Sarah Heckman mid-stream as troubles developed with the unsavory content of the report. Meanwhile, Judge Aronson was running for another four-year term on the Superior Court bench.

Being unopposed, Aronson won the June primary but just 120 days later after twice refusing to approve the Grand Jury’s version of its investigations withdrew from serving his fifth four-year term beginning January 1, 2019. Minus the GJ fiasco, the “retirement” would be considered strange and erratic short of a major health crisis. What changed for the judge in 120 days?

 The Aronson move certainly deprived the voters of the opportunity to choose the next judge.

The official massaged explanation for the GJ report not being released to the public (the little people) was that jury members refused to sign the document. That’s kind of like saying she got pregnant from using the drinking fountain. However, Sutter County department heads, Supervisors, City of Yuba City officials and a few privileged ones, the local aristocracy, got a copy.

GJ members swear an oath of confidentiality or secrecy regarding the proceedings and that is currently restraining them from exposing wrong-doing, unethical and possible criminal behavior on the part of local officials.

Is that the purpose of the oath and should people be manipulated by oaths to conceal criminal or crooked acts? Not some, but all jury members resigned rather than sign Aronson’s “doctored” report.

The Valparaiso University Spring 1989 Law Review, “Grand Jury Secrecy  v. The First Amendment: A Case for Press Interviews of Grand Jurors” gives numerous reasons why GJ secrecy should not be ironclad.

“Attempting to justify grand jury secrecy from the defendant's view-point, such as the protection of individuals groundlessly accused, is unconvincing. Grand jury secrecy is not designed for the benefit of the defendant. In England, the argument that the grand jury might protect the accused from oppression was not convincing enough to keep the grand jury from being abolished. In America, the press routinely reports on individuals named in lawsuits or charged with criminal offenses, despite the fact that many of these actions do not result in the assessment of liability or a criminal conviction.” (America’s Grand Jury was modeled after England’s.)

“Perhaps this reporting occurs partly because our judicial system is founded on the concept that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. A grand jury indictment (or finding – author added) is nothing more than an accusation. Obviously some individuals ignore this concept. When all considerations are taken into account, however, the attempted protection of falsely accused individuals is insufficient to warrant maintaining such a hard line on secrecy that press interviews of grand jurors are forever prohibited.”

The Valparaiso Review then addresses abuse and manipulation by prosecutors, “One of the major reasons for advocating press access to grand jurors is to combat the well-documented and numerous instances of abuse that strict secrecy has produced. The grand jury, often esteemed as a bulwark of freedom, is commonly and unethically manipulated by prosecutors in order to benefit his or her own personal motives.”

“Recognizing the potential for abuse, Supreme Court Justice Douglas included in a dissent former U.S. District Court Judge William Campbell's telling statement: ‘Any experienced prosecutor will admit that he can indict anybody at any time for almost anything before any grand jury. Thus, secrecy is a tempting invitation to prosecutors to indict whomever they choose and thereby make a mockery of justice. Recognizing these problems, the Supreme Court has stated that the Constitution should not tolerate the transformation of the grand jury into an instrument of oppression. This warning has not stopped the abuse.”

In Sutter County’s case the GJ’s investigation of the District Attorney and the County Counsel’s misbehavior along with other governing misdeeds are the crux of Judge Aronson’s move to conceal, manipulate, protect, and oppress, thus bringing a mockery to Sutter County governance.

by Lou Binninger

Liberals seem to be competing for the title of most committed baby killer. At one time in America there was no right to kill a small human. It was a crime.

Then, the 1973 Supreme Court ruled it could happen sometimes and then expanded the “right” to kill to all the time up to and during birth. Not to be outdone, former California Senator Barbara Boxer said that possibly the right to end the life of a newborn should extend 1-2 weeks after birth. Parents may experience birthing remorse.

             In 1993, ethicist and later Princeton Professor Peter Singer shocked many Americans by suggesting that no newborn should be considered a person until 30-days after birth and that the attending physician should kill some disabled babies on the spot.

            In 1979 Singer wrote, “Human babies are not born self-aware, or capable of grasping that they exist over time. They are not persons”; therefore, “the life of a newborn is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog, or a chimpanzee.”

            This liberal thought is a return to “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” A low view of human life was one of Rome’s pagan depravities. At the advent of the early church, Greeks and Romans were infamous for infanticide. Those born deformed or frail were often killed by drowning and others more brutally.

