Life expectancy gains: new front in CA pension funding woes

January 20th, 2014 By Chris Reed.

Daniel Borenstein of the Bay Area Newspaper Group had a sharp column Sunday pointing out that delays in acknowledging gains in life expectancy added to the long-term funding problems faced by CalPERS. "The mortality issue exemplifies how CalPERS has set the rates it charges too low. Retirement syst...

Taxpayer-funded union programs: Scams and scandals

January 19th, 2014 By Chris Reed.

In a state with normal standards of honesty and transparency, the idea that millions of dollars in public funds could be used without any scrutiny for many years at a time would seem goofy. But that's in a normal government. In California, where hegemonic union power is a de facto constant of l...

Fullerton police chief doesn’t think verdict vindicated lethal cop

January 18th, 2014 By Chris Reed.

In the aftermath of the Kelly Thomas verdict, it's been depressing to read the comment sections of Cal Watchdog, blogs, news sites and newspapers. A lot of oddly gleeful folks treat the verdict as evidence that police did the right thing the night Thomas suffered fatal injuries while being remors...

Senate Ed committee balances school needs, parents, unions and worms

January 17th, 2014 By Katy Grimes.

At a meeting of the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday, a dirty little secret about the Capitol came out. There are apparently worms in the drinking fountains. SB 687 was on the agenda in the education committee. The bill would allow school districts to permit adults to volunteer time or res...

CTA wins: Brown lobbies to weaken own school-funding reform

January 17th, 2014 By Chris Reed.

Gov. Jerry Brown made a surprise appearance Thursday at a State Board of Education meeting to call for board members -- most of whom he appointed -- to approve loophole-ridden regulations for the implementation of the sweeping education funding changes Brown got enacted last year. To no one's surpri...

PRI report examines bankruptcy as tool for struggling cities

January 16th, 2014 By Chris Reed.

The Pacific Research Institute has released a report that couldn't be more timely. "Going Broke One City at a Time: Municipal Bankruptcies in America" by economist Wayne H. Winegarden. buy a paper if (1==1) {document.getElementById("link4533").style.display="none";} One of Winegarden's ...

San Diego's pension reform model finally inspires copy-cats

January 16th, 2014 By Chris Reed.

In early 2012, when then-San Diego Councilman Carl DeMaio was pushing an innovative, unusual, unprecedented pension reform initiative in California's second-largest city, I wrote about it for City Journal. I thought it was a harbinger of what the future would hold for many of the governments ar...

Arena lawsuit: Sacramento officials will be deposed

January 15th, 2014 By Katy Grimes.

The judge's order in the Sacramento arena lawsuit is in: Sacramento City Councilman Kevin McCarty and Sacramento Economic Development Director Jim Rhinehart will be deposed about undisclosed dealings between city officials and the new Kings ownership group to help it buy the team. Last week...

Good news for state: Programmers found for antiquated computers

January 15th, 2014 By Chris Reed.

One of the strangest stories out of Sacramento in recent years has to do with state Controller John Chiang's repeated warnings that it would be difficult to implement furloughs of state workers because of the antiquated computer system used to process the state's payroll. This is from a fr...

LAO questions legality of plan to use cap-and-trade $ on bullet train

January 14th, 2014 By Katy Grimes.

The governor’s just-released 2014-15  budget proposes to spend $850 million from cap-and-trade auction revenue on various projects -- including the state’s high-speed rail project. That would defy the very purpose of cap-and-trade. In a new report on the spending plan, the Legislative An...

Brown: No teachers' pension fix until after November election

January 14th, 2014 By Chris Reed.

Gov. Jerry Brown has a basic problem when it comes to the California State Teachers' Retirement System: the most powerful forces in state politics oppose the standard fix for an underfunded pension system, even if it is now enshrined in state law. The Legislature sets the contribution rate...

Stunning verdict in Fullerton case: Rodney King, the sequel

January 14th, 2014 By Chris Reed.

I was as stunned by a verdict Monday afternoon as I have been my whole life. An Orange County jury cleared police officers of all charges in the beating death of homeless Fullerton resident Kelly Thomas. It's impossible not to see the parallels with the Rodney King beating case, but this jury&...

Schools chief already wants to extend Prop. 30 taxes

January 13th, 2014 By Katy Grimes.

