Come On, Get Happy: New Happiness Study Released

A new happiness study from researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver found that some people are still willing to relocate to the unhappiest U.S. cities for good job opportunities or lower housing prices.

The research by UBC’s Edward L. Glaeser, Joshua D. Gottlieb and Oren Ziv suggests some people are willing to trade happiness for other gains. Their findings are in a working paper called “Unhappy Cities.” The U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research released the working paper last week. The San Diego metropolitan region on the researchers’ map was found to be somewhat unhappy.

Come On, Get Happy

CelebrateI feel lucky to have been born and raised in one of the happiest areas of the USA. Middlesex-Somerset-Hunterdon, NJ are the three counties right in the middle of the Garden State that make up what we fondly call Central Jersey. The census takers and other statisticians call Central Jersey a PMSA, which stands for Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area. A PMSA has a combined population of 1 million or more.

It’s no wonder those of us from Central Jersey are optimistic, genuine, friendly and enjoy life! We hail from one of the happiest areas of the United States.

It’s common knowledge that Middlesex-Somerset-Hunterdon, NJ holds top ranking as one of the most affluent areas of the USA with excellent financial fitness. Financial fitness includes low consumer debt, high savings, high employment opportunities and high real personal disposable income. Real personal disposable income is the amount of income ultimately available to families for personal expenditures, savings and investments.

My roots in this happy Central Jersey region run deep. My German ancestors settled Hunterdon County in the early 1700s. They fought in the American Revolution and our family has had relatives in every war or conflict since the founding of our Great Nation. Ours is a beautiful area full of American history. The undeveloped areas are full of rolling hills, rivers, lakes, streams, horse country and old farmland. The developed areas offer excellent job opportunities, good transportation and other benefits for residents. Proximity to the City (NYC) and the Shore (pristine NJ white sand beaches) are two such benefits we enjoy.

The Happiness Trade-Off. What Does It Mean For Our San Diego Region?

Bubbles of soapThe conclusions of the UBC researchers are relevant for politicians and planners alike in our San Diego region. Some people may be willing to trade happiness for other gains. But those other gains are good job opportunities or lower housing prices.

Our San Diego region has limited job opportunities and high housing prices. As such, it’s not likely that we’ll attract young people unless we inject jobs into our region and limit development greed that prices young people out of the housing market. Offering better transportation services would attract more people to our region.

As I’ve long championed, extended Ferry Service around the San Diego Bay integrated with improved MTS bus service for Coronado would improve our regional economy. Coronado is important to the economy of our region because we have two of the three economic clusters of our San Diego region — U.S. military and tourism. The third cluster is located at and around UC San Diego in Hillcrest and La Jolla — academic research-medical technology.

Where the Happy People Live

Here are the happiest, and the unhappiest, areas of the USA according to the UBC happiness research:

Top 10 happiest metropolitan areas with a population greater than 1 million (as of 2010):
1. Richmond-Petersburg, VA
2. Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News, VA
3. Washington, DC
4. Raleigh-Durham, NC
5. Atlanta, GA
6. Houston, TX
7. Jacksonville, FL
8. Nashville, TN
9. West Palm Beach-Boca Raton, FL
10. Middlesex-Somerset-Hunterdon, NJ

U.S. metropolitan areas with the highest reported happiness:
1. Charlottesville, VA
2. Rochester, MN
3. Lafayette, LA
4. Naples, FL
5. Baton Rouge, LA
6. Flagstaff, AZ
7. Shreveport, LA
8. Houma, LA
9. Corpus Christi, TX
10. Provo, UT

Where the Unhappy People Live

Top 10 unhappiest metropolitan areas with a population greater than 1 million (as of 2010):
1. New York, NY
2. Pittsburgh, PA
3. Louisville, KY
4. Milwaukee, WI
5. Detroit, MI
6. Indianapolis, IN
7. St. Louis, MO
8. Las Vegas, NV
9. Buffalo, NY
10. Philadelphia, PA

The least happy American regions are:
1. Scranton, PA
2. St. Joseph, MO
3. Erie, PA
4. South Bend, IN
5. Jersey City, NJ
6. Johnstown, PA
7. Non-metropolitan West Virginia
8. Springfield, MA
9. New York, NY
10. Evansville-Henderson, IN-KY

To read more about the UBC study, read the 22 July 2014 article by clicking here. To receive the entire working paper “Unhappy Cities” for your review, order it online from the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research for a $5 email delivery fee by clicking here.

Copyright © 2014 Barbara Denny, Esq.

Weak Response to California Drought Explained

Have government neglect and corporate greed led to California’s tepid response to our serious three-year drought?  In a word, yes.  

Why Aren’t We Doing Something Positive to Address the Drought?

In his 20 July 2014 article in entitled Why Has the Response to the California Drought Been so Weak?, Peter Gleick writes:

Water drops ripples and green leavesIn the past few weeks, I have had been asked the same question by reporters, friends, strangers, and even a colleague who posts regularly on this very ScienceBlogs site (the prolific and thoughtful Greg Laden): why, if the California drought is so bad, has the response been so tepid?

