Friday, July 16, 2010

Redevelopment Agencies and the Principles of the Ca. Republican Assembly

I was recently asked by a fellow member of the CRA why I felt that Redevelopment Agencies were bad for the public.  After my long dissertation (found throughout this blog and elsewhere), I boiled it down to the CRA's own principles.
7. That the market economy, based upon capitalism and free enterprise, allocating resources by the free play of supply and demand, is the greatest system for creating personal freedom, a strong constitutional government, and is the most productive supplier of human need.
8. That when government interferes with the free enterprise system or attempts to control the economy by taking from one individual to bestow upon another, it diminishes the incentive of the first, the integrity of the second, and the moral autonomy of both.
Redevelopment TAKES (purchases at "fair market value") property from one person and GIVES it (usually for FREE) to another under the auspices of "the public good".  On it's face it should be apparent that this practice is inconsistent with the CRA's principles.  The public coffers should not fund private development and give one developer/investor an unfair advantage over another.

 
Redevelopment Agency money at work!



The results of Redevelopment Agency at work somewhere else!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Orange County Register Continues to Pound the Pension Tsunami Drum

In yesterday's online Op Ed, the OC Register once again bangs the drum for fiscal responsibility by our elected representatives. With many seats opening up on city councils throughout California, thanks in part to term limits (more on that later), we have an opportunity to fix a broken system.

The OC Register points out Orange County's estimated unfunded pension gap of $3,700,000,000, which has enough zeros to strain my eyes on any computer monitor and should make you mad!

But how do we fix the mess? Some say the quickest fix is for municipalities to file for bankruptcy. That is an unethical response that will cause more harm than good. Orange County hit the financial reset button on December 6, 1994 when we filed for bankruptcy. It was a hard recovery which has been made worse by errant spending and overly generous pensions. Did we not learn anything? Of course not.

If not bankruptcy, what can we do? The other day I heard someone suggest a bond measure to bail out the pension systems of California (including cities and counties). It is a known liability versus an unknown liability.  The socialistic idea that the wealthier, more conservative agencies would help pay for the liberally generous agencies reeks of a Bush/Obama bailout on the backs of tax payers. No, a bond is not the solution.

Sue the bastards! Sue the employee associations for being smart enough to pull the wool over the eyes of our elected representatives. Yeah, that’ll teach them! Meanwhile, we will spend millions on attorneys and court fees, etc. etc. Throwing good money after bad money is not a practical solution for many municipalities who are already cash-strapped and making deep cuts. However, should the County Board of Supervisor’s suit against the Orange County Employees Retirement System win, I could see many more agencies heading to court with high hopes of victory.

The first step in fixing the pension mess is recognizing opportunities. One opportunity will arrive on November 2 when you can cast your vote and choose pension-minded candidates for your local offices.

Another opportunity exists due to this economic depression. With some of the highest unemployment numbers since 1939, we have a deep labor pool. As the OC Register reports, we need to engage the employee associations in negotiations and help them come to terms with the inevitable: the pension ship is sinking and the deals on the table will continue to shrink the longer they wait.

The next step is realizing that the switch from the current defined-benefit plan to the defined-contribution plan cannot be optional. Defined-contribution plans must be standard fair for all new hires.

The final step is accountability. We hold our elected representatives accountable by voting for new candidates who haven’t succumbed to the will of the workers. Public employee association leaders must be held responsible for their complicity in the entitlement foray.

Somewhere in this fix we must include education for the tax payer and education for the employees. When I was a young green Orange County worker, there was no one to help explain retirement benefits. There was one option and it was mandatory. Employees need to know how to invest in their future which includes short-term investment in their employer and long-term investment in their retirement. If public employees hurt their employers today, there may be nothing left for tomorrow.

The Board for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyor's Asnwers some Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about Land Surveying Laws


Q: I’m only going to charge my new client $500 to survey his property. Do I really need to use a written contract?


A: Yes. Unless you are going to do the work for free, the law requires land surveyors to execute a written contract with their clients before beginning work on a project. See Business and Professions Code section 8759 for additional information.


Q: I performed a field survey, found a material discrepancy, and set monuments with my tag on them. Now my client refuses to pay me. Do I still have to file a Record of Survey?


A: Yes. There are no provisions in the law exempting you from having to file a Record of Survey if your client refuses to pay. Your only recourse is to seek private legal counsel regarding remedies available to you through the civil court system to collect any fees that may be owed to you by your client. See Business and Professions Code section 8762 for additional information.


Frequently Asked Questions about Professional Engineering Laws


Q: I heard there is a new law that says I don’t have to put my expiration date on my plans, but my boss is making me include that information. What is required?


A: While the law does not require you to include your expiration date, it does not prohibit it. See Business and Professions Code sections 6735, 6735.3, 6735.4, and 8761 for additional information.


