Then there is always that other instinctual defense mechanism, the one that doesn't allow you to admit that Sacramento might actually have gotten something right when it comes to school funding. And that they did it in spite of the setbacks it could cause to the ability of their darlings the state and local redevelopment agencies to get their occasionally questionable work done? Momma, who turned out the lights? This from the always excellent Pasadena Sub Rosa news site:
A new law amending the state's existing redevelopment law may make the Pasadena Unified School District's $7.1 million Measure CC Parcel Tax unnecessary after ballots have already been mailed to voters. Under the California Assembly Trailer Bill ABX4-26 enacted last week, redevelopment agencies are now required to divert their funds set aside for affordable housing to local schools.
Reportedly the new state budget legislation adopted by the Legislature and signed by the Governor last week provides for what is being called a "dramatic" take of $2.05 billion of redevelopment funds statewide for public schools ($1.7 billion retroactively for the 2009-10 fiscal year - this year - and $350 million for 2010-11.)
Existing Redevelopment law requires cities to set aside 20% of their tax increment funds for affordable housing. Tax increment Funds are the added property taxes generated from new redevelopment projects. Pasadena has $29.7 million in annual tax increment funds and 20% of that would be $5.94 million. According to the City of Pasadena's website, it has $10,234,320 in its redevelopment affordable housing fund as of 2009-10.
The Pasadena City Council has yet to act on this astonishing new law, with the consequences being that the Pasadena Unified School District has yet to receive any of those desperately needed monies. You can only wonder why they would want to delay. Personally I think they need to get their priorities in order.
(And just so you know, some cities have already begun procedures that will lead to the freeing up of this badly needed funding for public schools. A City of Belmont staff report on the matter can be accessed here.
Once the process gets underway this really will be a double blessing. One because it will pump some badly needed funds into our area public schools. But it also removes a good chunk of available shenanigan money that has been put to such poor purpose in the past. That this redevelopment dough can now be put a far more important and necessary use just seems almost too good to be true. You'd think people would be talking about it more.
And now some unkind words about Proposition 16:
You just have got to love the big utility companies. Their near-monopoly in many parts of this state has made them wealthy beyond the dreams of most corporate empires. And when it comes to protecting their economic suzerains and interests, there isn't a whole lot that they won't do. Including attempting to turn the state constitution and the initiative process on its head.
According to the Sierra Club there is a truly awful proposition on the ballot this June called Proposition 16. Apparently the work of Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), it is an attempt by the goliath energy producer to strangle any possible competition that might arise before it really gets started. And we're talking about such things as municipal and privately owned utility companies, including those who would use such renewable resources as wind and solar power to produce electricity. Here is what the Sierra Club has to say about it:
PG&E wants you to vote for a constitutional amendment that would make it tougher for you to buy cleaner electricity from someone else. The company is the sole sponsor of Proposition 16, a measure on the June ballot that would require two-thirds voter approval before cities, counties, and local power agencies could choose an alternative energy provider. This measure would also prevent existing local utilities, such as City of Alameda, Sacramento, and Silicon Valley Power in Santa Clara, from adding new customers, even within their districts, without first going to the ballot. Although PG&E refers to the measure as "The Taxpayers Right to Vote Act," the measure provides no right to vote on PG&E expansion efforts or on its rates, among the highest in the country.
Nice to see that PG&E has taken a big interest in protecting our right to vote, though honestly I was not aware that there were any looming dangers to this basic American freedom right now. Selfless patriotism just seems so unlike them. And apparently PG&E's kind attentions are not just limited to writing their self-interest into the state constitution.
PG&E frequently states that switching to its competition is risky. Yet PG&E customers risk getting their lights turned off more than those of other utilities. PG&E is cutting service to a staggering number of customers who are missing payments - far more than other utilities.
You can only wonder where their kindness ends. But since they have invested $30 million in helping to pass a proposition that will protect us from cheaper and cleaner energy, you can understand their economic constraints right now. Better to turn off Granny's lights than risk the terror of fair and open competition.
Critics of Proposition 16, including the Sierra Club, consumer advocates like TURN, elected leaders, public power agencies, and newspaper editorial boards see the ballot measure as even more dangerous than PG&E's other anti-competitive efforts. The Sacramento Bee characterized Proposition 16 as a case of "a powerful special interest seizing the initiative process for its own narrow benefit." In a January editorial the paper said, "If Prop 16 passes, it enshrines unfair protections against competition for PG&E, one of the richest, most powerful corporations in the state, into the California Constitution."
Hopefully this one will go down to defeat. Though you always have to take into account the astonishing ability of the voters to cast ballots against their own economic self-interest. You know, like people who might actually believe that Proposition 16 is about protecting your right to vote.
But for me, I'm thinking I will cast a big 'No' vote on this one.