There is no single answer to this question (and of course, it presumes (1) that the drought is bad; and (2) the response has been tepid). In many ways, the response is as complicated as California’s water system itself, with widely and wildly diverse sources of water, uses of water, prices and water rights, demands, institutions, and more. But here are some overlapping and relevant answers.

First, is the drought actually very bad?

Even this question is complicated. If you look at the well-known Drought Monitor for California weekly maps, the answer is clearly “yes.” 80% of the state is in “extreme” to “extraordinary” drought and 100% of the state is in “severe” drought or worse. Other indicators also show the severity of the drought. This year will be one of the driest on record, as was 2013. Reservoirs are at record low levels. Deliveries of surface water to some farmers are lower than at any time in recent history. Streams are drying up and fisheries are being devastated.

Yet water still comes out of my tap, in unrestricted amounts and superb quality, at a reasonable price. And this is true of every resident in the state: drinking water supplies have not been affected, especially for the vast majority of the population that lives in cities of the San Francisco Bay area, Central Valley, and southern California.

While there will be some adverse impacts of some farmworkers and farmers, the overall agricultural sector will not have a bad year. Some farmworkers will be out of work this summer and fall, some farmers will be forced to fallow land because of the lack of water, and others will have higher costs associated with the need to replace surface water shortages with temporary groundwater pumping. But initial estimates from the University of California, Davis, the agricultural community as a whole will not see very large losses – a drop of perhaps 4% or so of normal farm revenue. It might be more; it might be much less. We won’t know until the end of the growing and harvest seasons.

In effect, despite our continuing water wars, the State of California’s economy has become largely insulated from the effects of short-term drought – even droughts of a few years. The agricultural sector, which consumes 80% or more of the water that humans use here, only produces $40 billion out of a total gross state product of over $2 trillion – 2 percent.

Has the response to the drought been tepid, and if so, why?

In January, Governor Brown declared a drought emergency. Terrific. That was the right thing to do. But it was not followed by any systematic statewide communications effort, any requirement for mandatory cutbacks, or any comprehensive information on how homeowners or businesses could save water. Other than an occasional billboard urging people to stop wasting water, or an occasional newspaper article about the drought, I have gotten little or no information from my water utility urging (or requiring) me to cut my water use, no detailed information telling me what I can do to save water, and no imposition of mandatory restrictions, except in a few small areas.

The Governor, at the same time, announced the availability of emergency funds of up to nearly $700 million for drought response. Yet now, half a year later and in the hottest, driest part of the year, a tiny fraction of that money has been spent, and very little on the most effective strategies for saving water: rapid and immediate conservation and efficiency programs to help farmers swap out inefficient irrigation technologies for modern efficient ones, or to get homeowners to permanently remove lawns or inefficient toilets, showerheads, and washing machines – to name just a few proven, cost-effective strategies.

Some water utilities don’t like to impose drought restrictions because they have still failed to meter 100% of their customers, so there is no way to measure or monitor demands for savings. Or they fear that conservation efforts simply cut revenues, which force them to raise rates to cover their operating expenses – an action that sours customers on further conservation efforts. (This does happen, but it is a failure of utilities to implement effective water rate structures that can encourage conservation while still satisfying revenue needs: see here for information on strategies to avoid this).

Some farmers have “senior water rights” and will get all or most of the water they need this year. These farmers have no incentive to conserve water or use it more efficiently – and the media and the public do not hear from them. Instead, the public only hears from junior water-rights holders who have posted highly visible signs along Highway 5 in the Central Valley decrying the “Congress created dust bowl” or other catchy phrases that try to place political blame for natural events. These actually come from a tiny part of California’s agricultural community who know that they cannot get all of the water they want (as junior water rights holders), even in normal water years, because the state has given away far more water than nature reliably provides.

These signs are common along Highway 5 in California’s Central Valley, especially where junior water-rights holders have land that won’t get water during droughts. Ironically, this one is placed right in front of a newly planted almond orchard.

These signs are common along Highway 5 in California’s Central Valley, especially where junior water-rights holders have land that won’t get water during droughts. Ironically, this one is placed right in front of a newly planted almond orchard.

So, for now, we muddle through with mostly voluntary exhortations to cut water use, some new mandatory penalties for egregious water wasters (though even these mandatory penalties will be largely unenforced and largely ineffective at reducing water waste), and a lot of wishful thinking that El Niño will bail us out next year.

That could happen. But it might not. If next year is also dry, the shit is going to start to hit the fan. Our reserves and marginal sources of water are gone or going. Our reliance on groundwater overdraft cannot continue without destroying aquifers and streams that depend on groundwater flow. The richest farmers and communities will begin to pay (as they are starting to now) premium prices to buy water from other farmers or to take advantage of loopholes that exempt groundwater from regulation, monitoring, and management, at the expense of poorer farmers and communities who cannot drill million-dollar wells. And more and more people will be at risk of waking up, turning on the tap, and getting nothing but air.

In short, the tepid response will turn into panic and pressure to take actions, even if those actions are inappropriate (like letting fisheries and ecosystems die) or could have been avoided had we done the smart things we should have done earlier.

