Code of Ethics for Council Members
We need a robust and comprehensive code of ethics for Lake Forest City Council Members. I want to get special interest money out of our City government. As you see, I introduced a measure to be placed on the 2014 ballot for your approval but, as you see above, the measure was voted done by the other four Council members and thus never made it to the ballot.
There is no doubt that Reform is needed, and I think the Council must take the issue directly to you, the voters. Government must be transparent, lobbyists must be required to register to stop backroom deals, and Council Members must be required to disclose meetings they have with companies who do business with the City or like to start doing business with the City.
The current ordinance allowing the same person serve in the same office for 24 years out of a 26-year span does not achieve what the intent of term limits is.
When the same person can serve in the same office for 24 years out of a 26-year span, where is the limit?
Politicians have a tendency to grow more corrupt as they spend more time in office. Some blame this on the legislative environment, while others simply cite basic human weakness and the tendency of people to succumb to temptation if they are exposed for too long. Term limits are often seen as one potential solution for this problem.
With REAL term limits, nobody sees becoming an elected representative as a viable lifetime career choice, leading to more people who get into politics for noble reasons instead of a simple desire for power.
It is common for politicians to jockey for advantage instead of voting based on their real beliefs. For example, a political leader might decide to oppose a plan even though he knows it could help people simply because it was proposed by someone from the other side of the political spectrum, and voting for it might make it seem like he is siding with a political enemy. By reducing the constant concerns about being reelected, REAL term limits could potentially reduce this kind of political gamesmanship.
REAL Term limits would also result in a constant influx of new people bringing new concepts and philosophies to the table, which is an important advantage.
Simple, two four-year terms in a lifetime.
Election of Mayor
Currently the Council elects the Mayor from among their colleagues. This practice has always been plagued with dirty politics and cronyism.
Enact a City ordinance to allow the direct election of the Mayor by the voters.
Currently the law only requires a 72-hour notice for and item to be discussed either publicly or in closed session. Most people are too busy to check city council agendas. This does not mean they do not care but they may not be aware of an issue important to them until after the vote has already taken place.
Citizens are being shut out of having their concerns considered by the council by the requirement that a majority of the council must vote to have something place on the agenda.
Require a two-week advanced public notice of agenda items. This will allow time for concerned citizens to spread the word and adjust their busy lives to have time and opportunity to participate in the process.
Jobs and the Economy
America’s rising debt, the lack of job creation and runway spending is crushing the American Dream. Our debt is spiraling out of control. Our weak labor market is not creating jobs fast enough and our fiscal situation is downright dangerous.
Our weak labor market is a reflection of the Administration’s misdirected policies. The official unemployment rate fell but only because millions of American’s have dropped out of the labor force, not because there has been an increase in hiring. Employers are creating fewer jobs because of the continuing uncertainty of Obamacare, the never ending parade of tax and “fee” increases and the prospect of future tax increases as well as government policies that encourage people not to work and reduces the reward for working.
Finally the barrage of Government stimulus spending has failed to solve the unemployment problem while giving businesses little incentive to expand. The amount of money thrown about attempting to fix the problem has resulted in a shrinking work force and exploding deficits. Government spending has failed. It’s time to put in place policies that utilize private sector market based, growth inducing, and job creating entrepreneurial ideas.
Adam Nick’s Solution:
What can we do about our weak job market. First, let’s not go down the debt path of countries like Greece and Japan. Let’s not emulate countries we know have floundering economies and a staggering unemployment rate. Let’s stop holding up Europe as the example for America. We left England over 200 years ago precisely because we wanted more freedom from big government, we wanted less taxation without representation. Let’s remember why we are here in the first place. Let’s not kill our kids American Dream before they have a chance to experience it. Let’s end any discussion of future tax increases. Congress should ease the barriers that government taxation, regulation and red tap create. Tax revenues will increase when the economy increases.
Let’s not just remove the barriers to starting anew business let’s create incentives. Let’s start with a tax credit from every new full time employee. Small businesses are the real engine of our economy. Let’s get government out of the way and let people pursue their dreams.
Our public education system is in trouble. At the beginning of this year Capitol Alert published a report that shows once again, California’s public education system received a low grade in Education Week’s annual state-by-state evaluation of school finances, teacher preparedness, academic achievement and other benchmarks. The magazine gives California a “D” with a cumulative score of 72.4 on a 100-point scale, 10th lowest among the states. California consistently ranks near the bottom in elementary and middle school reading and math tests and only mediocre in high school graduation rates. Our kids deserve better.
Adam Nick’s Solution:
Everyone seems to agree that good schools are prerequisites for economic prosperity, individual social mobility, and a healthy civil society. Although no one disputes the value of a good education, how we get there is a complicated debate.
As a businessman I know that when things need to get turned around all options are on the table. The same should be true with our education system. As our public education system continues its downward spiral we need to build a better system from the ground up and every tool that we have at our disposal should be considered.