            Plutarch (A.D.46-120) mentions that Carthaginians “offered up their own children, and those who had no children would buy little ones from poor people and cut their throats as if they were so many lambs or young birds; meanwhile the mother stood by without a tear or moan.”  Infant girls were especially vulnerable where for instance in Greece it was rare for even wealthy families to raise more than one daughter.

            Large families were atypical in Greco-Roman society in part due to infanticide. So common was the practice that Polybius (205?-118 B.C.) blamed the population decline of Greece on it.

            Infanticide was also practiced in India, China, Japan, the Brazilian jungles and also among the Eskimos. James Dennis in the 1890’s wrote that it was a common practice in regions of Africa and was well-known among the indigenous people of North and South America before European settlers with Christian values outlawed it.

            Along with the common practice of abortion Christians considered Greco-Roman infanticide to be murder. These early societies also practiced child abandonment where infants were tossed in rivers, manure piles, dumped on roadsides, offered to prey or left where others might take them up.

            Historical data reveals that rather than poverty being the cause for a high Roman abortion rate it was that honor and respect for marriage was gone among Romans.  “Marriage, depraved of all moral character was no longer a sacred bond, and alliance of souls.”

            When early Christians came to Rome from Jerusalem and parts of Asia Minor they defied Rome’s pagan disregard for life.  Romans considered the person valuable only if he could contribute to the political arena and benefit the state.

Christians, like their Jewish ancestors saw humans as the crown of God’s creation; believing mankind was made in the image of God. Human life was not cheap and expendable but was to be honored and protected at all costs regardless of its form or quality. Christians rescued and raised discarded infants.

Today, many western nations are not birthing enough children to replenish their populations. Singapore and Russia are now offering bonuses for births to bolster their shrinking numbers. China recently reversed its one child policy because families aborted their females preferring a male. Now, there is a severe shortage of females for marriage leading to the trafficking of ladies from nearby nations.

However, in contrast to modern states, but in keeping with its Biblical roots, Israel is having a baby boom. It has the highest per capita rate of population growth in the developed world. Jewish families have an average of 3.1 children compared to 1.7 in other developed countries (US 1.9).

Israel’s policy is pro-child and pro-family. At this birthrate, by 2050 Israel’s population will increase from 8.7 million to 15 million. Israelis want to keep a demographic dominance in the region and replace the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust.

While the U.S. media and the political left celebrate the murder of vulnerable babies, Israel is promoting life.

by Lou Binninger

If you are looking for a well-run California agency they are harder to find than Charles Darwin’s missing link. You need to pack lunch, dinner and your meds to get through the Department of Motor Vehicles wait. DMV is so incompetent that it registered thousands of people ineligible to vote. Although the DMV director quit don’t expect improvement from Deep State workers.

How about the Department of Water Resources (DWR)? Do you realize contractors are still working on the Oroville Dam? If it wasn’t for Butte County Sheriff Honea taking command, downstream residents would have been clueless about evacuating after the spillway breach occurred on February 7, 2017. The DWR acted like “Keystone Cops” during the crisis after decades of negligence, incompetence and “Band-Aid-Style” or “Blind-Eye” maintenance.

Costs to repair the Oroville Dam spillway are now estimated at $1.1 billion — a $455-million increase from initial estimates says the DWR.

The spiking costs are blamed on design changes that have been made over the last 18 months and damage to the facility that was far more extensive than initially presumed. The neglected dam was doomed.

How about the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC)? This is a sibling of the corrupt California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) that protects utility monopolies. The FPPC is supposed to enforce political campaign laws.

Galena West has been director of the Enforcement Division since June 2015. The FPPC website states that “Under West’s leadership, the Enforcement Division set a record year in 2015, with 333 cases resulting in .......over $700,000 in fines. And for the first time in its history, West’s team successfully prosecuted a case of first impression concerning contributions made by a foreign source against a local initiative, which resulted in one of the most significant fines in recent years. This case was successfully prosecuted by the FPPC after federal regulators were unable to act. This not only resulted in a $61,500 fine, but more importantly sent a strong message that under West’s leadership the Enforcement Division will not shy away from difficult cases and is prepared to aggressively prosecute such activity.”

