CA CAFR trillions: carrot/stick offer to Senator Liu, Assemblymember Portantino

This is my latest e-mail to Wendy Gordon, Communications Deputy to California Assemblymember Anthony Portantino, and Robert Oakes, consultant to California Senator Carol Liu:

Hello Wendy and Robert,

I’m writing you simultaneously to encourage mutual cooperation for public responses regarding California’s $600 billion cash and investment fund disclosed in the state Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), and the even-more astounding $8 trillion in surplus taxes from sampled data of California’s various ~14,000 government entities’ CAFRs.

I’m willing to brief Senator Liu, Assemblymember Portantino, and/or anyone else of responsible interest. My background includes helping brief members of Congress and heads of state over 18 years with policies for ending poverty. I’m a National Board Certified Teacher of Advanced Placement Economics, and was on a panel of six experts for the Claremont Colleges’ conference on credit and monetary reform in April. The CAFR data speaks for itself, and I am willing to help the data be understood fully.

I’m also willing to help Carol and/or Anthony form a public response at your request. I’d like to help both become stars for public service on this issue, and promise to use my writing platform of reaching millions to help forward their reputations and careers from this literal trillion dollar issue.

Here’s what’s happened on this issue so far:

  • My letter to the editor of the Outlook was published on June 7 with my promise for updates until Carol and Anthony publicly respond (their website is “under construction,” but a 250 word excerpt of this).
  • Two community members have come to my door in support. One is a leading community voice who was verifying the data, and who will speak.
  • The published articles I’ve written on CAFR data have well over ten million views from one website alone, and are widely reposted (for examples, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here). The latest article mentions Carol and Anthony by name in the titles (as will future articles).

Here’s my respectful recommendation for your consideration:

  1. Verify that the CAFR data do indeed show that the state of California has $600 billion in cash and investments that both parties’ leadership never mention, corporate media never mention, yet is objective and verifiable through the CAFR. As I’ve written, this is similar to saying the checkbook account can’t pay for the children’s education while the savings account has 35 times that amount of money. Verify that all state government CAFRs do indeed contain ~$8 trillion of taxpayers’ assets from samples (for example, in 2009 I quickly found nearly $100 billion in the investment accounts for the County and City of Los Angeles CAFRs).
  2. Choose to fulfill your ethical and professional fiduciary responsibilities as public representatives to do everything in your power to reveal this data to the California public. Respond to each of these seven public points. Trillions in overtaxation demand multiple, independent, professional audits and cost-benefit analyses so Californians can understand all our options.
  3. Understand your position: “leadership” will demand Carol and Anthony’s silence. They will lie. They will threaten. Therefore, it is vital to get as many other leaders as possible for rapid and simultaneous press releases, press conferences, and public exposure to make this disclosure as effective and safe as possible. This will make Carol and Anthony heroes. I will do my personal best to write and encourage others to repost of the accounts of Carol and Anthony’s leadership for the people of California and the nation through their examples.

Let’s consider the three known lies that leadership will first present for Carol and Anthony to shut-up about these trillions:

  1. The funds are “designated” and can’t be used. This is a lie because the legislators have the authority and responsibility to audit and submit this fund data for professional and independent cost-benefit analyses. Those who designate have the power to undesignate.
  2. The funds pay for retirement benefits. This is a lie because $600 billion is not needed to pay an account far more efficiently funded by current member contributions and direct taxation (assuming Californians would want their tax money involved). It is a lie because in a healthy economy current member contributions are roughly equal to retirement payouts. It is a lie because responsible leadership would announce the $600 billion and $8 trillion, then honestly submit the data to independent analyses and public consideration.
  3. The funds are needed for “rainy days.” This is a lie because a state-owned bank could provide at-cost credit for budget shortfalls. Indeed, a state-owned bank providing public credit rather than private for-profit credit could have 2% mortgages that would cover all of California’s tax revenue. The only state with a state-owned bank is North Dakata; also the only state with continuing and increasing budget surpluses.

