GOP Union Allies Humiliate Conway

JAN. 28, 2010


The three Assembly members who joined with Democrats at a union-sponsored rally to oppose government cuts to In-Home Supportive Services — Jim Silva of Huntington Beach, Brian Nestande of Palm Desert and Paul Cook of Yucca Valley — didn’t betray their conservative principles. They never had any such principles. But they did betray the GOP caucus and they did humiliate Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway, who either didn’t know that the officials were joining this press conference sponsored by left-wing union organizers or she couldn’t do anything to stop them. Nestande is Conway’s top lieutenant, so this is a huge embarrassment for the Republican leadership, which no longer has much credibility on budget matters.

If a top GOP leader is against cuts, then there’s not much left to do than to raise taxes. And how can Republicans now move forward with reforms to the waste-plagued, scandal-ridden and oftentimes abusive IHSS program if top Republicans oppose cuts to it at any cost?

It’s pretty amazing when Gov. Jerry Brown’s spokesperson has to remind Republicans of the need for budget cuts in tough times: “Cuts are never popular. We expect that this is the first in a series of bipartisan protests against the cuts that the governor has proposed.” Amen to that. It’s pretty bizarre when Brown outflanks Republicans on the right!

Meanwhile the three Republicans were perfectly comfortable standing in front of a union crowd that was chanting, “No more cuts.” So now that Silva, Nestande and Cook agree with the state’s most liberal elements that we cannot cut programs, especially not ones that they like (and there is a constituency that likes every program), then what choices are left? You can go on to each Assembly member’s Web site and find all the usual Republican blather about limiting government and holding  the line on taxes. Silva boasts that he signed a “no new taxes” pledge, but this is dishonest and craven at best.

If they believe in “no more cuts,” then taxes or debt have to go up. There are no other choices. And debt simply is a tax increase on future generations. At least the Democrats are honest when they call for higher taxes to pay for all these programs.

It’s ironic that these three pro-union Republicans would champion the IHSS program in particular. It’s a crazy wasteful program that ends up subsidizing family members to take care of their own.This is cradle-to-grave socialism at its most extreme and support for it undermines any claim of conservatism. Even the Los Angeles Times made the point about the system’s waste: “State-subsidized in-home care such as shopping, laundry and housework for the frail and disabled, often provided by family members living with the recipients, has been the object of GOP charges of waste and fraud, and assailed as a symbol of Democrats’ unrestrained appetite for spending.”

People get paid to clean their own house!

Check out the deep level of corruption in this program, as reported by the Schwarzenegger administration.  This is from a letter from the former governor to the Legislature regarding the program’s tendency to hire felons as caregivers:

“In 2009, we enacted a series of IHSS reforms to address fraud, waste and abuse in the program and ensure the benefits are going only to those who genuinely need them. One of the basic reforms was to require IHSS caregivers to undergo criminal background checks before they go into the private homes of elderly or disabled individuals to care for them. This simple requirement is standard protocol for almost every other licensed or certified professional in California. A good example is the requirement for all volunteers at public schools to receive a background check. No one questions the responsible policy of ensuring that children are protected, even when they are participating in after-school sporting events. How, then, can we continue to allow convicted felons to provide unsupervised care in a disabled or senior’s private home?”

The Schwarzenegger letter was in response to a Sacramento grand jury report that found: “At its best, [IHSS] is a dysfunctional system plagued by upper management who refuse to make meaningful changes or even look into matters that will be beneficial to the truly needy people [IHSS] is pledged to support. … The lack of fiscal controls and oversight at IHSS has made it an easy target for those who are greedy.”

Yet Silva, Cook and Nestande love the program and stand side-by-side with the unions that resist reforms. Listen to the selfish stupidity of Cook’s argument, as quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Well, it doesn’t take a magnifying glass — I’m pretty close. I won’t tell you how old I am, but I’m pretty close. And they say you have to be nice to your kids because they will pick out your nursing home. You should be nice to your loved ones, too, because they will pick out your In Home Supportive Services provider.”

