Friday, September 30, 2011

As little freedom as they are forced to acknowledge.

Cuban government authorizes citizens to buy, sell cars

However, even though the new law states that owners can act "without any prior authorization from any entity," it doesn't mean it's open season: there remain limits on things like importing and ownership of cars. Castro said the law will help ensure the survival of Cuban Communism.

Is the sham coming undone?

EPA Inspector General Questions GHG Emissions Science, Issa Attacks On All Fronts

The ballot box or rule by fiat

Brown weighs bill challenging ban on affirmative action

The measure could put race and gender back into the admissions process at California's public universities 15 years after the state's voters banned affirmative action.

Reporting from Sacramento and Los Angeles -- In the next 10 days, Gov. Jerry Brown must decide whether to sign a bill that could put race and gender back into the admissions process at California's public universities 15 years after the state's voters banned affirmative action.

The proposed law would allow the University of California
and California State University systems to "consider" applicants' race, gender and household income to diversify student bodies. The author says he crafted it to avoid conflict with Proposition 209, the ballot measure voters passed in 1996 that prohibited preferential treatment of minority groups by the state.

But Proposition 209's backers contend that the measure now before Brown is a clear attempt to undermine the law and say they will sue to overturn it if the governor signs it.

Brown has argued in court that Proposition 209, which is enshrined in California's Constitution, violates the U.S. Constitution. But the new legislation, which triggered a controversial satirical bake sale by conservative students at UC Berkeley this week, presents the governor with a quandary because he has also long argued that the people's decisions at the ballot box are sacrosanct.

"I believe he disagrees with 209," said Sharon Browne, a principal attorney at the Pacific Legal Center, which has defended the law over the years. "But I would hope that he understands that it's really up to the people to amend 209, not the Legislature."

The bill is not the only hot-button proposal involving higher education that Brown must sign or veto by Oct. 9. He also must decide whether to allow illegal immigrants to qualify for publicly funded scholarships at state universities.

The governor's office declined to comment on the bills but said Brown's views of Proposition 209 are outlined in a legal brief he filed in July, urging a federal court to overturn the measure.

State Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), author of the race and gender bill, is a critic of Proposition 209. State data show the number of black and Latino students admitted to the UC system dipped immediately after the initiative's passage, and though such admissions have since risen, Hernandez says they remain too low.

"Minority students are not getting an equal shake in our state, and as an elected official I'm going to do everything in my power to change that," Hernandez said, "even if it means having this uncomfortable discussion."

Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a previous version of Hernandez's bill, saying it flouted Proposition 209.

The lawmaker's current measure would permit consideration of factors such as race and gender by public universities to create a "multifactored, diverse student body." It would urge the schools to weigh those factors to the maximum extent permitted by a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed narrowly tailored affirmative action at the University of Michigan Law School. That decision allowed consideration of race on a case-by-case basis and without quotas.

Hernandez's bill would ban preference for any candidate based on those factors (it is silent on other areas, such as state contracting, that Proposition 209 affected). But the delicate legal dance in the bill, SB 185, has confused some educators, and the universities are reacting cautiously.

"Our current admissions practices are compliant with the Constitution and will continue to comply with the Constitution, whether or not SB 185 is signed into law," said David M. Birnbaum, chief deputy general counsel for the UC system.

Ward Connerly, the former UC regent who was a key architect of Proposition 209, said the Hernandez proposal is a clear attempt to undermine the law's blanket ban on affirmative action. The bill, he contended, attempts "to create an illusion that there is some distinction between considering race and giving a preference."

As governor and in his last job, as attorney general, Brown has cited the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in contending that Proposition 209 should be overturned by the federal courts.

The initiative survived legal challenges after it passed, but Brown has filed papers supporting a 2009 lawsuit by a civil rights group that argues that California should be able to practice the narrow affirmative action that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in the Michigan case, Grutter vs. Bollinger.