For photos accompanying this article and the 15 July 2014 California drought graphic, click here.

© Copyright 2014 Barbara Denny, Esq.

Feline Friday: World’s Most Interesting Cat Face

Venus is a beautiful tortoiseshell cat with a beautiful face.  She is a chimera cat.  Half of her face is black fur, the other half is orange tabby fur. A chimera is a single organism composed of genetically distinct cells. Venus is also heterochromatic. She has one green eye and one blue eye. For more about this special feline, go to by clicking here.

© 2014 Barbara Denny, Esq.



MTS Commissioner Requests More Bus Service for Coronado

MTS busAs a Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) Commissioner for Coronado, here is the statement I made on the record during yesterday’s Board meeting in San Diego:

Scarcely a week goes by when at least one resident, but sometimes more than one, approaches me with their concern about the need for more MTS service in Coronado. Coronado residents want more bus service for the Village, Shores and Cays. I want to make sure that my colleagues on this Commission and everyone here at MTS are aware of this. Thank you. 

I’m proud to work for the best interests of Coronado residents at MTS.

© 2014 Barbara Denny, Esq.


CalPERS Scandal Simmers This Summer

CalPERS, the California Public Employee Retirement System, has failed government employees who deserve so much better. The latest revelations likely are just the tip of the iceberg in the culture of corruption at CalPERS. The last CEO of CalPERS, a former California State Director of Personnel, has pleaded guilty to taking large and small bribes, $250,000 cash in envelopes and a shoe box, payment for his wedding, a worldwide trip, rooms at  two Tahoe casinos, a job for $25,000 per month once he left CalPERS; illegally awarding contracts; and conspiring to cover up his crimes. Justice will be served this fall in the criminal case against him.

rue Color ImageHow does this affect Coronado? Our off-balance-sheet Pension Debts are approximately $300 million. It’s unrealistic to expect CalPERS to give us the honest amount of Coronado’s Pension Debts in a timely manner to disclose to the public on the city books. This means that our city will continue to keep Coronado taxpayers in the dark about the staggering Pension Debts for which Coronado taxpayers are responsible. And Coronado politicians will continue to kick the can and spend, spend, spend your tax dollars on annual budget plans filled with fat and gross waste.

In his article in the Sacremento Bee on 11 July 2014, Dale Kasler wrote:

The first two payments were made in paper bags. The last installment came in a shoebox. The handoffs all came at a Sacramento hotel near the Capitol.

In a stunning admission covering years of corruption, the former chief executive of CalPERS said Friday he accepted $200,000 in cash, along with a series of other bribes, from a Lake Tahoe businessman who was attempting to influence billions of dollars in pension fund investment decisions.

Fred Buenrostro, who ran the nation’s largest public pension fund from 2002 to 2008, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to a charge of conspiracy to commit bribery and fraud. He has agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors as they pursue charges against his longtime friend, Nevada businessman Alfred Villalobos, a former CalPERS board member.

Buenrostro, 64, said that Villalobos plied him with casino chips and a trip around the world, plus a high-paying job with his investment firm after leaving CalPERS. He also admitted working with Villalobos to create phony documents to ensure that Villalobos earned his multimillion-dollar fees representing a Wall Street private equity firm seeking CalPERS investments.

Most of those allegations had been aired publicly already. What was new Friday was the blockbuster admission that Buenrostro took $200,000 in cash from Villalobos. In his written plea agreement, Buenrostro said Villalobos paid him in three installments in 2007, “all of which was delivered directly to me in the Hyatt hotel in downtown Sacramento across from the Capitol.”

According to Buenrostro, Villalobos told him to be careful how he deposited the cash in order to avoid detection by banking authorities. “Villalobos told me to be sure to ‘shuffle’ the currency before making any deposit, as the bills were new and appeared to be in sequential order,” Buenrostro wrote.

Later, after he’d left CalPERS and the investigation into their relationship gained momentum, Buenrostro said he accepted an additional $50,000 from Villalobos, paid by check.

The former CEO’s guilty plea is the latest chapter in a corruption scandal that first surfaced in 2009 at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. Documents showed that Villalobos, a former deputy mayor of Los Angeles, had earned $50 million helping his Wall Street clients win investments from CalPERS over several years.

“We condemn the misconduct and ethical breaches admitted today by Mr. Buenrostro,” CalPERS said in a prepared statement. “CalPERS looks forward to justice being served in this case and for the individuals involved to be held accountable for their actions.”

After years of denying any wrongdoing, Buenrostro faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he’s sentenced Jan. 7. He remains free on bond.

“There is no question that the chickens have come home to roost for Mr. Buenrostro,” said his lawyer, William Portanova of Sacramento, after a brief court hearing. “He is starting a new chapter in his life. He is a 64-year-old man who is ready to tell all.” Buenrostro declined to comment as he left the courtroom.

His old friend Villalobos will continue to fight charges filed in the case, said Villalobos’ defense attorney Bruce Funk.

“We don’t think there’s any truthful information (Buenrostro) could give that could affect Mr. Villalobos,” Funk said after the court hearing.