So Wendy and Robert: you are both professional enough to recognize the legal fiduciary responsibility of Carol and Anthony to pursue this issue. I’ve provided objective and public documentation in government’s own CAFRs, willingness to explain the data, the simple policy response to make the data public with call for independent analyses to discover Californians’ options, and easy refutations for known arguments.

I hope that your actions will encourage Carol and Anthony to act for justice.

I await your responses and remind you that local paper deadlines are typically Tuesday by noon. I recommend that we work together to have a public response by Tuesday June 19’s deadline.

And that said, I will support your making the choice for the 99% rather than the 1% who would hide these trillions while forcing our austerity by making your responses public knowledge to local papers, community members, to hundreds of activist who reach tens of millions of people, and to my international audience of my articles. Again, I am BCC-ing several hundred people in our e-mails who include many of the nation’s leading activists for political and economic reform.

For your convenience, here’s part of my latest article, “CAFR tax surplus trillions: Senator Liu, Assemblyperson Portantino: heroes or minions?here, here, here, here so far from today’s submission (I will also publish this e-mail):

California Senator Carol Liu and California Assemblymember Anthony Portantino have a choice of two paths:

  1. Ignore, deny, obfuscate, lie, and be minions of a criminal “1%” so-called “leadership” for malfeasance of trillions in public money while forcing devastating austerity and failing infrastructure on the 99% in California. This path is to be a minion complicit in crimes that reflect globally in policies that annually kill millions, harm billions, and loot trillions of dollars.
  2. Be the leaders they once dreamed of being. Stand for justice that will reflect globally to literally save millions, help billions, and redirect trillions to build a brighter future for 100% of Earth’s inhabitants. This path requires Carol and Anthony to join forces with others to intelligently and rapidly act to expose the 1% “leaders”. Joint press releases, press conferences, and mutual stands can create critical mass for the 99%’s “emperor has no clothes” recognition. The more leaders they can get to join their action, the better their chance for success and the safer it is for their heroism.

Regarding my interactions with Carol and Anthony (and their staff), from my experience of 18 years working with hundreds of members of Congress and two UN Summits, I will demand and publish continuous accountability of their official responses. I found with Gandhi that you will otherwise be ignored as a first response:

First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. And then you win.

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  • Brian Willcutts

    Carl,

    If you are relying on Walter Burien and Clint Richardson for analysis of CAFR data, you are a making a mistake. I have checked some of the claims made by these two, and they are erroneous. I have not specifically examined the California data about which you write, but I have examined a large number of specific claims made by these two and found them to be unsupported by evidence or just plain false.

    Keep in mind, neither Burien or Richardson has any formal training in the preparation, analysis, or auditing of financial accounting reports. Burien is a former retail commodities broker, whose last firm was charged with criminal misconduct, and Clint Richardson is a sound technician. I encourage you to get an accounting professional with experience in pension and/or public sector accounting standards to review the reports and offer an opinion.

    I have investigated some of the numbers thrown around by Burien in his video and found some to be wildly exaggerated. I also engaged Clint Richardson in a lengthy online debate and showed conclusively that he too was making false claims. In the course of the debate, both Burien and Richardson admitted that they had never verified some key claims made in their videos. If you want details, I would be happy to provide them.

    Bottom line is neither of these guys should be relied upon for accurate analysis. You need to conduct your own analysis to validate anything being claimed by Burien and Richardson. Good luck.

  • Great, informative post Carl.

    It is in the nature of “treating the cause, not the effect“, which is always the better response.

    Offering your knowledge on this subject, and your assistance, is a significant public service.

    • Carl Herman

      Thanks, Dredd. More is coming in this story…

  • jo6pac

    Thanks, I’ll pass this along to my local Calli rep. I would love to see this show down on jerrys budget go down in Flames. I’m the Left and will be voting Green unless my rep. is brave enough to bring this up. Chance of that 0