The FPPC collected $700,000 for 333 violations in 2015, a record. What? The FPPC is a total waste of time and money. That is an average of $2,100 fine per violation. In 2016, the FPPC had 311 enforcement orders imposing nearly $900,000 in fines or just $2,893 each. For 2017, there were 340 settlements and $1.1 million in fines or $3,235 each. In 2018, there were 235 settlements of $499,606 or $2,125 each.

That is chump change and no deterrent to wrong doing. Did anyone go to jail? It actually pays to break campaign laws to accomplish political objectives with a wink and a small tip for the FPPC.

The costs to fund the FPPC amount to white collar welfare. In 2017‑18, FPPC’s budget was $12.4 million ($11.7 million from the General Fund and $741,000 from reimbursements) and included 82.5 employee positions. FPPC got a $567,000 budget increase in 2018-19.

If you file a complaint, though the website does not indicate this, the complainant has to investigate his own accusation and submit evidence to the FPPC. What does FPPC do? Peruse the evidence submitted and do little or nothing. The FPPC claims Galena West is an aggressive legal bulldog not avoiding the difficult cases. No, she’s more like a “companion” that licks the perpetrators.

Government Code Section 8314 reads, “It is unlawful for any elected state or local officer, including any state or local appointee, employee, or consultant, to use or permit others to use public resources for a campaign activity, or personal or other purposes which are not authorized by law.”

The law reflects the principle that it is unfair and undemocratic for officials to use taxpayers’ money for self-serving political campaigns. However, California officials are doing exactly that with little fear of being pursued by prosecutors or the FPPC.

With Measure K (increasing sales tax), Yuba County supervisors plundered the citizenry by spending hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to groom voters via a marketing campaign to tax themselves. Then supervisors claim the abuse was consensual. And, the now retired district attorney (legal watchdog) campaigned for the tax.

It all makes sense now. The FPPC workers are squirt gun-packing cops. Yuba taxpayers were intentionally hustled from the start by their county government and marketing firms knowing the FPPC is impotent.

Build another bicycle trail with the FPPC budget.

by Lou Binninger

In the 1950s - 60s, California schools were tops in the nation. Today, California is a habitual underperformer, way below the national average, a bottom feeder of the industry. How the mighty have fallen.

Politicians and union raconteurs say it’s all about the money. Government schools need more money and better facilities they say. And, schools are faced with poor children, addict parents, absentee fathers and non-English speaking households to overcome. Good teachers, but lousy parents they say.

In 1997, Doug Escheman, became principal of Mary Covillaud Elementary School founded in 1858. Located in downtown Marysville, Escheman discovered the K-5 school performing horribly. In math and reading, only 1 of 7 students functioned at grade level.

Even in 1999 on the state Academic Performance Index (API), of all state government schools, 10 being the highest, Covillaud ranked a 2. Teachers said it’s due to all these incompetent kids, parents and poverty. However, when compared with schools of the same demographics, Covillaud still ranked 2. Covillaud scored 536 on the API when good would be 800.

Talk of the school was full of justifications for failure. Poor kids, pathetic parents, pitiful performance. What would you do if you were principal?

An old paperback, “No Excuses – Lessons from 21 High Performance High Poverty Schools,” sits on the corner of Escheman’s desk. It’s been there for years.

Contrary to state and district policy Escheman moved Spanish-speaking students from segregated classrooms to learn with other children. Today, more than 45% of his students are Latino with about 37% white, 7.4% multi-ethnic and 5.6% Black.

Yes, there is American-style poverty, some homeless kids and a transient population. The school distributes $15-30 thousand in clothes to students each year. However, the school is now rich with family-building, student-encouraging extra-curricular activities. Covillaud students are now succeeding.

Covillaud’s mission statement today is “All learners will learn.” In other words, no child will be left behind, for real, not rhetoric. Twice each day, for 25 minutes, teachers divert from their planned curriculum to focus on where each student is not thriving. Those weak spots are corrected. Those on task receive enrichment instruction.

Escheman says his school is now a Professional Learning Community (PLC). The late education guru Richard DuFour stated that initiating and sustaining a PLC "requires the school staff to focus on learning rather than teaching, work collaboratively on matters related to learning, and hold itself accountable for the kind of results that fuel continual improvement."

That’s Mary Covillaud today. What counts is what is learned, not what a school district says is taught. Teachers understand what students are to know at each grade level and then are expected to get them there.

