June 24, 2023
Albert Einstein famously said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
Although it includes numerous examples where our government has failed, “Follow the Money” is not a report that is intended simply to criticize or find fault. The purpose is to expose these examples of waste, fraud, and abuse so that we can have a conversation about how we can do better.
Surely, Californians from all political vantage points can agree that we want our leaders to spend our money effectively in ways that make our state a better place to live, and not squander taxpayer dollars. It’s up to all of us to hold the government accountable for how it spends our money.
With that said, let’s follow the money. This report was generated on April 18, 2023 by Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation.
California is overtaxed, its state and local governments are constantly looking for new ways to raise taxes and productive citizens and businesses are leaving at ever accelerating rates.
Today California’s claimed $97.5 Billion Surplus has turned into a $22 Billion Dollar deficit. $30 Billion went to California Employment Development Department scammers during the pandemic.
Companies are leaving California and have doubled . Companies large and small are fleeing to more business-friendly locales like Texas and Florida. Texas is reporting a nearly $33 Billion Dollar surplus.
Bureaucracy and Corruption
Gavin Newsom solicited nearly $227 million from private companies to support his priorities during the pandemic. The top contributors were Facebook and Blue Shield, which gave $27 million and $20 million respectively. These were known as “Behested payments.”
LA DA’s failure to do his job leads to mass thefts of packages from trains.
After a surge in robberies targeting trains, Union Pacific Railroad sent a letter to Los Angeles DA George Gascon citing his order to stop prosecuting certain thefts as being responsible for theft of numerous UPS, Amazon, and FedEx packages.
Bay Area County pays a woman $2.45 million to write a book she allegedly plagiarized from Wikipedia
Santa Clara County overpaid $2 million for an employee to write a 580 page manuscript on the history of the County, but large portions of this manuscript have been reported plagiarized from Wikipedia, various newspapers, and from the county itself.
California politicians jetted around the world on junkets that were paid for by various special interests. Iceland, Ireland, and Israel were among the destinations legislators enjoyed at no cost to themselves. Our local harbormaster Charlie Helms was allowed to use the harbor district credit card to take himself to Ireland. Such trips give lobbyists and special interest representatives access to politicians that are not available to regular citizen taxpayers.
EDD FRAUD estimated at 32.6 Billion and still rising
While regular Californians struggled to access relief during the pandemic, scammers and even inmates on death row were found to have been able to receive unemployment funds from the state.
California Launches $25 million “guaranteed income” pilot program
“Guaranteed income” is a controversial concept where individuals receive free money with no strings attached. The concept has been promoted by various nonprofits and adopted on a local basis in several California cities, but now the state will provide $25 million to expand this program statewide. Pregnant women and Foster youth will be among nearly 2000 Californians who will receive $600 to 1200 monthly checks for up to 18 months. Sacramento’s goal is to implement such a program on a much grander scale.
LEGISLATORS CHAMPION ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS-THEY THEMSELVES IGNORE
While legislators representing California’s supermajority party continually pat themselves on the back for “saving the environment,” a recent court ruling found their Capitol reconstruction project to be in violation of the state’s CEQA law, the “California Environmental Quality Act.” The plan in question, which is the subject of 4 lawsuits, would spend over 1 Billion in taxpayer dollars to knock down the portion of the state Capitol where legislator’s offices are located and rebuild it. Under the plan, the size of this portion of the building would nearly double, fro 325,000 to 525,000 square feet. The state was found to have failed to consider alternative options and to properly solicit and consider input from the public.
San Mateo Community College administrator admits using district resources for political purposes.
A San Mateo community college vice Chancellor admitted to using district resources for political purposes in a plea agreement that saw authorities drop embezzlement and perjury charges against him. The administrator had been charged with a total of 15 felonies. A district representative stated the administrator was placed on leave. Can’t say our Local DA comes close to even charging anyone for embezzlement in Del Norte County. Our local loss of funds was in the amount of 73,000.00 and DA Ms. Micks and County Auditor Clint Schaad just looked the other way.
77% percent of School Districts refuse to disclose employee pay.
In 2014 a law was passed requiring all public agencies to disclose employee pay, but most school districts currently use a loophole inadvertently created by another law to opt out of this requirement. Following the revelation that a school district administrator was able to use a series of unusual perks to amass a $700,000 dollar salary in 2020 and 2021, a bipartisan group of legislators introduced a bill to require disclosure once and for all. The bill SB924, died in the Assembly.
COMMUNITY COLLEGES FAIL TO REPORT DATA ON FAKE ENROLLMENTS
Following reports in 2021, 65,000 bots, which are potentially connected to online scammers, had attempted to enroll at California Community Colleges and receive financial aid, the Chancellor demanded colleges report data on the situation as part of an investigation. However, the deadline for reporting this data passed with nearly 40 percent of colleges failing to respond and 15% failing to fill out surveys. All nine colleges among those failing to report were from Los Angeles County.
MUCH of $33 BILLION IN COVID money given to California schools unaccounted for
A CalMatters investigation into how COVID money given to California schools was spent was unable to get answers from many school districts including Oakland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Oakland, which refused to provide records in response to requests, was previously found by state officials to have misspent $1 million in COVID funds.