Q: Can a licensed civil engineer prepare a soils or geotechnical report?


A: Yes. Geotechnical, or soils, engineering, as defined in Title 16, California Code of Regulations section 404(ee), is part of the practice of civil engineering, which is defined in Business and Professions Code section 6731. There¬fore, anyone licensed as a civil engineer has the legal authority to practice geotechnical engineering and to prepare geotechnical reports without also being licensed as a geotechnical engineer as long as the licensed civil engineer is by education and/or experience fully competent and proficient in geotechnical engineering, as required by Title 16, California Code of Regulations section 415.


Q. Can a local agency require that a soils report be prepared and signed by a geotechnical engineer rather than a civil engineer?


A. No. The preparation and subsequent signing of a soils report is part of the practice of civil engineering. Therefore, a civil engineer is legally authorized to prepare soils reports. Business and Professions Code section 460 prohibits local agencies from prohibiting a licensee from performing work that he or she is legally authorized to perform.


Q: Can a civil engineer offer and/or practice mechanical and electrical engineering?


A: Yes. A civil engineer can offer and practice mechanical and electrical engineering as long as it is supplementary to the civil engineering work.


Q: Is it legal for another engineer to make changes to plans I prepared and then submit the modified plans to the city?


A: According to Board Rule 404.1(d), this is permitted as long as the other professional engineer exercises the requisite extent of control and assumes responsibility for the engineering decisions as required by Board Rule 404.1(a) and meets the criteria described in Board Rule 404.1(b) as well as the requirements of the Professional Engineers Act and Board Rules 411 and 415. The profes¬sional engineer need only be in responsible charge of the portions, additions, or modifications, or the portion of the project affected by the addition or modification, and not of the entire project. Except as provided in sections 6735(b), 6735.3(b), and 6735.4(b) of the Code, the original licensee is not relieved of any responsibility arising from the engineering services of which he or she was in responsible charge.


Q: If I am a civil, electrical, or mechanical engineer operating an engineering business with a partner who is unlicensed, can my partner solicit work, send out proposals, and sign contracts on behalf of the business?


A: No. It is a misdemeanor (and in some cases a felony) violation pursuant to B&P Code section 6787(a) for any person who is not licensed to practice or offer to practice civil, electrical, or mechanical engineering. In addition, this could result in a violation on behalf of the licensee for aiding and abetting the unlicensed practice of civil, electrical, or mechanical engineering.


Q: Since I am an Engineer-in-Training who knows a civil engineer willing to work on projects, can I advertise and contract for engineering projects as long as the civil engineer stamps and signs all of the work?


A: No. It is a misdemeanor (and in some cases a felony) violation pursuant to B&P Code section 6787(a) for any person who is not licensed to practice or offer to practice civil, electrical, or mechanical engineering. In addition, when operating an engineering business, all requirements described in B&P Code section 6738 must be met. If the require¬ments are not met, the licensee could be considered to be aiding and abetting in the unlicensed practice, or offering to practice, civil engineering.


Q: Can a civil engineer offer and practice structural engineering?


A: Yes. Civil engineering embraces structural engineering; therefore, a civil engineer may offer and practice structural engineering. However, a civil engineer may only use the title “Structural Engineer” if he or she has obtained the second license as a Structural Engineer.

There are also some great articles in the Board's Bulletin.  Click here to read all of them.

Greg Sebourn

Orange County Bail Bonds

The Beauty of a Storm

The Beauty of a Storm
Orange County, Ca.

My Grandma - A Eulogy

LET'S TALK ABOUT 1914 FOR A MOMENT.



FOR STARTERS, GRANDMA WAS BORN TUESDAY, DECEMBER 22, 1914 IN HER FAMILY'S ATWOOD RANCH HOUSE.



IT IS WORTH NOTING THOSE ALSO BORN IN 1914:

JACK LALANNE

JOE DIMAGGIO

DANNY THOMAS



AND WHO DIED IN 1914:

JOHN MUIR, THE FAMOUS NATURALIST FOR WHICH NUMEROUS ROADS, PARKS, HOTELS, AND NATURE RESERVES ARE NAMED.



IT IS ALSO WORTH NOTING THAT IN 1914 WOODROW WILSON SIGNS MOTHER'S DAY PROCLAMATION AND BABE RUTH MAKES HIS MAJOR LEAGUE DEBUT WITH THE RED SOX. MOTHER'S DAY AND BASEBALL- TWO OF MY FAVORITES!! (PERHAPS HER NICKNAME "BABE" CAME FROM BABE RUTH???)