Escheman says that great teachers have been attracted to the school wanting to do what they love, see children thrive and be a part of a successful education mission.

Mary Covillaud has been Marysville Joint Unified School District’s best kept secret. By 2002 the school ranked with top schools but did not submit an application for state recognition. Covillaud was noted as a California Distinguished School in 2006. Between 1999 and today scores have continued to rise.

In 2018-19, Covillaud was recognized as one of only four schools north of Sacramento to be a Distinguished School and scored the highest of the four. Covillaud is also an Honor Role School meaning it is among the top 25% of all schools in the state.

Escheman says that incorporating weekly Character First training beginning in 1999 helped students focus, behave and learn. Discipline issues are minimal with only 2 students suspended so far this year.

Of the school’s 510 students more than 40% have transferred in from other areas and districts. They didn’t come for the facilities. Covillaud has the 2nd worst infrastructure in the district including numerous stress fractures in its newest old building.

On November 4, 2008 district voters agreed to borrow $47 million to construct new buildings throughout the district. Covillaud parents were promised a new playground, a 2-story classroom, an administrative office modernization and new parking lots. Although classrooms, gyms and playgrounds were installed in school after school, Covillaud was ignored.

In fact, you will find no 2018-19 Distinguished School banner in the District boardroom or a news release or proclamation celebrating the extraordinary accomplishment of the teachers and support personnel of Covillaud.

The Escheman era is nearly over. The question is how long will it take for the school to resemble the rest of the underperforming district when he retires. In the meantime, parents count your blessings with the Covillaud School staff.

by Lou Bininger

PG and E once was popular around Yuba-Sutter Counties. Most people knew the local manager. The company was very involved in the community similar to Recology (Waste Management Company) today. Then, like other large corporations they reorganized how they did business and became more aloof from customers.

Though the state has a glut of oil, natural gas and hydropower, utility rates went way up rather than down. State global warming regulations added to the pay-more-for-less utility world. Today, some surveys show PG and E rates 60% higher than the national average.

Then PG and E got into social engineering. In November 2008 there was a measure on the ballot to create an amendment to the State Constitution stating that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. It passed with 52.24% of vote. Earlier in May of that year a majority of Supreme Court Justices had ruled that same-sex marriage was a constitutionally-protected right in California.

California first explicitly defined marriage in 1977. The California State Legislature passed a law declaring that marriage is a “personal relation arising out of a civil contract between a man and a woman.”

In 2000, voters passed ballot initiative Proposition 22 with a margin of 61%, formally defining marriage in California as between a man and a woman. Proposition 22 was a statutory change via the initiative process, not a constitutional change.

Then in 2004, San Francisco Mayor (now Governor) Gavin Newsom performed same-sex marriages in his city, which were subsequently judicially annulled. This case, and some others, eventually led to the decision announced on May 15, 2008 of the California Supreme Court, which by a 4-3 vote reversed Proposition 22.

So, in the campaign against the traditional belief of what marriage was PG and E spent $250,000 of ratepayers’ money to defeat Proposition 8. The utility monopoly supported same sex marriage.

Let’s say that was a blow to PG and E’s stellar image for some Californians. Then, September 9, 2010, a natural gas pipeline exploded in San Bruno, CA leveling 35 homes, killing 8 and injuring more than 50. A federal jury found the company guilty of obstructing justice by lying to regulators about its pipeline-testing policy. PG&E was also accused of collaborating with a top state regulator (California Public Utility Commission) to find a judge who would be friendly to the company.

Since then, there have been dozens of horrific fires, hundreds of deaths, hundreds of thousands of acres burned, tens of thousands of structures destroyed, and hundreds of thousands of people displaced. Early indication is that PG and E is at fault. Meantime, customers are hit with high rates, then higher rates to absorb the damage settlements and finally the cost of evacuating and in many cases losing homes and loved ones.

In other utility news Governor Newsome wants to tax drinking water to clean-up some tainted water in a few areas around the state. But Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association said he thinks improvements for water systems shouldn’t be addressed with a new tax when the state is sitting on a $14.8 billion budget surplus.

Speaking of water and taxes, the ballot initiative banned by the board of Yuba County Water Agency was rejected because they say it would have amounted to an unlawful tax on about 100 farmers making millions off selling water. The initiative would have shared some of the revenue collected off Agency water and power sales with all of Yuba County citizens.