The criminal trial was supposed to begin earlier this week with jury selection. Instead, it has been postponed, probably until the fall. Villalobos, 70, is in poor health and wasn’t in court Friday. He listened to the proceedings by phone.

Buenrostro, in his plea agreement, admitted taking bribes large and small. He let Villalobos host and pay for his 2004 wedding at Lake Tahoe. Villalobos took Buenrostro and a CalPERS board member on a 2006 worldwide trip. (The member isn’t identified in the plea agreement, but a state lawsuit filed in 2010 identified him as Charles Valdes, who has since left the board.)

Villalobos paid for his rooms at two Tahoe casinos, Harveys and Harrah’s. And Villalobos delivered on a promise of a $25,000-a-month job for Buenrostro after the CEO left CalPERS in 2008. The job ended two years later, about the time Villalobos and his company filed for bankruptcy.

In 2005, Buenrostro said he watched Villalobos give casino chips to certain CalPERS board members and to Buenrostro’s wife. At the time, CalPERS was considering awarding a pharmacy contract to a health care company.

Buenrostro didn’t identify the company, and said the board members are no longer at CalPERS. In 2011, CalPERS fired a New Jersey drug-distributor, Medco Health Solutions, after it was revealed that Medco had paid Villalobos about $4 million to help win a contract to supply pharmaceuticals to CalPERS members. The firm, which was later sold, paid a $2.7 million fine to settle a state investigation but didn’t admit any wrongdoing.

In addition, Buenrostro said he worked with Villalobos to “cover up the evidence of our corrupt relationship by concealing and destroying records.” In 2010, after he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during questioning by Securities and Exchange Commission investigators, Buenrostro said, he received a $50,000 check from Villalobos.

Buenrostro said the $50,000 was supposedly a loan, but Villalobos told him he probably wouldn’t have to repay it.

If Buenrostro had gone to trial and been convicted on all charges, he was facing up to 40 years in prison. The conspiracy charge to which he admitted carries a five-year maximum penalty. So far the prosecutors haven’t made any sentencing recommendation, but agreed to ask for a reduced sentence based on Buenrostro’s “truthful cooperation,” said his lawyer Portanova. U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer will sentence him.

The original indictment was fairly narrow. It focused mainly on a series of letters Buenrostro said he created on CalPERS stationery at Villalobos’ behest.

Villalobos’ most important client, Apollo Global Management, had demanded disclosure letters in which the pension fund said it realized that Villalobos would earn fees from Apollo if the firm got CalPERS investments. When he couldn’t get a CalPERS investment officer to sign a disclosure letter, Villalobos turned to Buenrostro, who put together the letters on the pension fund’s stationery, according to the plea agreement.

Buenrostro said no one at CalPERS saw the letters, which Villalobos then mailed to Apollo. The firm got $3 billion of CalPERS’ money in 2007 and 2008, and Villalobos earned fees of $14 million. Apollo has said it wasn’t aware of any wrongdoing.

An investigative report commissioned by CalPERS said it was unlikely that Villalobos and Buenrostro were able to steer investment dollars to Villalobos’ clients. But the report, by Washington, D.C., securities attorney Philip Khinda, said Villalobos’ clients probably charged CalPERS millions of dollars in extra investment-management fees to compensate for the money they paid Villalobos.

The guilty plea marked the latest chapter in the downfall of Buenrostro, a longtime state employee and former deputy director of the state Department of Personnel Administration who became CalPERS CEO in 2002.

Because of his guilty plea to a felony, Buenrostro could have to forfeit a portion of his CalPERS pension, said fund spokesman Brad Pacheco. The amount is to be determined, he said.

You can also read the SacBee story by clicking here.

© 2014 Barbara Denny, Esq.

Stop the $3.3 Billion Bailout for SDG&E, Another Ratepayer Rip-Off

Are you tired of bailing out the likes of Wall Street banks and others who deserve to fail because of their personal greed and voluntary bad choices?  Coronado ratepayers have an opportunity to voice your opposition to SDG&E’s proposed $3.3 billion San Onofre nuclear plant bailout this Thursday July 17 at 3 pm at the San Diego Library branch on Fenton Parkway in Mission Valley.

rue Color ImageJuly 15, 2014

Stop the San Onofre $3.3B Nuclear Bailout!

Ratepayer Advocates Host Public Meeting In San Diego

WHEN: Thursday, July 17, 2014, 3-4:30pm
WHERE: Mission Valley Library, 2123 Fenton Parkway , San Diego CA 92108 (Next to IKEA)
SAN DIEGO (2014-07-15) – Opponents to the proposed $3.3 billion San Onofre settlement will host a public meeting in San Diego to shine a bright light on the back-room settlement and explain why it is a ratepayer rip-off. The meeting will be held at the Mission Valley branch of the San Diego Public Library, located next to IKEA in mission valley, Thursday July 17, from 3 to 4:30 pm.

The public is welcome but seating is limited to the first 100 attendees. Doors open at 2:45, so arrive early to get a seat.