SAN GABRIEL VALLEY SCHOOL district official and consulting firm CEO charged with $1.4 million embezzlement scheme.
A former superintendent of Bassett Unified School District, in L.A County’s San Gabriel Valley, and Consulting firm CEO were charged with a scheme to divert a portion of the $30 million school construction bond for their own gain. An investigation by District Attorney’s office alleged that $1 million of invoices had been approved for work that was never actually done as part of the scheme.” Let’s not even talk about Del Norte Unified School District, their oversight boards are untrained, falsify records, and go along with whatever the school hands them. But again, we have no prosecuting attorney who will do her job, except to collect her paycheck.
ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
A watchdog investigation group into recycling fraud found the state loses $200 million a year to scammers bringing trash from out of state and mixing extra materials with cans and bottles to increase the weight. The advocacy group also noted that CALREcycle, the agency for overseeing this program, has conducted 62,259 audits, investigations, and inspections over the past decade, of which the agency recovered $1,611 per action.
STATE CAN’T KEEP THE LIGHTS ON
Although the state is already experiencing rolling blackouts and skyrocketing costs due to policymaker’s drive to transition entirely to “green power,” state energy officials are forecasting that these problems will get worse in the years ahead. By 2025, officials from 3 state agencies and the governor’s office warned, California will have an energy capacity shortfall of 1800MW, and consumers will furthermore be hit with electricity rate increases from 4-9% annually between now and 2025.
SACRAMENTO OFFERS $9,500 payouts to electric car buyers.
Sacramento’s taxpayer-funded “Clean cars 4 all” program is offering low-income residents almost $10,000 to pay toward buying an electric car that cost 60,000.00
BAN ON THE SALE OF GAS-POWERED CARS PLUS $20,000 FINES
The California Air Resources Board voted to require all new vehicles sold in California to be electric by 2035. The Agency furthermore mandated that by 2026, one third of all vehicles sold must be electric (only 16% sold in California the first three months in 2022 were electric) Failure to meet this target could cost automakers fines of $20,000 per vehicle sold short of that goal. The question I ask you, how many automakers are in the State of California? Short answer, Zero.
The mandate furthermore ignores the issue whether the state’s power grid, which is already struggling to reliably supply power, can handle an additional demand that would be caused by these new vehicles. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has stated Electricity production would need to double to accommodate an all-electric vehicle fleet.
CALIFORNIA BANS GAS HEATERS AND FURNACES BY 2030.
When a federal agency official said a ban on gas stoves was “on the table” outrage ensued and the White House was quick to distance itself, stating that it would not support such a ban. However, last year the California Air Resouces Board moved ahead with a similar plan to ban gas water heaters and furnaces by 2030. California is offering $4885 to homeowners to switch to electric pumps and water heaters. Subsidies are not free money but are ultimately paid by taxpayers.
HOUSING AND HOMELESS
An audit of a 1.2 billion bond program promised voters 10,000 uits of new housing for Los Angeles homeless population found that only 1200 homes had been built since the spending was approved in 2016, while the number of homeless residents in the city rose from an estimated 28,000 to 41,000. Of the homes built 14 percent came at a cost of over $700,000 dollars each and one project underdevelopment was estimated at $837,000 per unit.
SAN FRANCISCO HOMELESS NONPROFIT EMBROILED IN SCANDAL again.
A nonprofit that controls nearly $28 million in public funds intended to provide housing for the homeless was accused by San Francisco Officials of improperly collecting rent and allowing it to be illegally sold to residents. The current charges against the United Council of Human Services come after a 2017 report by city auditors found financial mismanagement by the same group. In del norte county that would be considered “internal weaknesses;” by Del Norte Auditor Clint Schaad. But the question begs to ask, why did this non-profit continue to receive taxpayer dollars after the issues found in the 2017 audit.
BART PROJECTS 1.2 BILLION DEFICIT
Prior to the pandemic causing increasing numbers of Bay area residents to begin working from home, BART’s ridership was already declining. Ridership has not rebounded to its pre-pandemic levels and officials are projecting a 1.2 billion deficit by fiscal year 2032. Legislators are considering a $100 billion tax increase to support BART and other regional transit systems in spite of declining ridership. Are you ready to approve this tax on the 2024 ballot?
“HIGH SPEED RAIL” COST ESTIMATES TO RISE
While voters narrowly approved a plan to construct high speed rail in California, the plan they approved stated the total cost would be $45 billion , with state taxpayers on the hook for 10 Billion of this cost. The rest of the funds are to come from private and Federal funds, however, just like the Del Norte Airport cost, the private funds are in cricket mode. This is considered a boondoggle project. The speed rail authority has revised its cost estimate to up to 100 billion dollars.
LA PUBLIC TRANSIT UNSAFE
Surging crime is a problem throughout Los Angeles and crime on local trains and buses is not new. However, crime has risen throughout the city so also has it gotten worse on public transit. A decline of ridership is caused by homeless using trains and buses and their parking lots to take shelter.