Most Yuba County voters wouldn’t agree that a few people “own the water” since those making millions didn’t produce the water to sell. The farmers / water pumpers along with Agency leaders manipulated control and sales benefits to favor a few. Voters would believe that they indeed are being deprived of their rightful benefit (are being taxed) for corporate welfare parlayed to farmers.

Yuba County voters made the decision over 50-years back to borrow money for Bullards Bar Dam and guaranteed payment of the bonds.

The Agency is rewriting history by downplaying the election to permit the sale of bonds and minimizing the annual transfer of $400,000 or more in property taxes (the people’s assets) for 50 years to operate the Agency. The hindsight contrived argument that there was no risk with the bonds since PG and E would get the hydro-power and make the payments is foolish.

PG and E nearly went bankrupt once and probably will now due to negligence and mismanagement. Thankfully, Yuba County dodged a financial bullet by PG and E paying off the bonds in 2016.

by Lou Binninger

Liberals once joined with conservatives to fund hundreds of miles of border wall and security. However, they refuse to do so today. President Trump is asking for $5.7 billion for increased border security to stop drug and human trafficking and deter future onslaughts of illegals on border defenses.

For perspective, Trump is asking for $5.7 billion of a $4.407 trillion budget which works out to $57 of a $44,070 household budget. So, someone compared the liberal argument against the wall to a husband saying to his wife, “We aren’t going to work or pay our bills until you give- up the idea of spending $57 to fence our yard to protect the children.”

The harangue that walls don’t work or are immoral is silly. The Pope, George Soros, Paul Ryan, the Obamas and Clintons, most wealthy and well-known people have amazing barriers and armed security personnel. The 2016 Democratic Convention and Hollywood’s Academy Awards employed fences, guards and ID clearances to gain entrance.

Israel’s concrete and steel razor-wire topped barriers combined with technology and observation towers have achieved 100% effectiveness in stopping illegal entrance. The Guantanamo Bay facility detaining the world’s most heinous terrorists is surrounded by barbed and razor wire fences and armed military.

The populist-nationalist Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, decided to fully guard his country’s borders with a fence as a response to the continent’s Muslim migrant crisis. Likewise, Bulgaria erected a fence on the Bulgarian-Turkish border to prevent illegal immigration. Both barriers are lined along the top with barbed wire and guarded by armed patrol. Walls work.

In America, prisons, most schools, nuclear power plants, military bases and many governors’ mansions are protected with walls and barriers. Most homes have fences to keep people and creatures out and in. Enough already about fences not working or being immoral.

The provocative aspect of the border controversy is that a large percentage of border crashers are criminals. They again violate the law entering the country and they continue ignoring laws and regulations once here. Gang members, drug and sex traffickers, child molesters, murderers and thieves are flooding in. International terrorist groups have compounds in Mexican border cities, as well.

Americans are not angels. However, this society is far more law abiding than where the average illegal alien hails from. They live differently than here.

Mexico is looking out of control lately as journalists and politicians are routinely assassinated, nationally-owned fuel supplies are being sabotaged and stolen so much so that gas is in short supply. People are abducted off the street, held for ransom and shortly shot if the cash is not forthcoming. Teens, rather than working at fast foods can package heroin, cocaine and meth in factories.

Some of the nations with the highest 2017 murder rates are contributing their residents to America. Ranked by the murders per 100,000 people, rated 1 to 3 are El Salvador - 108.64, Honduras - 63.75 and Venezuela 57.15. Number 9 is Guatemala at 31.21 and number 12 is Brazil 26.7. Mexico at 16.35 is 20th in the world.

Gang activity is credited for 6 of 10 murders in El Salvador. In Honduras, gangs are a factor, but also violence against women and LGBT groups is often normalized as part of a “machista” culture.

Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, is known as one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Gang activity and drug trafficking are major problems leading to Guatemalan homicides.

The Mexican border city of Tijuana scored a record 2,506 murders in 2018. With 1.8 million residents TJ is one of Mexico’s most violent cities. Law enforcement says most of the deaths are related to the drug trade.

Of the 198 nations rated by World Atlas the United State was 81st with 4.88 murders per 100,000 people.

Finally, Amnesty International claims 6 out of every 10 female caravan members headed to the U.S. through Mexico encounter sexual abuse. In the six month period between September 2008 and March 2009, 9,758 migrants were kidnapped, many of whom said that public officials and police officers were either involved or complicit in the kidnapping. What?