The event will be webcast at this url:

Tax bill worry b&w

Ratepayer advocates will make presentations and open up the floor to comments. Speakers include Ray Lutz, National Coordinator for COPS, and Mike Aguirre, counsel for a party in the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) San Onofre proceedings. In addition to the public, all candidates, elected and appointed officials are invited to attend, as this settlement will push up utility costs even higher than sky-high costs already a fact of life in California.

The CPUC held a public meeting in Costa Mesa, 35 miles north of the San Onofre Nuclear Station, but have refused to also hold a public meeting in San Diego County. Opponents to the settlement were limited to only 20 minutes, could not distribute materials in the room, and could not make a powerpoint presentation. This meeting will allow the opponents to the settlement sufficient time to make the case against the settlement in a venue convenient for San Diego County ratepayers.

“The worst thing about the settlement agreement is the fact that the CPUC investigation into the failure at San Onofre is stopped dead,” said Ray Lutz, national coordinator for COPS. “ CPUC proceedings were structured so that the Phase 3 investigation into the events that led to the failure at San Onofre Nuclear Station was not even started, although the Commission spent 18 months investigating side issues: what happened after the failure, toying with equations for replacement power costs, and reviewing how much of the failed plant was still ‘used and useful’. “Without a comprehensive review, no lessons are learned and mistakes will be repeated,” Lutz said.

Government cloak of secrecy

“It’s simple. We are trying to save ratepayers up to $3.3 billion in their electric rates. SCE and SDG&E want us ratepayers to continue to pay for the abandoned plant, to cover not only their investment, but also provide a healthy return on investment “profit” as well,” continued Lutz, and a party in the CPUC investigation under the banner of the Coalition to Decommission San Onofre. “Paying for a plant — with profit — that is not operating for another ten years is well beyond what the average citizen believes is fair and appropriate.”

Michael Aguirre, former City Attorney for San Diego and counsel for a party at the proceeding commented, “We believe not only that the settlement is unfair, but it was negotiated in a manner contrary to class-action law. SCE President Ron Litzinger admitted under oath that the record of the proceeding contains nothing to support proper review by the Commission so as to allow approval. The settlement should not be approved and the proceedings should continue, and proper negotiations held.”

No pay to playAn investigation by Aguirre uncovered the fact that the CPUC had hired a consultant to provide a technical review of the facts surrounding the shutdown, but then inextricably pulled that contract in February, prior to the announcement of the settlement agreement. “This suggests CPUC officials were improperly aware of the settlement prior to the public announcement on March 27, and alludes to official complicity in the coverup,” Aguirre said.

The abbreviated 3-hour evidentiary hearing on May 14th included an extensive cross examination by Aguirre, culminating in cursing and yelling by Commission President Peevey when he was put on the spot regarding any secret and unlawful ex parte meetings with SCE during the many months of settlement negotiation. This outburst has become a YouTube sensation, with some groups even making a cell phone ring tone of his words, “I don’t have to answer your questions. I don’t have to answer your goddamned questions, now Shut up! Shut up!!”

Key clips of the cross examination (including Peevey’s outburst) can be found on YouTube at this URL:

A video version of the presentation by COPS can be viewed on line at

Ratepayer advocates request that the public communicate their displeasure with the bailout settlement by emailing

Facebook event – please join and get on the list of attendees

The Coalition to Decommission San Onofre is a project of Citizens Oversight, Inc. also known as Citizens Oversight Projects, or COPS. Ray Lutz is a founder of the organization, which focuses on promoting civic engagement, and has been involved in many success stories, including helping to stop the expansion of Blackwater in San Diego County and the shut down of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, of course with the involvement of the local community in each case.

[PLS NOTE: Ending time changed to 4:30 to allow attendees to make it to Oceanside for San Onofre CEP meeting at 6pm.]

Contact: Ray Lutz

© 2014 Barbara Denny, Esq.

Top 5 Taxes You May See on 2016 Ballot in California

Experience shows that the only way to make government live within its means is to stop government officials from increasing your taxes. 

If you're in a hole, stop digging

The first law of holes: If you’re in one, stop digging.

As long as elected officials have the power to tax, they don’t have to worry about managing public finances in a responsible and conservative manner.  Even if they could understand the complexities of public finance, their determined pursuit of their own self-interests combined with their glaring disregard of the best interests of the public would still have them spend, spend, spend taxpayers into a bottomless hole.

That’s right.  Government officials dig taxpayers into a bottomless debt hole while in office.  Then they walk away from office — personally enriched in so many ways, of course.

Here’s a good article by Joel Fox about the top 5 taxes you may see on the 2016 ballot in California.

Top 5 Taxes You May See on 2016 Ballot

By Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee
Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Like meteorologists tracking distant storms heading their way, some folks in Sacramento are watching for signs that tax increases are building momentum for the 2016 ballot when the Proposition 30 temporary taxes begin to fade away.

Now that this year’s state budget is done with increased spending in place, and the promise for more spending if revenue exceeds expectations, how are the programs going to be funded if there is a dip in the economic cycle or the temporary taxes disappear? Tax increases are one way and members of the majority party and the interests that support them are not shy about talking about possible tax increases. There are also those interests considering the tax route to discourage the use of certain goods or products.

