UPDATE: Democrats Cannibalize Each Other — Chiang Halts Pay to Legislators over Phony Budget

EDITOR’S NOTE: Legislative reaction was fierce to Controller John Chiang’s decision to cut off their $400 per day pay as captured by the Sacramento Bee. Herer’s what my representative, the head of the budget committee, had to say: Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Woodland Hills:

“The Controller is acting without clear legal authority. He has
confused having the responsibility to cut checks with having the
authority to be a judge and jury on the budget. He signs our paychecks
but Proposition 25 does not make him our boss – that role is reserved
for the people who elected us. … If his action stands, it will have
grave implications on future budgets. His action suggests that we are
not a co-equal, independent branch of government vested with the
constitutional authority to craft the budget. And, that’s not what the
people voted for when they passed Proposition 25.”

Sacramento Bee reports:

Controller John Chiang announced today he has blocked pay for lawmakers, rejecting his own party’s spending plan as insufficient to satisfy a voter-approved law on timely budgets.

In doing so, the Democratic controller exercised unprecedented
authority, establishing a new role for his office under Propositions 25
and 58 to determine whether a legislative budget is “balanced.”

“My office’s careful review of the recently-passed budget found
components that were miscalculated, miscounted or unfinished,” Chiang
said in a statement. “The numbers simply did not add up, and the
Legislature will forfeit their pay until a balanced budget is sent to
the Governor.”

The controller said he determined that the Democratic budget spent
$89.75 billion but only provided $87.9 billion in revenues, leaving a
$1.85 billion imbalance.

Assembly Speaker John A. Perez said in a statement that he believes the controller “was wrong.”

“The Controller is, in effect, allowing Legislative Republicans to
control the budget process and I believe that’s a very unfortunate
outcome that is inconsistent with the intent of Proposition 25,” said
Pérez, D-Los Angeles. “In the coming days, we will be taking additional
budget action informed by the Controller’s analysis, and consistent with
the values of the budget we passed last week.”

Chiang has determined that the majority-vote plan Democrats sent to Gov. Jerry Brown
last week was not a “balanced” budget and therefore did not meet
lawmakers’ constitutional obligation for timely passage of a spending
plan. Brown immediately vetoed the budget Thursday, less than 16 hours
after passage, dubbing it “not a balanced solution” and noting that it
relied on legally questionable solutions.

In his determination, the controller highlighted one component of the
budget that he believes ran afoul of the state’s Proposition 98 minimum
guarantee for school funding. The Democrats’ budget underfunded K-12
schools and community colleges by $1.3 billion, Chiang said. John Mockler,
an education consultant who wrote Proposition 98, said in an interview
last week the Legislature would have to provide that money if courts
intervene or at some future date if revenues come in as projected.

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Jay Carson, Steve Bing and Antonio’s Ethics Problem

Gang czar Jeff Carr got the top billing in Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s shakeup in the leadership of his vast personal staff.

But the real play is the appointment of high-flying Jay Carson, the 32-year-old named to revive the mayor’s political fortunes in the newly-created post of Chief Deputy Mayor.
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The shakeup announcement (CarrCarson.doc) stressed Carr’s role and downplayed Carson’s and for good reason. Carson will be in the center of where the power and money are, the missing link in Antonio’s circle of ‘friends.’

The link that matters in this case is Stephen Bing, heir to a vast fortune who has thrown nearly $100 million into Democratic causes and campaigns, including Villaraigosa’s, and even more into buying his way into Hollywood movie making.

It was Bing who brought Carson to LA early this year in a top post in his Shangri La business enterprises. And it’s the Bing connection that creates a huge ethical cloud over Carson’s role as Chief Deputy Mayor, one that the mayor glibly kissed off at his press conference last week although serious questions need to be answered.

Not long after Carson joined Bing, the mayor threw himself across the tracks as head of the board overseeing the MTA and kept the staff from eliminating AnseldoBreda as a competitor for a $300 million rail car manufacturing deal because of the Italian firm’s poor performance on a previous contract.

The key to keeping the deal alive is the partnership between AnseldoBreda and Bing’s Shangri La Construction to build a rail car manufacturing plant with heavy public subsidies in the five-mile strip near downtown that the mayor has dubbed LA’s Green Tech Corridor and made the centerpiece of his second term.

Bing stands to profit handsomely from the project which is just the first step in reaping  billions of dollars in profits from construction of the California high-speed rail lines — deals where Bing’s political influence are sure to stand him in good stead.

Carson faces an almost impossible ethical dance since he worked for Bing and his duties as Chief Deputy Mayor include “Education, Housing & Economic
Development, Transportation, Energy & Environment, and Commercial
&
Residential Development,” according to the mayor’s press release.

Those are the most
controversy-laden areas of city government, the areas where special
interests with all their cash flow for politicians collide head-on with
the sentiments of many residents. Specifically, they are the areas of responsibility that come into play in Bing’s deals.

The mayor casually threw out that Bing will “recuse” himself from involvement in the Bing rail car deal.

But how is that possible?

He’s not a legislator recusing himself from voting on a measure because of a conflict of interest.

He’s the man in charge supervising the people developing strategies, cutting deals and implementing policies that affect Bing. How can they be insulated from being influenced by Carson and his clear connection to Bing?

Continue reading Jay Carson, Steve Bing and Antonio’s Ethics Problem