Taxes and Jobs

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

A column by journalist David Cay Johnston in the Sacramento Bee re-visited arguments made by opponents of the Proposition 30 tax increases – including me – that jobs would be killed if the taxes were increased. As pointed out in the article, California has increased jobs since the taxes took effect.

However, it was not an unreasonable assumption to make, as I’ll discuss below and there is a question how many more jobs we might have if the taxes had not passed. Another Bee column by Board of Equalization member George Runner argues that the tax increases might have prevented even greater job growth that should be expected from a surging economy.

Johnston took our No on 30 position from the state’s voter information guide rebuttal argument when he quoted the argument that Proposition 30 “hurts small businesses and kills jobs.” As he correctly points out there are more jobs now.

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The Last Days of Heavy Manufacturing in California

Michael Bernick
Former California Employment Development Department Director & Milken Institute Fellow

In 1993, novelist and California native Joan Didion traveled to the City of Lakewood in Southern California to report on its changing employment and culture. Her essay, “Trouble in Lakewood”, published 21 years ago this week, detailed a declining economy and troubled culture.

Lakewood was the largest of California’s suburbs built in the immediate post World War II period. As Ms. Didion describes, prior to World War II, the area that became Lakewood consisted of “several thousand acres of beans and sugar beets just inland from the Signal Hill oil field and across the road from the plant…that the federal government completed in 1941 for Donald Douglas.”


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California Businesses Ally To Ensure Robust Water Policy

California Forward Reporter

If you’re looking for a high-profile manufacturer that for sure depends on water, New Belgium Brewing seems like a good one to highlight. As they say on the advocacy page, “You can’t make great beer without clean water.”

And that sounds like a pretty good reason for the brewery to become a founding member of the Blue Business Council, a network of businesses that officially launched recently as a partnership with California Coastkeeper Alliance and local Waterkeeper organizations. For the members, encouraging policies that tackle drought and water pollution in the state’s watersheds and ocean waters represents just plain good economics.

“As the drought underscores, the management of our water resources is not purely an ‘environmental’ issue,” said Sara Aminzadeh, executive director of California Coastkeeper Alliance. “The availability and quality of California’s water affects every person and business in California. Businesses have a responsibility to use their resources, innovation and networks to work towards a more secure water future. We are partnering with businesses who are doing just that.”

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From All L.A.’s Residents-Hollywood’s Battle Is Our Battle

Jack Humphreville
LA Watchdog writer for CityWatch, President of the DWP Advocacy Committee, Ratepayer Advocate for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and Publisher of the Recycler

Hollywood’s neighborhoods and residents are under attack by big time real estate developers who are investing billions in too many to count high rise residential and commercial buildings along the three mile stretch of Hollywood, Sunset, and Santa Monica Boulevards between Western Avenue and the border with West Hollywood.

This massive densification will overwhelm the area’s aging infrastructure (streets, water, power, sewer, gas) and the City’s ability to provide police and fire protection. It will also turn Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards into unsightly canyons, destroying the existing character and culture of these thoroughfares and the surrounding residential areas.

Worst of all, the resulting traffic on these poorly maintained boulevards and narrow side streets that are already jammed with parked cars will turn Hollywood into Gridlock City.  Not only will this traffic adversely impact the quality of life and public safety of the surrounding residential neighborhoods, it will endanger the tourist industry and create a huge disincentive for employers in the high tech, engineering, and entertainment industries whose highly paid professionals will refuse to fight the traffic.

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The Republicans Best Chance in 2014

Tony Quinn
Political Analyst

Republicans are looking around for a chance to snag one statewide office this fall, and most attention has focused on Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin running for Controller.  But the GOP should really focus on Pete Peterson, their candidate for Secretary of State.  He has a much better opportunity than Swearengin.

Peterson is the executive director of Pepperdine University’s Davenport Institute for Public and Civic Engagement, and has been campaigning on an agenda of reform for the Secretary of State’s office, which it badly needs.  Swearengin is a well respected second term mayor of Fresno but she had a very bad break when Board of Equalization member Betty Yee nabbed the Democratic nod for Controller over former Assembly Speaker John Perez.

But the biggest difference between Peterson and Swearengin is that he will have his name and a personal message in the ballot pamphlet that goes out to 16 million voters, and Swearengin will not.

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Twin Tunnels Project Threatens Property Owners

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

You’d think that with all the well deserved bad press heaped on the High Speed Rail debacle that Governor Brown would be a little more circumspect about mega-infrastructure projects which, presumably, he wishes to be the cornerstone of his legacy. Unfortunately, it appears that his legacy may be that of an inflexible politician who has saddled California with projects that are financially suspect and downright wasteful.

His latest adventure is the pursuit of the “Twin Tunnels,” a massively expensive water conveyance project. This project, part of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), envisions two large tunnels 40 feet in diameter to take water from the Sacramento River and send it to the southern part of the San Joaquin delta to be connected with both the California Water Project and the Central Valley Project.

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Don’t Be So Dense About Housing

Joel Kotkin
Editor of and Presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University

Southern California faces a crisis of confidence. A region that once imagined itself as a new model of urbanity – what the early 20th century minister and writer Dana Bartlett called “the better city” – is increasingly being told that, to succeed, it must abandon its old model and become something more akin to dense Eastern cities, or to Portland or San Francisco.

This has touched off a “density craze,” in which developers and regulators work overtime to create a future dramatically different from the region’s past. This kind of social engineering appeals to many pundits, planners and developers, but may scare the dickens out of many residents. They may also be concerned that the political class, rather than investing in improving our neighborhoods, seems determined to use our dollars to subsidize densification and support vanity projects, like a new Downtown Los Angeles football stadium. At same time, policymakers seek to all but ban suburban building, a misguided and extraordinarily costly extension of their climate-change agenda.

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Detroit-Style Pension Cuts: Could It Happen Here?


Bankrupt Detroit announced last week that current workers and retirees voted overwhelmingly to cut many pensions by 4.5 percent and to trim or eliminate cost-of-living adjustments.

If the plan to exit bankruptcy had been rejected, a federal judge might have imposed a proposed 27 percent pension cut, and a $816 million contribution to offset pension cuts would not be made by foundations, the state and art donors.

“I want to thank City retirees and active employees who voted for casting aside the rhetoric and making an informed positive decision about their future and the future of the City of Detroit,” the Detroit emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, said in a news release.

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Not Your Father & Mother’s GOP A.G. Candidate

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

The challenger to Attorney General Kamala Harris is Republican Ron Gold, a former California deputy attorney general whose positions don’t always line up with the stances often associated with Republican candidates.

Read his press releases. Gold supports legalizing marijuana and backs the U.S. Senate immigration plan and a path to citizenship.

Gold calls for swift, compassionate judgment for the wave of immigrants crossing the border. An immigrant himself from Canada, Gold says he wants to grant protections for those immigrants who are truly refugees from crimes and hardships while swiftly deporting gang members and criminals.

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Where Would the 6 Capitals Be?

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Yes, yes, it won’t happen. But Six Californias is so much fun that it’s become the summer story of 2014.

Proponent Tim Draper foolishly won’t let states name themselves but his initiative is silent on a crucial question: the location of capitals of the new state. The Internet abhors a vacuum, so let’s fill it with some possible capitals for the six states.


Favorite as capital: Redding, right in the middle.

Dark horse: Eureka, cool on the coast and permitting Jefferson to take California’s motto with them.

Best choice: Medford, Oregon, since Jefferson would quickly become a poor client state of Oregon, where southern counties have agitated for a split as well.

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