Not only are migrants the targets of abuse, kidnapping, and human trafficking, but migrant defenders are also targeted as they try to protect the human rights of this at-risk population.

Does the U.S. want to welcome just anyone from a culture willing to sexually assault vulnerable women and children travelers on the road or even once they are detained by the border patrol? Could you envision 60% of a caravan of ladies and minors moving through the U.S to Mexico being kidnapped and/or sexually assaulted in route by Americans? Think about it.

Do you lock your doors at night? Why? Maybe you like to vet whoever knocks.

by Lou Binninger

It’s not a happy day when citizens watch government workers killing time and bureaucrats bungling away their hard-earned tax dollars.

As Marysville City government campaigned twice to finally get a 1% sales tax increase to shore-up slumping revenues in 2016, residents then learned that the City Services Director neglected to file twelve Water Resources quarterly reports. The state fined the city $3 million. The Director is now comfortably retired after his misdeed with no personal consequences.

The City’s attorneys Rich Fuidge Lane and Bordsen, on retainer for about $10,000 a month, then hired an outside attorney to negotiate a deal with the state. In June 2017, the state agreed to a reduced $288,000 fine with one-half going to improve the water quality of Ellis Lake. Now 2019, there is no sign of Ellis Lake progress.

Last week, City Attorney Brant Bordsen notified the Council of another settlement, this time to pay RGW Construction $575,000 from monies in the sewer fund --- not for completing a waste water project but for not finishing it.

The Council approved the payment. With Marysville households making sewage payments of $36.80 per month the settlement equals 15,625 payments for government malfeasance. That combined with Cal Water Service rates 300% higher than Linda, Olivehurst and Yuba City is a joy buster.

RGW was hired on February 9, 2015 to connect the Marysville sewage infrastructure to the Linda Water Treatment Plant. The contract was for $5,230,975. “During the course of the project the City encountered delays in obtaining necessary permits from the Corps of Engineers. As a consequence, RGW was delayed in its ability to proceed with the project. Ultimately, the City determined it was in its best interest to terminate the contract with RGW for its convenience,” wrote City Attorney Bordsen.

RGW then submitted claims for the delays in construction and costs connected to the termination of the contract. As RGW and the City could not reach an agreement RGW filed a lawsuit in Yuba County Superior Court.

RGW sought $1,138,101.29 and settled in mediation for $575,000 prior to going to trial. To the lowly taxpayer, two government entities, the City and/or the Corps of Engineers failed them miserably. Was any government employee dismissed? Who takes responsibility? No apology, nothing.

What was the $575,000 in the sewer fund to be used for? Were citizens being overcharged on sewage rates? And will sewage rates now be increased to reward government incompetence?

It is amazing that high paid City administrators, consultants and City attorneys cannot execute a contract with its appropriate permits without taxpayers being penalized $575,000. Maybe we need another 1% sales tax increase for public safety.

By Lou Binninger

Starbucks Corporation says that anyone is welcome in their outlets. That’s a utopian world away from “No shirt, no shoes, no service” or “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.”

In the recent past, restaurants (along with other enterprises) had some common decency rules for patrons. The minimal standard acknowledged the fact that others had paid to enjoy the product and premises, as well. Unseemly behavior would not be allowed to rule the establishment.

Not so Starbucks. At the Marysville outlet the homeless are encouraged to use the facilities. Aware of the Starbucks everything-goes policy, folks drop-in to use the restroom, bathe and inject drugs.

Security patrol people hired by the adjacent businesses in the complex to stop aggressive behavior and theft are asked by Starbucks to leave panhandlers and hustlers alone and not enter the coffee outlet themselves.

Last week, a customer in the Marysville Starbucks posted on Facebook that two homeless folks were misbehaving. The employees were stumped for what to do, so the patron called Marysville Police. She was the only “adult” in the room.

Starbucks may need to do some de-escalation of force and verbal judo training for their baristas and then raise pay for serving on the front line.

Liberals can be business savvy, but fail miserably when managing a city, state or country. In this case, Starbucks is moving from convincing people to pay extraordinary prices for fattening drinks to social engineering – convincing patrons to feel good about getting coffee while the guy who just shot-up wets himself in the next seat.