The Supreme Court "found that states have a compelling interest in achieving the benefits that flow from a diverse student body in public universities, in addition to the interest

of remedying the effects of past discrimination," the state's Department of Justice said in the July brief filed in Brown's name with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Yvette Felarca, an organizer for the civil rights group whose challenge to Proposition 209 Brown supported, said it was critical that the governor sign SB 185. "If he vetoes it," she said, "it will be a real betrayal."

Hernandez's bill passed the Legislature with little public notice in late August. It won the endorsement of groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and the University of California Student Assn.

On Tuesday, the latter group, made up of student governments, used phone banks at campuses across California to urge Brown to sign the bill. In protest, conservative students at UC Berkeley held a mock bake sale with items labeled and priced by race and gender.

The event, and the ensuing counter-protests by supporters of affirmative action, drew international news coverage and thrust SB 185 into the spotlight.

Connerly predicted that Brown would sign the bill because of its support among politicians who represent the growing Latino electorate. "You can't look at this bill without seriously looking at the politics," he said.

Shawn Lewis, president of the Berkeley College Republicans, said he was pleasantly surprised at all the attention the issue has received since his group's bake sale.

"I don't know if Gov. Brown wants this sort of a headache," he said.

Joey Freeman, a UC Berkeley junior from Sherman Oaks and a spokesman for the university's student government, said he hopes the governor signs the bill because it could help diversify his campus.

He acknowledged that the governor is under pressure from both sides.

"It's got to be harder," he said in an interview the day after the protests, "now that this has happened."

One unspoken aim of these actions is to dispirit the voters into saying it doesn't matter if I vote so the technocrat/elites get to rule unopposed.
By considering race and ethnicity do that mean that they will be able to discriminate against Asians?

Go Joe...

Obama, Arizona Sheriff Arpaio clash over immigration

Arpaio, interviewed on Arizona television, said he resented the president's suggestion that he engages in racial profiling.

"I'm an equal-opportunity guy," Arpaio said. "I enforce all the laws."

The Left lies for effect

Public employee unions and their apologists will tell any tale to elicit sympathy for their cause.

A good example is the Rev. Al Sharpton, who now remarkably hosts a nightly show on MSNBC. He recently used a portion of his program to claim that state education cuts forced one Wisconsin school district to eliminate milk from morning snacks for elementary students.

"Governor Scott Walker's budget cuts mean some kids go without," Sharpton said, according to an article posted on PolitiFact Wisconsin.

Neither Sharpton nor his National Action Network responded to calls from fact-checkers who were seeking evidence to back up the claim. That's not surprising.

As it turned out, Sharpton should have checked his sources.

According to the Baraboo district superintendent and the school board president and vice president, milk was eliminated from the morning snack because officials were concerned that kids were drinking too much of it in the morning. They had been getting a half-pint carton during breakfast, the morning break and lunch. That seems like a lot of dairy product for small children, even in Wisconsin.

The officials said they were also concerned about the amount of wasted milk, and the administrative time needed to track how much milk was being consumed.

These decisions were made before Walker's education budget was finalized. The fact that school administrators expected budget cuts to affect the milk program was more or less an afterthought, according to the school officials.

But hey, who cares about facts when there's a good opportunity for a Sharpton smear, right?


Officials stop paying for test cheating audit

High-stakes education testing in California is operating on the honor system because two years ago state officials eliminated the system used to catch cheaters.

The routine checking of tests for erasures or other anomalies was eliminated in California in September 2009, when the the budget for testing was slashed by $17 million. The cost of security audits and running hand-bubbled tests through a machine to check for excessive erasures and suspicious marks: $105,000.

That means California isn't likely to catch major episodes of cheating like those that rocked city schools in Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, and school districts in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in recent years.

In those cases, teachers have been accused of changing test answers or prompting students to change them.

Without computerized assistance, California officials rely on school districts to self-report, submitting testing irregularity reports for everything from inappropriate test preparation to cheating.

Some question how effective that is.

"The district has a conflict of interest," said Robert Schaeffer of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing. "They want scores to be high and they want to look like their staff is honest and aboveboard."