Looking into a crystal ball that admittedly has a couple of cracks in it, here’s a list of possible tax increases that could appear on the 2016 ballot. Or could we see more than one?

5. SODA TAX. The push is on to raise taxes on sweetened beverages. Proponents say it is a health issue to end the scourge of diabetes and obesity. The warning label on soda bill the legislature considered this year is the first step in softening the ground for such a move.

4. CIGARETTE TAX. An old reliable. It has appeared on the California ballot a number of times since the late 1990s, winning some and losing some. Most recently, Proposition 29 in 2012 came within six-tenths of one percent of passing. Proponents would like another crack at it.

3. OIL SEVERANCE TAX. You’ve heard the charge: California is the only state that doesn’t levy such a tax, regardless of other taxes burdening the oil producing industry. Now supporters have deep pockets in their corner with billionaire Tom Steyer, who has stated he wants to discourage the use of carbon fuels and see an oil tax. While another deep pocket supporter, Stephen Bing, was defeated in his ballot effort to gain an oil severance tax in 2006 that won’t discourage Steyer.

2. SPLIT ROLL. The goal of those who desired increased government revenue for the 36 years Proposition 13 has been in place, a split roll would tax business property on a different basis than residential property. Unlike the aforementioned taxes that proponents probably would designate the use of some or all of the revenue, the property taxes would go to local government functions, especially schools, relieving some state obligations.

1. MAKE PERMANENT PROP 30 TAXES. Or at least continue the income tax portion of Prop 30, which brings in the bulk of the revenue. It is the easiest route for tax raiser to go – maintain the status quo and tax the rich, an effective campaign slogan when Prop 30 passed in 2012.

Read the original article by clicking here.

© 2014 Barbara Denny, Esq.

Coronado City Council & Coronado Redevelopment Successor Agency Agenda for 15 July 2014

Your proposed 60% sewer tax hike (!!!), Senior Center plans, Firefighters’ labor agreement, city employee salary plan changes, estimated $500 million Golf Course irrigation project proposal, an expensive Change Work Order on the 3rd & 4th Streets drainage project, Coronado Hospital presentation, the pricey Stormwater project proposed to go out to bid, Avenue of Heroes on 3rd & 4th Streets and more. 

Agenda icon yellowBelow is the outline agenda for our meeting on Tuesday.  It gives you the basic agenda items.

You also can view the complete agenda packet by clicking here.

Why would a resident want to view the complete agenda packet?  To read the draft minutes from the last meeting and to read the city staff reports and recommendations for each agenda item.



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Coronado City Hall Council Chambers 1825 Strand Way Coronado, California 92118


In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), if you need special assistance to participate in a City meeting or other services offered by this City, please contact the City Clerk’s office, (619) 522-7320. Assisted listening devices are available at this meeting. Ask the City Clerk if you desire to use this device. Upon request, the agenda and documents in the agenda packet can be made available in appropriate alternative formats to persons with a disability. Notification of at least 48 hours prior to the meeting or time when services are needed will assist the City staff in assuring that reasonable arrangements can be made to provide accessibility to the meeting or service.



    AUTHORITY: Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(2)
    Facts and circumstances need not be disclosed pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9(e)(1)One (1) potential case
  2. CLOSED SESSION: CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL – EXISTINGLITIGATIONAUTHORITY: Government Code Section 54956.9(a) NAME OF CASE: Jane Underwood v. City of CoronadoSan Diego Superior Court (Case No. 37-2014-00008463-CU- PA-CTL)
    CITY NEGOTIATORS: Blair King, City Manager; Tom Ritter, AssistantCityManager; LeslieSuelter, Director of Administrative Services;Johanna Canlas, City Attorney
    EMPLOYEE ORGANIZATIONS: Coronado Police Officers’ Association;Coronado Firefighters’ Association; American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Local 127; Self-Represented Employees; and Executive Employees
  2. COMMUNICATIONS – ORAL: Each person wishing to speak before the City Council

on only matters listed on this agenda shall approach the City Council, give their name, and limit their presentation to 3 minutes.


REGULAR MEETING (SA items are denoted by an *.) – 4 P.M.



a. Proclamation: Oz Con International Week. (Pg 1)

Agenda clip board pencil5. CONSENT CALENDAR: All items listed under this section are considered to be routine and will be acted upon with one motion. There will be no separate discussion of these items unless a member of the City Council or the public so requests, in which event, the item will be considered separately in its normal sequence.

a. Approval of Reading by Title and Waiver of Reading In Full of Ordinances on this Agenda. (Pg 5)

Recommendation: Approve the reading by title and waive the reading in full of all Ordinances on the agenda.