Maybe it’s too much to expect statesmanship from this group, but one does expect an Assembly member to do a little better than, “Gee, I might want that program for myself.” The three GOP Assembly members were of course applauded by a progressive blog, which expressed the hopes that they will now drop their anti-tax pledges.

I’m not surprised by this. Cook is a tool of the prison guards union and Nestande is a big-government guy. I covered Jim Silva when he was an Orange County supervisor. Silva was as reliable a union vote as they come. Silva voted twice to retroactively increase pensions for union members and he defends those votes to this day — despite the evidence that his giveaways led to an enormous pension liability. Silva supported the county’s project labor agreement, the most wide-ranging union-monopoly agreement in the state because it gave all county work to unions. Silva was rewarded by the code enforcement officials’ association for his work giving them expanded police powers.

These three should at least dispense with the limited government, tax-limiting claptrap. They like big government. They like high taxes. Their rhetoric is dishonest — designed mainly to win over GOP voters. Now that Silva, for instance, wants to run for a Senate seat in an open primary, perhaps he made the calculation that he wants to lure Democratic voters. Who knows?

I missed Silva’s callback today, but will talk to him soon and include his explanations for his behavior.

State Sen. Juan Vargas of San Diego praised the men’s bravery and said he got to know some of them at a Bible study. Apparently, their support for these programs comes from their faith. There’s no doubt that Jesus preached the need to help the poor — but since when does that mean supporting taxation to pay for government workers to provide bureaucratic programs? There are many ways to help the poor voluntarily. Government often makes life tougher on the poor and keeps more people in poverty thanks to confiscatory rates of taxation and regulatory burdens that stifle enterprise and freedom. Unions are friends only of the workers, not of the recipients of their services. People shouldn’t be paid by the state to care for their own loved ones.

Well, at least we know which three Republicans are likely to support Democratic tax-raising budgets.


Write a comment
  1. Art Pedroza
    Art Pedroza 28 January, 2011, 15:27

    You are right. Jesus asked us to help the poor – from our own resources, not the government’s.

    The GOP is dead. They spend most of their time bashing migrants while they cozy up to the unions.

    I suggest your readers register DTS so that the red and blue parties will get the message.

    Reply this comment
  2. David from Oceanside
    David from Oceanside 28 January, 2011, 16:02


    Good idea.

    Reply this comment
  3. Buckley
    Buckley 28 January, 2011, 17:04

    Wow. I hope peole actually read the whole article and not take your slant as truth.

    Cook: “And they say you have to be nice to your kids because they will pick out your nursing home. You should be nice to your loved ones, too, because they will pick out your In Home Supportive Services provider.”

    Cook went on to add that the issue is important “because I don’t want to be dumped some place.”

    “I’m here because I’ve looked at the cost-benefit analysis, the costs associated with this,” he said.

    Nestande echoed that point, arguing that nursing homes cost up to five times more. He urged for reforms to make the program more efficient. And Silva threw aside his talking points, saying he’s “been living this issue the last 18 years” as a former Orange County Supervisor.

    “I know it’s more cost effective to have in-home care than to put somebody into a hospital or get them other treatment,” he said, adding that state government’s top responsibilities are public safety, education and health care. “Health is right at the top. This program cannot be cut, and I am going to do my best to convince my colleagues in the Legislature. There are a lot of areas we can cut, but IHSS is not one of them.”

    But the fact IHSS saves money and there many more non-partisan reports that contradict Schwarzenegger’s fraud claims, doesn’t really fit with your labor bashing, anti-government agenda. Glad I dont come here for actual reporting.

    Reply this comment
  4. stevefromsacto
    stevefromsacto 28 January, 2011, 17:18

    OMG! Bipartisanship! The end of civilization as we know it. Lighten up, Steve. None of the brave three said a word about raising taxes. They said that there are better ways to make budget cuts than this program, which is one of the most cost-effective in government. It costs taxpayers five times more to pay for nursing home care than home care.
    As to embarrassing Conway, any politician who isn’t willing to work together with his or her colleagues to solve our state’s problems deserves it.