High test scores mean more than just accolades for schools; they can keep schools from being labeled failures or, in the worse cases, being taken over by the state.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Education doesn't encourage whistle-blowers to call, officials said. If someone calls the agency to report cheating by teachers or administrators they are told to call the school district involved, said John Boivin of the California Department of Education's Standardized Testing and Accountability office.

But can the state rely on school districts to police themselves?

The Los Angeles Unified School District is an example of a district that policed itself. Earlier this month California education officials tossed out the test scores of two Los Angeles-area schools after several teachers were found to have doctored test results.

As a result of the alleged test fixing, Los Angeles Unified conducted investigations and notified the state Department of Education, which struck each school from this year's Academic Performance Index, which is used to measure how well a school is doing.

In the high-profile cases of cheating in other states, the cheaters were caught by erasure marks on the tests.

The equipment used in erasure analysis is generally programmed with a formula that allows for more erasures for second-grade math, for example, than for ninth-grade English. If there is a large percentage of stray marks or erasures in any one school or district a notice is sent to the district.

Fewer than two dozen states analyze erasures, according to Schaeffer. "But, it's changing very rapidly because of all the news coverage of misbehavior."

California's Boivin said that there has been some discussion at the State Department of Education about reinstating erasure analysis after the recent reports of cheating, but that nothing official has been done.

The question of re-funding the erasure analysis program has not come before the state Board of Education, said Mike Kirst, its president. "There has been a problem, but there is no evidence there is a huge problem we don't know about," Kirst said.

Despite the pressure to do well, reports of irregularity from the state's schools have increased in the last three years. Between 2009 and 2011, the reports of testing irregularities grew from 35 to 121.

If a school reports even a minor irregularity it is no longer eligible for state awards, like the Distinguished School Award, Boivin said. If the report shows that more than 5 percent of the students tested at the school could have been affected by the irregularity, the school's API is tossed out for the year.

Florin Elementary in the Elk Grove Unified School District lost its API this year after a math table had been left partially uncovered on a wall. A student brought it to the teacher's attention, said Elizabeth Graswich, district spokeswoman. Because the 22 students in the class made up more than 5 percent of the students tested at the school, the API was invalidated.

Many of the irregularities reported are these sorts of inadvertent mistakes, but cheating is still a concern.

Schaeffer said there are ways to manipulate scores that don't involve erasing wrong answers and replacing them with right ones. He said schools can teach to the test, limit curriculum to only that taught on the test, exclude students likely to have low scores and hold kids back a grade in critical years and promote them after the test.

"That's why we can't rely on test scores," he said. "There are too many ways to game them."

You are free only to mouth the words the progressives say you can



Chu takes responsibility for a loan deal that put more taxpayer money at risk in Solyndra

Energy Secretary Steven Chu acknowledged Thursday making the final decision to allow a struggling solar company to continue receiving taxpayer money after it had technically defaulted on a $535 million federal loan guaranteed by his agency.

Follow link at top to read the rest

Doing for language what he's done for America


Strategery, misunderestimated, refudiate: former President George W. Bush and Sarah Palin have been chastised by journalists and academes for their inventive language and occasional grammatical gaffes for years. Now it is President Obama’s turn. Here comes “Obama Grammar: Using the President’s Bloopers to Improve Your English,” a new book that parses Mr. Obama’s command of the language, or lack thereof.

“The first wordsmith is, in fact, an occasional stem-winder who is grammatically challenged,” says author and Harvard-educated historian William Proctor, who pored over 3,000 pages of the president’s official speeches and remarks. He’s convinced that Americans — particularly students — can learn a little something from Mr. Obama.

“His speeches reveal that at this point, he is simply not in the same rhetorical-grammatical league as a Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy or Ronald Reagan,” Mr. Proctor says. “Even as we explore Mr. Obama’s errors, we should not lapse into smug, finger-pointing complacency. His mistakes should serve as a reminder to the rest of us that we, too, may need to clean up our technical language skills.”