*b. Review and Approve that the Warrants, as Certified by the City/Agency Treasurer, are all Correct, Just, and Conform to the Approved Budget for FY 2013-2014 and FY 2014-2015. (Pg 7)
Recommendation: Approve the Warrants as certified by the City/Agency Treasurer.

c. Adoption of Resolutions (1) Calling and Giving Notice of Holding a General Municipal Election on November 4, 2014, for the Election of Certain Municipal Officers, and (2) Requesting the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to Consolidate the City’s General Municipal Election with the Statewide General Election to be Held on the Same Date. (Pg 93)

Recommendation: Adopt (1) “A Resolution of the City Council of the City of Coronado, California, Calling and Giving Notice of the Holding of a General Municipal Election to be Held on Tuesday, November 4, 2014, for the Election of Certain Officers as Required by the Provisions of the Laws of the State of California Relating to General Law Cities” and (2) “A Resolution of the City Council of the City of Coronado, California, Requesting the Board of Supervisors of the County of San Diego to Consolidate a General Municipal Election to be Held on November 4, 2014, with the Statewide General Election to be Held on the Same Date Pursuant to Section 10403 of the Elections Code.”

  1. Adoption of a Resolution Authorizing the City Manager to Execute a Successor Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Coronado and the Coronado Firefighters’ Association for Fiscal Year 2014-15. (Pg 99)  Recommendation: Adopt “A Resolution of the City Council of the City of Coronado Authorizing the City Manager to Execute a Memorandum of Understanding Between the City of Coronado and the Coronado Firefighters’ Association for Fiscal Year 2014-15 and Approving Corresponding Changes to the Personnel Authorization and Compensation Plan.”
  2. Adoption of a Resolution Approving the Updated Personnel Authorization and Compensation Plan Effective for Fiscal Year 2014-15 and the Updated Plan for 2013-14. (Pg 137)
    Recommendation: Adopt “A Resolution of the City Council of the City of Coronado Adopting its Personnel Authorization and Compensation Plan for Fiscal Year 2014-15 and Amending the Plan for 2013-14.”
  3. Adoption of a Resolution Accepting and Appropriating SDG&E SAFE San Diego Initiative Grant Funds in the Amount of $2,500 for the Purpose of Public Education and Outreach at the Annual Public Safety Open House Event in October. (Pg 173)Recommendation: Adopt “A Resolution of the City Council of the City of Coronado, California, Accepting and Appropriating SAFE San Diego Grant Funds in the Amount of $2,500 for the Purpose of Public Education at the Annual Public Safety Open House.”
  4. Authorization to Advertise the Stormwater Diverter Backflow Preventer Project for Bid. (Pg 177)Recommendation: Authorize staff to advertise the Storm Water Diverter Backflow Preventer project for bid.
  1. Award of Construction Contract to United GLI, Inc. in the Amount of $422,950 for the Golf Course Irrigation Controller Project. (Pg 179)
    Recommendation: Award a contract for the Golf Course Irrigation Controller project to United GLI, Inc. in the amount of $442,950.
  2. Authorization for the City Manager to Execute a Purchase Agreement for an Amount Not To Exceed $151,000 for Five Physio Control Cardiac Monitors for Placement on Fire Department Emergency Vehicles. (Pg 181) Recommendation: Authorize the City Manager to execute the purchase agreement for an amount not to exceed $151,000 for the purchase of Cardiac Monitors.
  3. Authorization for the City Manager to Execute an Agreement with Northrop Grumman Information Technology, Inc. (NGIT) to Continue Providing Maintenance Service for Systems Utilized by Police Services. (Pg 183) Recommendation: Authorize the City Manager to execute the service agreement with Northrop Grumman Information Technology, Inc. (NGIT).
  4. Approval of Additional Engineering Work Related to the Design of the Third, Fourth, and I Avenue Drainage Improvements Project and Authorization for the City Manager to Approve the Associated Change Order in an Amount Up To $25,000. (Pg 199)Recommendation: Authorize the City Manager to execute a change order for additional engineering work associated with the Third, Fourth, and I Avenue Drainage Improvements project in an amount up to $25,000.

6. COMMUNICATIONS – ORAL: Each person wishing to speak before the City Council on any matter shall approach the City Council, give their name, and limit their presentation to 3 minutes. State law generally precludes the City Council from discussing or acting upon any topic initially presented during oral communication. ORAL COMMUNICATIONS WILL BE LIMITED TO A TOTAL OF 10 MINUTES; ANY FURTHER COMMUNICATIONS WILL BE HEARD PRIOR TO THE MEETING ADJOURNMENT.

a. Update on Council Directed Actions and Citizen Inquiries. (Informational Item)

a. Public Hearing: Proposition 218 Protest Hearing and Second Reading for

Adoption of “An Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Coronado, California, Adopting Revised Sewer Service Rates for Sanitary Sewer Service and Amending Sections of Chapter 60.08 of the Coronado Municipal Code Pertaining to Sewer Service Charges.” (Pg 203)

Recommendation: Hold the Proposition 218 protest hearing; adopt “An Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Coronado, California, Adopting Revised Sewer Service Rates for Sanitary Sewer Service and Amending Sections of Chapter 60.08 of the Coronado Municipal Code Pertaining to Sewer Service Charges”; and direct the City Clerk to read the title of the ordinance.


b. Public Hearing: Consideration of Environmental Initial Study Documents and Determination of Whether to Proceed by Negative Declaration, Mitigated Negative Declaration or Environmental Impact Report for Construction of the Coronado Senior Activity Center Addressed as 1019 Seventh Street and Located in the Civic Use and Open Space Zones. (Pg 261)

Recommendation: Prepare a Negative Declaration.