GRANDMA WAS BORN INTO A PERIOD OF TIME FILLED WITH TURMOIL. IN JUNE OF 1914 ARCHDUKE FRANZS FERDINAND WAS ASSASSINATED. WITHIN ONE MONTH WORLD WAR I RAGED ACROSS EUROPE. TWO DAYS AFTER HER BIRTH HOWEVER, GERMAN AND BRITISH TROOPS INTERRUPTED WWI TO CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS. (PERHAPS THEY PAUSE KNOWING THAT A GREAT WOMAN WAS BORNE) WORLD WAR I CONTINUED UNTIL THE TREATY OF VERSAILLES IN 1919.



ALTHOUGH SHE WAS ONLY 5 YEARS OLD, SHE SAW THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS CREATED AND THE 19TH AMENDMENT WAS APPROVED BY THE U.S. CONGRESS GUARANTEEING THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN TO VOTE.



SHE LIVED THROUGH MANY NOTABLE EVENTS. LIKE THE 1933 LONG BEACH EARTHQUAKE OR WHEN ATWOOD FLOODED ALONG WITH MOST OF ORANGE COUNTY IN 1938 AND THE FLOOD-WATERS CLAIMED MORE THAN 50 PEOPLE, 43 OF WHICH WERE FROM ATWOOD! ALL OF THIS DURING A TIME THAT WE READ ABOUT IN SCHOOL AND KNOWN AS "THE GREAT DEPRESSION". SOMEWHERE IN ALL OF THAT SHE FOUND THE LOVE OF HER LIFE, GRANDPA LEO, GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL, GOT MARRIED, AND HAD KIDS!



THEN THERE WAS WORLD WAR II. FROM PEARL HARBOR TO HIROSHIMA, GRANDMA WAS RAISING MY UNCLE BOB AND MOM ARLINE. WITH AIR-RAID SIRENS AND BLACKOUTS SHE WAS A WIFE AND MOTHER. WHAT A TIME TO RAISE CHILDREN! I BET GRANDMA'S PARENTS WERE ABEL TO TELL HER A THING OR TWO ABOUT RAISING KIDS IN WARTIME.



GRANDMA WAS THERE WHEN THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA HELD THEIR 3RD ANNUAL NATIONAL JAMBOREE IN 1953. SHE SAW AIRBASES OPEN IN '42 AND CLOSE IN '99. SHE WATCHED WALTER KNOTT START UP HIS BERRY FARM AND WALT DISNEY TURN ORANGE GROVES AND STRAWBERRY PATCHES INTO DISNEYLAND!



SHE SAW THE HORSE AND CARRIAGE FADE AWAY INTO HISTORY AND SPACE TRAVEL EXPLODE BEFORE HER WITH THE FIRST LUNAR LANDING. JUST IMAGINE HOW MUCH TECHNOLOGY HAS CHANGED OVER THE LAST 100 YEARS. FROM TUBE RECTIFIERS TO SUPERCONDUCTORS; FROM TRANS-ATLANTIC TELEGRAPH CABLES TO SATELLITE TV.



SHE SAW MORE IN HER 93 YEARS THAN MOST OF US WILL EVER READ ABOUT, LET ALONE LIVE THROUGH!



OF THOSE 93 YEARS IT IS MY HONOR TO HAVE BEEN HER GRANDSON FOR 35 OF THEM. SHE WAS MY MOTHER WHEN MOM HAD TO WORK. SHE WIPED MY NOSE AND PUT FOOD IN MY MOUTH. SHE LET ME PLAY WITH GRANDPA EVEN THOUGH SHE NEEDED HIM TO TAKE HER TO THE STORE. SHE WAS MY GRANDMA AND I WILL MISS HER IMMENSELY.



JUST LOOK AROUND THIS ROOM; SHE DID THIS. SHE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR BRINGING SO MANY GOOD PEOPLE INTO THIS WORLD AND TOGETHER TODAY. THIS IS HER LEGACY.



A Dedication To My Loving Wife, Stacey. Thank you for all you do for me!

Brad Paisley - I Thought I Loved You Then


I remember trying not to stare the night that I first met you
You had me mesmerized
3 weeks later in the front porch light taking 45 min to kiss you goodnight
I hadn’t told you yet but I thought I loved you then

Chorus
Now you’re my whole life now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl
Like a river meets the sea
Stronger than it’s ever been
We’ve come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then.

I remember taking you back to right where I first met you
You were so surprised
There were people around
But I didn’t care I got down on one knee right there
And once again I thought I loved you then

Chorus
Now you’re my whole life now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl
Like a river meets the sea
Stronger than it’s ever been
We’ve come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then.

I can just see you with a baby on the way
I can just see you when your hair is turning gray
What I can’t see is how I’m ever gonna love you more
But I’ve said that before.

Now you’re my whole life now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl
Well look back some day at this moment that we’re in
And I'll look at you and say I thought I loved you then
And I thought I loved you then...

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