The author also sets the record straight on presidential pronunciation bloopers of several persuasions and provides the “Great Obama Grammar Face-Off.” From Inkslingers Press, the ebook is available for $10 on Kindle, via Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

So some Democrat senators don't want to raise taxes in an election year, who knew.

By Daniel Strauss - 09/29/11 07:33 PM ET

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said, at the moment, Democrats in Congress dont have the votes to pass President Obamas jobs bill, but Durbin added that that situation would change.

Not at the moment, I don’t think we do, but, uh, we can work on it, Durbin said, according to Chicago radio station WLS.

President Obama has been calling for Congress to pass his American Jobs Act since legislators returned from their August recess. The jobs plan is made up of a combination of tax increases on the wealthy, new infrastructure spending, an extension of the employee payroll-tax cut and additional funding for unemployment insurance benefits.

Republicans have voiced opposition to the plan, albeit less than with other pieces of legislation Democrats have proposed recently.

Durbin added that the president’s bill would need bipartisan support because there are senators both on the left and the right opposed to aspects of it.

The oil-producing-state senators don’t like eliminating or reducing the subsidy for oil companies, Durbin said. There are some senators who are up for election who say I’m never gonna vote for a tax increase while I’m up for election, even on the wealthiest people. So, we’re not gonna have 100 percent of Democratic senators. That’s why it needs to be bipartisan and I hope we can find some Republicans who will join us to make it happen.

Is the tide shifting? Are Democrats being held to normal standards?

AP Investigation: Plant deal may enrich donors

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A state lawmaker and a group of Democratic political donors with ties to Gov. Beverly Perdue are poised to sell land at a handsome profit for a tire plant that's being lured with $100 million in state and local incentives, according to public records reviewed by The Associated Press.

As North Carolina's chief executive, the governor is a key decision maker in large incentives deals involving state money. She also helps appoint the board members of a foundation that's been asked to provide part of the tire plant's package. Perdue's campaign has received more than $52,000 from five men with an ownership stake in the Brunswick County industrial park proposed for the new facility.

The governor's son, Garrett Perdue, is also a lawyer and site-selection consultant for an influential law firm that a county official said was advising the tire company. The firm, Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, does not disclose which projects the younger Perdue works on, citing attorney-client privilege.

Perdue's spokesman stressed Thursday that the company seeking the incentives, not the governor's aides, chose the site. The North Carolina site is competing with sites in two other states.

"Gov. Perdue is focused on bringing 1,300 jobs to North Carolina," said Mark Johnson, Perdue's spokesman. "She doesn't care where in the state the plant goes, who owns the land or who the company hires as its lawyer. She just wants the jobs."

The proposed location, the Mid-Atlantic Logistics Center, is owned by a group of investors that includes state Sen. Michael P. Walters, a Democrat from Proctorville.

A development company owned by David T. Stephenson III, a Lumberton tobacco farmer, is also listed as having a stake in the center. Stephenson is a major Democratic contributor appointed to the board of Golden LEAF, a foundation created by the state legislature to dole out hundreds of millions of dollars paid by cigarette manufacturers through a legal settlement.

Brunswick County officials have asked Golden LEAF for a grant to help fund an incentives package for the plant, said the county's top economic development official.

The deal is expected to include tax breaks, infrastructure improvements, cash grants and a forgivable loan. It's not clear how much money the foundation might put in. The new facility, code named by economic development officials as "Project Soccer," has been billed as creating up to 1,500 new jobs.

A confidential document outlining the terms of the proposed deal reviewed by The Associated Press indicated that money from the incentives package would be used to buy a large portion of the 1,129 acre site for the tire plant at a price of $6,000 an acre.

Records show the investors bought the site in 2007 for $4.3 million, or about $3,800 an acre.

Stephenson, a tobacco farmer and investor, did not return a message seeking comment Thursday.

Golden LEAF president Dan Gerlach wouldn't say whether the foundation is involved in Project Soccer. But Gerlach said Stephenson came to him at a board meeting months ago and said he may have a conflict of interest if the foundation were to provide a grant for the project.