Starbucks workers are reacting to being expected to make a Green Tea “Al Pacino” while fretting about a child or lady heading to the bathroom and wondering if it became a “shooting gallery” or one big urinal since the last time they checked.

Baristas complain that the restrooms are beset with gnarly trash, used needles and unsanitary conditions. Employees wonder if they could acquire a disease from working there.

A petition of employees on Coworker.org of 3,700 signatures urged Starbucks to install needle-disposal boxes in store restrooms where the population is known to have high rates of Hepatitis and HIV. The coffee conglomerate is responding by adding the boxes in some outlets. This is liberals pooling their ignorance.

If fast food outlets can’t get sober patrons to dispose of trash properly how can an addict, mindless after shooting meth, cocaine or opiates tidy-up and tuck their rig into a sharps box? And, are those cleaning-up after them now handing the coffee through the take-out window?

Of course, this is the same thinking that led to the “Crap App” on phones to navigate the piles of human feces on the streets of San Francisco (SF). “Port-a-Potties” for street people in SF are often used to shoot drugs and engage in sex, as well. Does anyone remember the SF light pole that fell across the intersection after urine eroded its metal base? The liberal solution is urine resistant light standards.

The same spirit of nonsense possessed the federal judge who found justification in the 8th Amendment to force taxpayers to either fully fund homeless people or let them violate the law. The judge does not likely live in a city ruled by the chaos created by his ruling.

Starbucks’ future depends on the quality experience it does or does not provide its customers. Businesses come and go.

The homeless phenomenon is a product of the modern welfare state. Government socialist policies are creating it and taking more and more tax dollars to manage it. It’s like fighting obesity by eating more and moving less.

Meanwhile, if cities cannot manage an unruly population the more stable folk will quietly leave for less chaotic and safer places. Many local higher paid government workers (administrators and public safety people) have already done just that. They choose to live in better-run cities elsewhere while working here.

So far in the last 12 months, local acquaintances joining the Calizuela Diaspora have moved to Nevada, Idaho, Texas, Tennessee, Arizona, Oregon, Missouri and Washington.

by Lou Binninger

Those graduating from high school this year were not alive when Al Qaeda terrorists bombed the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen on October 12, 2000. Nor have students been told the truth by government schools and the main stream media that Muslims have been on a terror rampage since the Munich, Germany Summer Olympics in 1972.

In 2017, a call for assistance for a young suicidal naval veteran was a reminder that the damage on the USS Cole was not limited to 17 fatalities and 40 injured. The young man in crisis once stood guard in the ship for hours among his dead shipmates until the scene could be processed. Seventeen years later he was still struggling to survive the experience.

Four killed that day were in their early thirties while 13 of the dead were just 19-24 years old. Family members suffer to this day and search for any morsel of comfort from the lingering investigation and court proceedings.

So, President Trump’s mention that on January 1, 2019 the US military killed Jamal al-Badawi, the Yemeni terrorist accused of leading the attack, was bitter-sweet relief for those grieving their loss.

Trump’s tweet read, “Our GREAT MILITARY has delivered justice for the heroes lost and wounded in the cowardly attack on the USS Cole. We have just killed the leader of that attack, Jamal al-Badawi.”

The ship had been refueling in the Yemeni Port of Aden when attacked. A small boat carrying C4 explosives and two suicide bombers rammed the port side of the destroyer creating a huge gash. Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden celebrated the attack which occurred just one year prior to the September 11, 2001 multi-faceted terrorist strike on the US.

A U.S. Grand Jury indicted Badawi in 2003 for his part in the bombing and charged him with 50 counts of terrorism-related offenses, including the murder of American citizens and U.S. military personnel.

In April 2003, Pakistani officials arrested suspected USS Cole attack planner Walid bin Attash.

Yemeni authorities held Badawi until April 2003 when he escaped. In March 2004 he was recaptured but fled again in February 2006. The FBI offered a reward of $5 million for information leading to his capture. The January 1 strike killed him while driving alone east of the Yemeni capital of San’a.

Five men accused in Yemeni court in July 2004 were al-Badawi, Maamoun Msouh, Fahd al-Quso, Ali Mohamed Saleh and Murad al-Sirouri. Abd Al-Nashiri, mastermind of the attack, was to be tried in absentia since he was detained at Guantanamo Bay. The judge also named the two suicide bombers for the first time, Ibrahim al-Thawr and Abdullah al-Misawa. Al-Nashiri was sentenced by a Yemeni court to death though still in American custody.

