Archive for August, 2010

It appears that Aaron Corp is handling his much publicized transfer from USC to UR very well.

According to the Roanoke Times, Matt Barkley sent a congratulatory text message to Corp upon being named the starter for the Spiders.

The upcoming game against Virginia will be a real test for him.  The Spiders’ offensive line is relatively new due to the graduation of four starters from last year’s team.

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Mayor Villaraigosa is crowing about the recently approved proposal offered by the city to the EAA.

I think it’s more like eating crow.

Let’s see, the EAA members will now cover 5% of their health premiums; the contribution was zero.

The co-pay will go from $10 to $20 per visit.

What’s there to cheer about unless you are a union member or a politician who depends on the unions for support?

Here are some facts: A 2008 survey of the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that employees contributed an average of 19% for single coverage and 29% for family coverage in the private sector. In the public sector, it was 10% and 27%, respectively.  I don’t believe the rates have changed significantly; if anything, they have probably increased.

Regardless of which sector you compare the EAA to, its members got one hell of a deal.

Just imagine – the mayor wants to use the EAA agreement as a model for negotiations with the Coalition of City Unions. 

Such sacrifice.  To paraphrase Winston Churchill: never in the field of labor negotiations has so little been sacrificed by so few to the detriment of so many.

This concession is what Mayor Villaraigosa had the gall to hail as “unprecedented.”

Using the mayor’s own numbers, the annual cost of employee health care is supposed to increase by $153 million over the next five years.  Assuming all unions agree to a 5% contribution, it still means the taxpayers will bear $145 million of the increase.  That’s not much to cheer about.

Maybe the mayor and CAO Santana should have looked to the State of Washington before negotiating the softball contract with the EAA.

Governor Chris Gregoire wants state employees to pay 26%.  They currently pay 12%.

The negotiations will be brutal, but at least Washington is driving a hard bargain and not rolling over as Villaraigosa is.  In any event, Washington state employees will be paying considerably more than Los Angeles city employees.

It makes you wonder why City Hall bothers to negotiate.

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Busy day today.

I appeared on a broadcast of America’s Newsroom around 7:15 this morning Pacific Time.

It was followed by an appearance on the Fox Business Report. However, that segment was very disjointed due to a panel of guests who were arguing ceaselessly.  I cannot locate the video clip.  All I can say, it was tough to get a word in edgewise.

The subject?  The LACERS pension collected by the alleged Grim Sleeper serial killer – a pension he will keep even if convicted and incarcerated.

Also watch the interview with the LA Weekly reporter Chris Pelisek who covered the story.

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Corp to Start for Richmond

Former Southern Cal Trojan Aaron Corp won the starting quarterback position with Richmond.


The Spiders open up against Virginia on September 4th.  The game will be carried on ESPN3.

For the Virginia perspective on the decision, follow this link:


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Voters in California could become victims of a classic pincer movement on November 2nd.

It’s a simple strategy that’s been used in warfare throughout the centuries.  General Grant would have appreciated the crafty maneuver shaping up in the Golden State.  General Lee would have appreciated it, too, but he never had the manpower to execute one (more about that in a later segment of my Civil War Sesquicentenial series).

There are two propositions that may undo the checks and balances that protect the taxpayers from complete fiscal chaos, as if the state isn’t already heading to hell in a handbasket. 

One arm of the pincer is Proposition 27 – Financial Accountability in Redistricting Act (FAIR).  The aim of this deceivingly named measure is to undo Proposition 11, which was passed in November 2008.  Proposition 11, authorized a citizens’ commission to redraw state office voting districts, rather than elected officials who have a vested interest in the outcome.

Congressman Howard Berman of Valley Village  is the driving force behind this measure, using FAIR, a coterie of self-serving politicians and other operatives (reportedly including Howard’s brother Michael), to confuse the public that Prop 27 is in the interest of saving the state money.  If 27 is saving anything, it is the political careers of many incumbents.

Proposition 27 is the counter to Proposition 20 which expands the citizens’ commission’s authority to Congressional Districts.

It is interesting that Berman does not want to face his constituents in a town hall on this issue; however, when was the last time anyone recalls Berman hosting a  town meeting open to the general public?

By contrast, in the adjacent Congressional District to the west, Brad Sherman holds public meetings whenever he’s in town, as did his esteemed and admired predecessor Tony Beilenson. 

Berman is not new to redistricting gamesmanship.