Gerlach said Stephenson asked that he not be provided any materials provided to the foundation related to Project Soccer because of his potential financial interest in the deal.

Gerlach said Stephenson has gone beyond the foundation's conflict of interest policy by alerting the foundation to potential problems well before they could have reached the board. A board member isn't required to put the potential conflict in writing, but Gerlach said he made a note affirming Stephenson's request.

State lawmakers, who would have to approve the incentives package, have been briefed on the possibility of a special legislative session to be held in the coming weeks to vote on it.

Walters filed a letter with the Senate clerk on Aug. 25 recusing himself from any deliberations on the deal "to avoid any potential conflict of interests or the appearance of impropriety."

He declined to comment further Thursday.

"I've recused myself from that project and that's all I have to say," Walters said.

Democratic Rep. Dewey Hill, who said he's spoken to Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco about Project Soccer, described the company seeking the incentives deal as a "tire manufacturer and distribution company from Germany." Hill's district includes part of Brunswick County.

The German company Continental Tire is in the process of selecting a site for a new plant in the Southeast, spokeswoman Kathryn Blackwell said Thursday, but she wouldn't say whether the company was looking at North Carolina.

"We have not made a decision, though one is coming in the near future," Blackwell said.

In addition to Crisco, Womble Carlyle lobbyist Laura DeVivo has been talking with key lawmakers. A legislator described a meeting in which DeVivo and other Womble lobbyists worked with state officials to gain support for the proposed incentives package. The legislator asked not to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the negotiations.

DeVivo works on Womble's government affairs team, which also includes Perdue's son. In an interview last year, Garrett Perdue described his role with the firm as identifying companies seeking to relocate to the state and helping them find sites to meet their needs.

Two attorneys who lead the firm's government affairs team, former Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Burley Mitchell, did not return messages seeking comment.

Gov. Perdue has said she doesn't talk to her son about which companies he works for, though she has recused herself from making decisions in at least two economic incentives projects in recent years after her aides became concerned he was working on behalf of the companies involved.

Johnson, the governor's spokesman, said he didn't know whether Womble Carlyle played any role in advising the tire company in considering the proposed Project Soccer site.

Jim Bradshaw, director of Brunswick County Economic Development Commission, said he was the one who first recommended the Mid-Atlantic site for Project Soccer last winter. He said the land was one of 53 sites originally under consideration. That list has now been whittled down to three: the Mid-Atlantic land and sites in South Carolina and Louisiana.

Bradshaw said some pieces of North Carolina's proposed package are already in place. The state Department of Transportation has pledged $150,000 to extend a rail spur to the site and the state-supportedN.C. Rural Center has awarded the county about $1.5 million toward water and sewer installation.

He said Gov. Perdue did not personally become involved in the negotiations until after the Mid-Atlantic site was in the running. He said August was the first contact he had with anyone from Womble Carlyle about the county's proposed contributions to the incentives package. He declined to identify the person he spoke to.

Bradshaw also said he had no idea the owners of the proposed Project Soccer site have been frequent contributors to the Democratic Party or Gov. Perdue.

Campaign finance records show Stephenson and members of his family have donated more than $85,000 to Democratic candidates over the last 20 years, including $14,000 to Perdue since 2004. Records show $8,000 in contributions to former Senate President Pro Tempore Marc Basnight, the Manteo Democrat who appointed Stephenson to the Golden LEAF board.

Walters and his wife have donated more than $34,000 to elected Democrats other than himself, including $14,000 to Perdue.

William E. Musselwhite, a Lumberton lawyer who owns a share of the land, has given more than $22,000 to state Democrats, including $14,500 to Perdue.

Dennis T. Worley, a Tabor City attorney and another of the owners, has given more than $28,000 to Democrats, including $7,700 to Perdue.

Kyle A. Cox, another Tabor City lawyer and part property owner, gave more than $11,000 to Democrats, including $2,000 to Perdue.