    Reply this comment
  5. stevefromsacto
    stevefromsacto 28 January, 2011, 17:22

    And it is amazing how you bashed Schwarzenegger for years but use his anti-fraud b.s. when it suits your purposes.
    Despite his outrageous claims, no one has ever proven significant fraud in this program. But leave it to y’all to scream “welfare queen” when you don’t have the facts to back it up.

    Reply this comment
  6. John Seiler
    John Seiler 28 January, 2011, 19:44

    This is just the beginning of the cuts. The tax base keeps eroding. Unemployment has risen to 12.5%, second after Nevada. Even Michigan now is better. A revolution is brewing against the wastrel tyrants in government. Tunisia yesterday. Egypt today. California tomorrow.

    Reply this comment
  7. John Seiler
    John Seiler 28 January, 2011, 19:52

    Steve Greenhut wrote: “State Sen. Juan Vargas of San Diego praised the men’s bravery and said he got to know some of them at a Bible study. Apparently, their support for these programs comes from their faith.”

    And apparently they didn’t read these passages while effectively bankrupting California with high spending and debt:

    Deuterotomy 15:6: “For the LORD your God will bless you as He has promised you, and you will lend to many nations, but you will not borrow; and you will rule over many nations, but they will not rule over you.” (NASB)

    Deuterotomy 28:12: “The LORD will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.” (NASB)

    Romans 13:8 “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” (KJV)

    Reply this comment
  8. brian nestande
    brian nestande 28 January, 2011, 21:10

    A simple phone call to me would allowed you to avoid printing miss-information. I had told Connie Conway about our appearance at the press conference ahead of time.
    Furthermore look up why Ronald Reagan signed the bill to create the program, then call me and we can have a discussion about the right way to improve the program and save money.
    Be careful about who is feeding you information and what their motives might be. Call anytime.
    Take Care,
    Brian Nestande

    Reply this comment
  9. Shame on Me
    Shame on Me 29 January, 2011, 09:29

    Excellent piece. IHSS is riddled with elder-abusing family member/caregivers.

    Reply this comment
  10. lee timmerman
    lee timmerman 29 January, 2011, 11:43

    To Brian Nestande, Steve Fromsacto, and the other liars, thieves, and government whores. Your time is limited, whether from God, or the people saying enough, you will be done. The Bible is simple, honor thy parents. It is our responsibility to care for our parents, not the State or the taxpayers. Thomas Jefferson said when it comes to assistance it should always start with family, church, the local community, and in extreme emergencies the State. He believed it would be a rare disaster that would require the Federal government to step in with assistance. As for Ronald Reagan, he started the program for those who truly needed assistance, not becoming ANOTHER WHORING UNION. As for Steve’s half-wit comments there is no proven significant fraud proven. What is significant to a fool. I was a Police Officer for 28 years. I do not have the time and space to go into the horror stories I saw being done to our elders. But it was proven in court, with the number of convictions I won against these unproven insignificant frauds. I guess Nestande and Fromsacto know better than God or Thomas Jefferson!!!

    Reply this comment
  11. Allan Bartlett
    Allan Bartlett 29 January, 2011, 11:45

    That comment by Assemblyman Nestande is typical of an entrenched cozy big government Republican. You’re right Brian. We just don’t get it and don’t understand, do we. I’ll bet good money that one of you three Republican stooges will provide the needed votes for higher taxes in a few months.

    Reply this comment
  12. John
    John 29 January, 2011, 11:51

    “There are better ways to make cuts than to these programs.”

    The only way to trim $26+ billion without raising taxes is to be willing to make cuts to everything. Government programs are only sacred to Democrats. Silva, Cook and Nestande’s actions show that they are not Republicans.

    I’ts time for new GOP leadership in Sacramento.

    Reply this comment
  13. surfcitybob
    surfcitybob 29 January, 2011, 12:32

    I have never voted for Jim Silva! He voted for the retroactive pension increase that the courts just threw out OC’s appeal of. I voted for his dimocrat opponent in the last election! Arnold was the first RINO to get me to vote dimocrat, Silva was the second union stooge to get me to vote that way.