Back in 2000, Sherman opposed Berman’s initial attempt to force him into a more competitive district while Berman cherry-picked his own.  Latino groups sided with Sherman because they saw it as an attempt to dilute the influence of their growing ethnic community. They threatened to sue if Berman’s plan was approved.  Berman backed down.

While Berman is attempting to return redistricting to partisan politicians through Proposition 27, the other arm of the pincer is Proposition 25

Mike Feuer (Assembly Member, 42nd District- straddling Beverly Hills to the Southeast Valley) is pitching this measure, which would lower the passage of a budget in the State Legislature to a simple majority vote.  A two-thirds vote is required to pass a budget today.

Mike is not the author of 25, but he is the face of it in my district, so I am singling him out.  I probably wouldn’t if it were not for his avoiding taking a stand on the citizens’ redistricting commission.

I actually support the concept of a simple majority threshold, but – only if redistricting remains with a citizens’ commission.  If it returns to the legislators, Proposition 25 will assure that the budget will be in full control of the ideologues, whatever the party.

If the shoe were on the other foot and the Republicans dominated, they would most certainly support a comparable scheme.

Back when Proposition 11 was on the ballot, Feuer attended a meeting of the Neighborhood Council Valley Village and was asked whether he supported the measure.  He said it did not make any difference to him.  Translated, it meant he was satisfied with the status quo of having his peers carve up the map like a Big Ben jigsaw puzzle.

About three months ago, Feuer sent a staffer to NCVV with handouts supporting Proposition 25.  I stated my support for the concept but would not back 25 without meaningful redistricting in place.  I reminded her of Feuer’s previous non position on Prop 11 and asked if he had come around to support a citizens’ commission.

At the next meeting, she reaffirmed Feuer’s ambivalence.

Drawing election maps is at the core of our democracy.  Anyone who is not disturbed by the outrageous district lines for both congressional and state offices is probably apathetic or a die-hard partisan of one party or the other.

Our current districts are handcuffs that prevent substantive compromise  and perpetuate ideological impasse.

It is unconscionable that Feuer elects to stay on the sidelines.  I can only speculate he does not want to get caught in a potentially hot crossfire.

It would not surprise me if he votes for Berman’s Prop 27; after all, it would enhance his influence as a member of the Assembly Budget Committee.

In summary, vote as follows:

Berman’s Prop 27:    Vote No

Feuer’s favorite Prop 25:   Vote No

Prop 20 (empowers citizens commission to also draw new Congressional District lines):   Vote Yes.

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You wouldn’t believe the country was in a recession if you visited the Barker Hanger at Santa Monica Airport this weekend.

Almost any conceivable prop or pre-production material from ABC’s recently concluded hit series LOST was up for auction.   I came away convinced that LOST fans are in a different economic bracket, immune to the severe prolonged (and still to be continued) real life financial crisis – LOST Worth. 

I had hoped to grab a piece of the series for myself – or more likely for my daughter, who was more obsessed with the six-season saga than I was. The two of us would have weekly telephone conversations about the latest episode and shared our predictions, almost all of which were wrong. 

I’ll miss that. We now we have more relevant issues to discuss, such as the economy. 

I’d prefer LOST. 

There were 1,174 lots available for bid; judging from the prices I saw today, the producers probably grossed at least $4.5 million.  Even a scrap of paper with an ambiguous note written to a couple of the characters commanded a few thousand dollars.  There was nothing on or in the note that would make anyone but a true fan connect it with the series. 

The internet really drove the process…and the prices.  I estimate the take would have been less than half my estimate without on-line participation.  Truly an auctioneer’s dream. 

I was pre-registered as a live bidder but never had a chance to wave my paddle.  A white flag would have been more appropriate as the prices escalated in seconds to four and five figures. 

Pictures speak louder than words, so here are a few pictures of the bidding screen showing the items and the winning bids. 

One of Ben Linus' costumes for $3,500

Dharma Rum for $3,000

Hatch computer- $16,000; with me, priceless

Paul and cast member - now that's really priceless

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Corp picks up at around the 2:30 mark.


Also, the video of the first scrimmage is now up. 

It is difficult to tell who is taking the snaps due to the red practice jerseys worn by the quarterbacks.  I believe Corp is predominately in the first half.

I was more impressed by the running plays, but since this was the first scrimmage that’s not surprising.

Regardless, the video provides up-close coverage; football junkies should enjoy it.


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