Bradshaw, the economic developer, said he doesn't care who owns the land.

"I don't know who these people are," Bradshaw said. "I don't know who contributes to who. I just want to bring these jobs to Brunswick County."


Well now isn't that just precious. An old man back peddling is an ugly sight.

Warren Buffett Does Not Endorse WH's "Buffett Rule"

CNBC: "Are you happy that the way it is being described. Is the program that the White House has presented a million dollars and over your program? "

Warren Buffett: "Well, the precise program which will -- I don't know what their program will be. My program would be on the very high incomes that are taxed very low. Not just high incomes. Somebody making $50 million a year playing baseball, his taxes won't change. Make $50 million a year appearing on television, his income won't change. But, if they make a lot of money and pay a very low tax rate, like me, it would be changed by a minimum tax that would only bring them up to what other people pay."

CNBC: "Does that mean you disagree with the president's new jobs proposal which would be paid for by raising taxes on households with incomes of over $250,000."

Buffett: "That's another program that I won't be discussing. My program is to have a tax on ultra-rich people who are very tax rates. Not just all rich people. It would probably apply to 50,000 people in a population of 300 million."

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The real issue is why did we let politicians divert money for maintenance to vote getting projects.

Crumbling bridge chosen as symbol of decaying infrastructure

Does anyone seriously think that any additional income the government receives will go to fix things or pay down debt or be shunted off into welfare or other programs that pander to select groups.

Now why didn't anybody think of this first? Well, everybody who questioned the viability of EV's did.

What good is an electric vehicle if there's no electricity?

Others who paid dearly for the GM fiasco

2007-2008 Chevrolet Impala owners suing Old GM over suspension woes

According to a memo by Redmond Police Chief Ron Gibson, all three red light camera intersections saw accidents go up after the cameras were activated.

Washington: City Goes All Out to Defend Dangerous Camera Program

The city of Redmond, Washington decided last week that it had no intention of putting the issue of red light cameras and speed cameras to a vote of the people. The mayor refuses to transmit the completed petition signatures for an initiative on the topic to the county auditor, despite a state law that sets a three-day deadline for the city administration to do so. On Tuesday, Redmond police released data that show accidents have increased since at the photo enforced locations since the program started in February.
On September 14, activists Scott Harlan and Tim Eyman handed the city clerk a stack of petitions containing 6050 signatures — just under half of the city’s active voters and far more than needed to qualify for the ballot. State law says the city “shall transmit the petition to the county auditor” within three days of filing.

“Following the city’s legal review, we are advised the proposed Redmond initiative is virtually identical to the city of Bellingham initiative deemed invalid by a recent Court of Appeals ruling and not subject to the initiative process,” Mayor John Marchione said in a statement.

That appellate decision (view ruling) stated that the measure would stay on the ballot as an advisory measure. The state supreme court also saw no problem with allowing the city of Mukilteo to hold a vote on cameras. A high court ruling on photo ticketing initiatives is pending. On Monday, initiative guru Tim Eyman filed suit to force Redmond to move forward with the election process.

“They just blatantly violated the law by not turning over the petitions forcing us to sue our government to turn over the petitions — something they’re required to do by the law.” Eyman told TheNewspaper.

Redmond is following in the footsteps of the city of Longview, which spent $47,886.25 in litigation costs in an unsuccessful attempt to keep the anti-camera initiative off the November ballot. In the wake of the dispute, Longview’s mayor has decided not to run for re-election and several city councilmen are facing stiff election challenges.

“You couldn’t ask for a worse poster child of how to handle an initiative than Longview, but these guys [in Redmond] are just playing that same playbook,” Eyman said.

According to a memo by Redmond Police Chief Ron Gibson, all three red light camera intersections saw accidents go up after the cameras were activated. Overall, the increase was 35 percent — from 14 collisions before the cameras were installed to 19 afterward.