Each state should be given as much flexibility as they need to turn their schools around. Whether we are talking about school vouchers, school choice, charter schools, more state and local control, longer school days, shorter summer breaks or performance incentives (that reward success and punish poor performance), as well as the ability to fire teachers that aren’t performing, all options should be considered.
In 2014, taxpayers will spend on average $140,000 to educate each child from K-12. Families should have more control over their investment, directing their education dollars to schools that meet their needs.
States should be allowed to make the Federal payments they receive portable so that low-income students can take that money with them to the school of their choice helping to further close the achievement gap.
Expand on line learning opportunities as well as public and private school choice options. Protect home schooling as an option.
Finally, create and expand education savings accounts for families.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs handles three major areas for America’s veterans: medical care, benefits and burials/memorials. We have a sacred pact with our Veterans; in return for their service to our country we promise to take care of their military related injuries, medical needs and disability benefits. This promise with our Veterans has been broken for a long time and needs to be fixed. Our Veterans are facing a wide variety of challenges when they return home. Many of them have served their country at great personal cost. Our Veterans often have to deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury’s, Substance Abuse, Homelessness and Housing Problems, Disability, Unemployment and under employment and the list goes on. Oftentimes it’s just the transition period from active duty to civilian life they need help with. The most recent VA scandal involves false record-keeping, long waiting lists, and inappropriate, possibly criminal “systemic” scheduling resulting in the death of some veteran’s.
Adam Nick’s Solution:
We need to first, not deliver pink slips to our men and woman while they are still working oversees in war zones. Instead of crushing moral, let’s try to raise it. Let’s help our veterans by not cutting their pay. Let’s help their families that are left behind by extending the “special class” designation to include military spouses for job training and hiring opportunities. Let’s not simply challenge business to hire military spouses, let’s provide tax incentives or tax breaks to business for hiring them.
The current disability system needs a top-to-bottom review. Established in 1917, before modern treatments became available, it was never intended to promote rehabilitation. The VA system needs to modernize it’s thinking when it comes to the veteran’s health care system and it’s disability system. Because most veterans want to work, the VA’s disability-benefits systems primary function should be to treat and rehabilitate veterans to enhance their ability to work. They need to offer treatment and rehab for military-related injuries and then reduce the barriers to full participation in society. To often, the VA disability system is focused on compensating veterans instead of “fixing” them, creating a class of veterans who view themselves as permanently disabled.
As long as there is a backlog and months long waiting to see a doctor we need to have extended hours at VA facilities.
Let’s find a way to reward whistle blowers and fire, with due process, workers that falsify records.
When Social Security was created in the 1930s, it was intended to be a supplemental source of income for retired Americans, a safety net against the economic hardships created by the Great Depression, today a large number of retirees depend on Social Security in order to maintain their quality of life. There are millions of Americans, both Republican and Democrat who are entitled to a solution that puts politics aside and preserves the system they have paid into and future generations will depend on. This should not be a right or left issue but an American issue. In order to save the system we can’t be afraid to put all options on the table and debate them.
Adam Nick’s Solution:
We need to make Social Security financially sustainable for the generations that have paid into it as well as future generations that expect to draw on it. There is a long-term deficit problem but it isn’t a crisis yet. If we don’t do anything, the trust fund is expected tow run out of money by 2033 at which point benefits would have to be cut by about 25%. We should consider fixing it now while we are still not in a crisis.
One thing to consider is using the Thrift Savings Plan for federal civil servants or members of the uniformed services as a model. The TSP is a retirement savings plan similar to 401(k) plans offered to private sector employees. The TSP doesn’t offer many choices, but they’re great choices and the costs are low. The federal government could make the TSP available to everyone or it could set up a parallel plan as an IRA or 401(k) option with low administrative expenses done based on fair-market competition.
Another option that should be debated is the “Alternate Plan” used in three Texas counties since 1981 that takes a “banking model” approach. Employee and employer contributions are pooled, like bank deposits and top-rated financial companies bid on the money. They are guaranteed an interest rate that won’t go below a base level, and could go higher if the market does well. Part of the employer contribution also goes toward a life insurance policy, which pays four times the employee’s salary tax free, up to a maximum of $215,000, nearly 850 times Social Security’s death benefit of $255. If a worker participating in Social Security dies before retirement, he loses his contribution (though part of it may go to surviving children or a spouse), in the Alternate Plan the worker owns his account so the entire account belongs to the estate. There is also a disability benefit that pays immediately upon injury instead of waiting six months. We all know there is no Social Security “lock box” or “off budget” retirement fund sitting there with $2.6 trillion in it to pay our seniors. The truth is that the federal government has borrowed all of that trust fund money and spent it. The long-term success of the program depends on the number of retirees paying into the program exceeding the number of American’s receiving benefits from it at any one time and since 2011 the government has been paying out more benefits than it is taking in. Let’s fix this while we still can!