  2. COMMISSION AND COMMITTEE REPORTS: (Questions allowed but no discussion or action.)

a. Presentation from the Representative to the Sharp Coronado Hospital and Hospital Foundation Regarding Implementation of the Second Owner Participation Agreement. (Pg 339)


  1. Council Reports on Inter-Agency Committee and Board Assignments. (Questionsallowed to clarify but no responses, discussion or action.) (Pg 341)
  2. Consideration of Appointment of Two New Members to the Design Review Commission. (Pg 345) Recommendation: Appoint two individuals to three-year terms expiring on July 31, 2017.
  3. Consideration of a Proposal to Designate the Third and Fourth Street Corridor as “The Coronado Avenue of Heroes” and Implement a Hometown Hero Banner Program. (Pg 385)
    Recommendation: Provide direction to staff to prepare a resolution of the City Council of the City of Coronado to symbolically designate the Third and Fourth Street Corridor west of Orange Avenue as “The Coronado Avenue of Heroes” and implement a companion Banner Program.
  4. Authorization for the Director of Engineering and Project Development to Amend Encroachment Permit No. E1403-004 and Authorization for the City Manager to Issue a Commercial Use Permit to Allow the Installation of Permanent Outside Dining Amenities at 1107 Tenth Street to Encroach Along the Front of the Property into the City Right-of-Way. (Pg 393)Recommendation: Authorize the Director of Engineering and Project Development to amend Encroachment Permit No. E1403-004 for the permanent improvements located at 1107 Tenth Street and the City Manager to issue a Commercial Use Permit to allow the use of permanent outside dining furnishings in the City right-of-way.

e. Consider Exception to Municipal Code Section 20.30.040 When Considering Request to Hold a Half Marathon Beginning in Tidelands Park and Traversing the San Diego-Coronado Bridge on Sunday, October 12, 2014. (Pg 413) Recommendation: City Council direction is requested as to whether to deviate from Municipal Code Section 20.30.040 and agree to hold the event in October 2014.

  1. CITY ATTORNEY: No report.

a. Receive and File a Copy of Letter Sent Expressing Support for AB 1147 –

Massage Therapy Act of 2014. (Pg 423) 14. ADJOURNMENT


Writings and documents regarding an agenda item on an open session meeting, received after official posting and distributed to the Council for consideration, will be made available for public viewing at the City Clerk’s Office at City Hall, 1825 Strand Way, during normal business hours. Materials submitted for consideration should be forwarded to the City Clerk’s Office at


Feline Friday: Remember Older Cats Need Affection, Too

It’s Feline Friday. Cats rule the internet for good reason. Their cuteness is irresistible.

photo-381Remember that older cats need affection, too.

It’s easy to coddle your kitten. But as they age, cats need their owners to take steps to show affection:

  • Greet your cat with kind words and tone when you come home
  • Search for your cat when she’s off on her own
  • Call for your cat and be happy when you are reunited . . .

Read more in Pam Merritt’s 28 April 2008 article Cat Poker in the Way of Cats Blog by clicking here.

Copyright © 2014 Barbara Denny, Esq.


Councilman Attacks Coronado Historic Designation Law and Seeks Overdevelopment with Agenda Item 13a

If you think Coronado is overdeveloped and our unique village atmosphere is fast disappearing now, be forewarned that things could get even worse tomorrow if council votes YES on agenda item 13a. 

House with picket fence and sunshineCouncilman Richard Bailey put item 13a on our agenda.

Obviously by the plain language of his email, Bailey seeks to make changes to our Historic Resources Code to make it EASIER to demolish historic homes by LOWERING the standards for council to OVERTURN decisions of the Historic Resources Commission (HRC).

The Coronado HRC is tasked with saving historic homes in order to preserve our unique village atmosphere.

The Coronado Historic Resources Code is the result of our local adoption — after extensive city staff research and public input — of the California Mills Act for Historic Preservation. California State Senator James R. Mills, who carried the legislation in Sacramento, is a resident of Coronado.

It’s common knowledge that the Coronado Historic Resources Code is already very weak compared to codes in other California towns. Bailey seeks to weaken it even further.

Below is his agenda item that you can also read on page 271 of the complete agenda package by clicking here:

  ——     Original message    ——–

From: Richard Bailey [mail to]

Sent: Monday, March 24, 2014 8:20 am

To: King, Blair

Subject: HRC Guidelines

Hi Blair-

For the council session on April 1st, please place on the agenda my request for council to discuss the criteria for historical designation and the process for reviewing involuntary historical designation.

The purpose of the request is to see if council wishes to update the criteria/language used for establishing a historic designation and/or whether council wishes to change the process for reviewing involuntary historic designations to possibly include higher standards than a voluntary designation, a super majority vote requirement, irrefutable historical evidence, etc. when upholding an involuntary HRC decision.

Thank you


For the DailyCoronado piece on the full 1 April 2014 agenda outline of the Joint Meeting of the Coronado City Council & Coronado Redevelopment Agency, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Barbara Denny, Esq.