On July 16, 2004, family members of the sailors killed filed a lawsuit against Sudan for more than $100 million, alleging the Sudanese government provided support that enabled the al Qaeda attack. On March 14, 2007 US District Judge Doumar found Sudan liable for the USS Cole attacks and ordered Sudan to pay $8 million to the families.

In 2010, fifteen injured sailors and three surviving spouses filed a federal lawsuit making similar claims against the Sudanese government. The plaintiffs accused the Republic of Sudan of funding, training and giving additional support to al Qaeda. They sought assets in Sudanese banks to compensate for the injuries and deaths.

On March 30, 2012, the US District Court issued a final judgment awarding $314,705,896 in compensatory and punitive damages to the plaintiffs. On September 23, 2015, the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals denied the Sudanese government's appeal and ordered Sudanese bank assets to be turned over to family members.

The bitter irony is that since 1955 the U.S. has been the world’s largest source of aid to Sudan. In fiscal year 2008-2009 alone the US gave Sudan $ 901 million. That is painful for families that see their tax dollars assisting a government complicit in the murder of their loves ones.

More than $50 billion annually is spent in foreign aid including funds to many nations unfriendly to the US. This makes no sense especially when liberals say that spending $5 billion for a wall to protect Americans on our southern border is a bad value.

by Lou Binninger

There is an uptick in news about sales tax measures and bonds being promoted by government to bail-out politicians and budgets. These efforts are temporary fixes to overspending since the real problems are a corrupt state pension system and unaffordable government-run healthcare. Another seldom noted nemesis is a Calizuela state government that is adding mandates while bleeding tax money from poorer rural counties.

Read the informative article by Jon Coupal, President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association in this paper and a Cal Matters Dan Walter’s piece “Finally, a crackdown on misuse of taxpayer money” in the Appeal Democrat.

Both articles address the fact that though there are laws to prevent an abuse of power by government usurping the Constitutional rights of its citizens, if there is no enforcement of the law then the law is impotent and rights are lost.

The FPPC (Fair Political Practices Commission) recently voted unanimously to impose a $7,500 fine on BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) for not reporting its spending on a bond issue as a campaign contribution. The violation involves the pitching of a $3.5 billion bond issue to voters. The fine is chump change to BART and an encouragement to ignore the law once again.

The FPPC asked the State Attorney General and Bay Area district attorneys to prosecute BART for violating the law prohibiting the use of public funds for political campaigns. Earlier, Los Angeles County was also cited by the FPPC for misuse of taxpayer funds in an election campaign.

Locally, numerous Yuba County citizens filed complaints with the FPPC accusing County Supervisors of inappropriate use of public funds for the Measure K campaign to raise sales taxes to 8.25%. The initial FPPC response was to request evidence to support accusations of those residents filing complaints. That information has now been submitted.

If the FPPC finds Yuba County at fault in its advocacy of Measure K then who will enforce and prosecute this violation - the FPPC, The Attorney General (AG), the Yuba County District Attorney (DA)?

The FPPC can fine but in Yuba County’s case will taxpayers’ funds be used to pay the amount? That public loses again. In LA County there is a request to prosecute supervisors individually. Per capita, Yuba County spent more money on its measure than did LA.

The AG’s office has not been a factor in helping when requested in our rural counties. Would the DA’s office pursue Yuba County for misuse of public funds? Not likely, since DA Pat McGrath (now retired) was a spokesperson for Measure K.

Some have confused the lawsuit filed against the county to stop Measure K with the FPPC’s role in legally critiquing the campaign. The legal action by Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk questions the legality of the content of the Measure K ordinance. The FPPC will evaluate the “free speech” violation where government is forbidden from using public funds in a political campaign to raise taxes.

Counties, cities and jurisdictions up and down the state have been violating election laws to financially save their mismanaged ship. Will they be held accountable or will the public lose again?

Prop 218 and Prop 13 requirements on how taxes are raised may go the way of the Brown Act, being useless unless they are sincerely and honestly enforced along with deterrent- level penalties. The Ralph M. Brown Act was passed in 1953 to ensure the public’s right to openness in government and to keep politicians from avoiding public scrutiny. Since the Act has no enforcement powers it has had little to no impact.