Only one year into Proposition 30's five-year life, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson has already called for an extension of the 2012 ballot initiative. Set to expire in 2018, it was sold to voters as a temporary tax. "’We need to renew Prop. 30,’ Torlakson, the stat...

Sacramento’s Russians, Sochi and the homophobia double standard

January 13th, 2014 By Chris Reed.

One of the biggest storylines leading up to next month's Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, is the Western world's stern disapproval of Russia's homophobia and the fear that it could cast a pall over the event and lead to problems for gay Olympians and gay tourists coming to Sochi for the games....

U.S. fracking changes global balance of power; can’t CA join fun?

January 12th, 2014 By Chris Reed.

Anti-fracking forces are gearing up in California, aided by our pathetic state media, which never mention that the Obama administration considers hydraulic fracturing to access natural gas and oil reserves to be just another heavy industry that can be made safe with routine regulation. But what's...

Bullet train fans learn CA enviros’ clout trumps building, trades unions

January 11th, 2014 By Chris Reed.

A few years ago, I began to think about how California's state government operated in terms of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, a famous 1943 paper about how humans prioritize what's important in their lives, starting with the basics -- the physical requirements for survival -- and moving up a list to t...

Twitter is atwitter over Gov’s budget

January 10th, 2014 By Katy Grimes.

Gov. Jerry Brown just released his budget for 2014 Thursday. Claiming fiscal restraint, the governor’s $155 billion spending plan increases the general fund, as well as significant spending in education and social services. Text Your Ex Back By Michael Fiore Free Pdf Following the budget pre...

Jobs crash endangers Brown budget

January 10th, 2014 By John Seiler.

Uh oh. Just a day after Gov. Jerry Brown's budget spending splurge proposal, the latest U.S. jobs numbers came in. Unemployment in December dropped to 6.7 percent, which is good. But only 74,000 jobs were created, which is really bad. That was way below expectations of 200,000 jobs created. ...

Brown still on loony, increasingly lonely bullet-train bandwagon

January 10th, 2014 By Chris Reed.

Cal Watchdog managing editor John Seiler and I were among the pundits who got a telephone budget briefing from Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday afternoon. I was disappointed but unsurprised to hear that the governor is still 1,000 percent on the bullet-train bandwagon. In the aftermath of Sacramento ...

How government really works

January 9th, 2014 By John Seiler.

Politicians and government bureaucrats always paint a wonderful picture of how great their policies and programs will work. Just give them more money, and nirvana will arrive. But sometimes, the government functionaries tell us what really goes on. Here's former Secretary of Defense Robert G...

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Know Your Bloggers

Joseph Perkins
Joseph Perkins, now assistant editor of the Orange County Register Opinion Pages, started his career as an editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal. After serving on the White House Staff of former Vice President Dan Quayle he wrote for the San Diego Union-Tribune where he authored a nationally-syndicated column. Before writing for, Mr. Perkins was also Business Editor for San Diego Magazine.
Chris Reed
Chris Reed is a regular contributor to Cal Watchdog. Reed is an editorial writer for U-T San Diego. Before joining the U-T in July 2005, he was the opinion-page columns editor and wrote the featured weekly Unspin column for The Orange County Register. Reed was on the national board of the Association of Opinion Page Editors from 2003-2005. From 2000 to 2005, Reed made more than 100 appearances as a featured news analyst on Los Angeles-area National Public Radio affiliate KPCC-FM. From 1990 to 1998, Reed was an editor, metro columnist and film critic at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario. Reed has a political science degree from the University of Hawaii (Hilo campus), where he edited the student newspaper, the Vulcan News, his senior year. He is on Twitter: @chrisreed99.
Brian Calle
Brian Calle is Editor-in-Chief of and the Opinion Editor for the Orange County Register. His work has appeared in Bloomberg, Fox News, Forbes, Real Clear Politics, Human Events, Real Clear Markets and City Journal, among other websites and publications. Find him on Twitter: @briancalle
John Seiler
John Seiler has been writing about California for 25 years. That includes 22 years as an editorial writer for the Orange County Register and two years for, where he is managing editor. He attended the University of Michigan and graduated from Hillsdale College. He was a Russian linguist in U.S. Army military intelligence from 1978 to 1982. He was an editor and writer for Phillips Publishing Company from 1983 to 1986. He has written for Policy Review, Chronicles,, Flash Report and numerous other publications. His email:

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