    Reply this comment
  14. Mike Morrell
    Mike Morrell 29 January, 2011, 16:16

    Since Mr. Seiler is quoting scritures, here’s s few thoughts I’ll share: Those ancient texts
    written for Israel and Christians contain 205 verses to help the poor. In fact we’re commanded to do this. But, the important thing to read is that 204 of those verses, God commands His people and His church to perform this task; NOT GOVERNMENT. The only time government is to be involved is giving equal justice to the poor as they would the rich. Sincerely, Mike Morrell

    Reply this comment
  15. John Seiler
    John Seiler 29 January, 2011, 20:18

    Whatever good Reagan did as president, he was TERRIBLE as governor. Here’s what I wrote here in March 2010 on
    As governor, Reagan broke his campaign promise against taxes, and imposed $1 billion in tax hikes — the equivalent, factoring inflation and population growth, to $20 billion today, more than Arnold’s $13 billion in tax hikes last year [2009].

    Campaigning for governor in 1966, Reagan promised that his feet were “in concrete” against imposing the onerous withholding scheme on Californians, in which their state taxes were paid with each paycheck, instead of once a year. Once elected, he broke that pledge, quipping, “The sound you hear is the concrete cracking around my feet.”

    He was terrible on spending, too. His first budget, fiscal 1966-67, rose an incredible 17%, then was followed by increases of 8%, 19% (!) and 14%.

    So in Reagan’s first term as governor, spending rose an incredible 73%. Even Govs. Davis and Schwarzenegger, spendthrifts that they have been, never got that high, only making it to 15% twice for Davis and once for Arnold.

    Reagan’s broken promises and spendthrift ways were detailed in “Here’s the Rest of Him,” an old book from 1968 by Kent Steffgen.

    Reply this comment
  16. Roy Bleckert
    Roy Bleckert 29 January, 2011, 21:42


    I spoke with Madhavi & Jennings from your office on Friday , I have some major concerns with your position on In-Home Supportive Services & the SEIU

    Not matter how well intentioned a Government program starts out, it invariably winds up in graft & corruption

    And the Taxpayer Pays

    Ronnie also said “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help”.

    If you want all these government programs to take care of every ill of mankind , then be honest about what taxes you want to raise to pay for them.

    Also go back & listen to Ronnie’s 1964 speech A Time for Choosing & see if he does not warn of the Corp. Welfare that has become known as Redevelopment ?

    We in Ca. should be getting rid of individual welfare & corp. welfare if We are serious about turning Ca. back to The Golden State !

    Reply this comment
  17. Ted Lawrence
    Ted Lawrence 30 January, 2011, 07:38

    Perhaps if Republicans will produce the cuts they support, there would be more respect for their position. But until they quit dodging their responsibility to be upfront with their bosses, the people of California, no one pays any attention to them because everyone knows they are nothing but grandstanders.

    Reply this comment
  18. stevefromsacto
    stevefromsacto 30 January, 2011, 16:43

    Unbelievable that Herr Timmerman would cite the name of God in his screed against any who disagrees with him.

    Jesus said: “Whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me.” Guess you skipped that page, eh, Lee.

    And congratulations on your career busting the elderly and disabled. Must have given you a great feeling of power.

    Lastly, you used the word “whore” numerous times. I’ll leave it to others to determine why.

    Reply this comment
  19. stevefromsacto
    stevefromsacto 30 January, 2011, 16:52

    C’mon, John, quit ignoring the facts.

    IHSS saves taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year over the cost of nursing home care. If you really wanted to save taxpayers money, you would be working to get people out of nursing homes and into IHSS homecare instead. That’s what Nestande, Cook and Silva were trying to say.

    Of course, if you believe that ANY government spending is wrong, you won’t be convinced by this argument. Fortunately, the vast majority of Californians don’t agree with that.

    Reply this comment

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