Chief Gibson pointed to the 43.7 percent reduction in the number of $124 tickets issued by American Traffic Solutions (ATS) as evidence that the camera program has been successful. Harlan pointed out that this statistic is misleading because two locations were idle for several months because the cameras malfunctioned. Moreover, Harlan discovered the police started throwing out more tickets after the initiative was filed in March. The rejection rate climbed from 11 percent in March to 38 percent in August.

“The police department really started vetoing and rejecting tons of ATS recommendations,” Harlan told TheNewspaper. “The unintended consequence of that was that the data look like violations have dropped by a lot when in reality the behavior hasn’t changed hardly at all.”

Harlan calculated the actual reduction was closer to seven percent.

It's all about the money for those lazy assed politicians.

Gibson and too much government

Feds to Gibson: Hand over more wood

What???? Forget it. Let's see his college transcripts now!

Obama: 'I Don't Think Ethics' Was My Favorite Subject

When the UN elites rule the world you will have peaches and cream, right?

The Obama administration told the United Nations that too few of its 10,307 workers are being cut and average salaries, currently $119,000 a year, have risen “dramatically.”

The U.S. ambassador for UN management and reform, Joseph M. Torsella, said today that the proposed $5.2 billion UN budget for the next two years would scrap only 44 jobs, a 0.4 percent reduction. After an “onslaught” of add-ons, the 2012-13 budget would rise more than 2 percent to $5.5 billion, he said.

“That is not a break from ‘business as usual’ but a continuation of it,” Torsella said in a speech in New York to the UN’s administrative and budgetary committee. “How does management intend to bring these numbers and costs back in line?”

The Obama administration, he said, “calls for a comprehensive, department-by-department, line-by-line review of this budget” and a new process to approve UN funding.

“It is our obligation to our taxpayers to do more with less in Washington and here at the UN,” he said.

Torsella’s attack on UN salaries and workforce size follows legislation introduced by U.S.House Republicans on Aug. 30 that, if passed into law, would have the U.S. withhold a percentage of its contributions until at least 80 percent of the UN budget is voluntary.

U.S. Share

While pressing for savings in the UN budget, the Obama administration is opposed to withholding U.S. funding. That approach to forcing UN reform is “fundamentally flawed in concept and practice, sets it back, is self-defeating, and doesn’t work,” U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, said on Sept. 13.

The U.S. pays 22 percent of the UN’s regular operating budget and is assessed 27 percent of the peacekeeping budget. U.S. payments totaled $3.35 billion in 2010, of which $2.67 billion was dedicated to the 16 peacekeeping operations worldwide, from South Sudan to Haiti.

Torsella also complained about receiving the UN budget proposal in a “piecemeal fashion” with “too little financial analysis.” He cited, as an example, not knowing how much the UN spends on health-care benefits for its employees.

Calling personnel the “largest and most important driver of long-term costs,” Torsella said those expenses increased to $2.4 billion in the 2010-11 budget from $1.4 billion a decade earlier.

Republican Plan

Legislation by Florida’s Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, demands that the UN let countries decide how much to pay and which programs they will support, rather than assessing payments based on a formula. It would end funding for Palestinian refugees, limit use of U.S. funds only to purposes outlined by Congress and put a hold on creating or expanding peacekeeping operations until management changes are made.

In 2006, President George W. Bush’s ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, said the U.S. might push to make contributions to the UN budget voluntary. Bolton also focused on peacekeeping operations, holding hearings on reports of sexual exploitation by UN peacekeepers in Africa and up to $300 million in unnecessary purchases of equipment and supplies for peacekeeping missions.

Also in 2006, House lawmakers called for withholding half of the $429 million in U.S. funding for the UN’s regular operations that year in an attempt to force changes in the world body. At the time, criticism was focused on evidence of graft in the $64 billion UN program that allowed Iraq’sSaddam Hussein to use oil money from 1996 to 2003 to buy food and medical supplies for his people.

Anger over the scandal drove a 60-member group in the House to sponsor a resolution calling for the resignation of then Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

An attempt in the House in 2006 to pass legislation tying payments to UN management changes failed.