Who Else Might Jump into Big Statewide Races?

Joel Fox

Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

We pretty much know the fields in the big races in California next year for governor and the U.S. Senate—or do we?

Speculation concerning surprise entries to the major races spark the interest of political junkies and political pros. Look at some of the names put out there. Willie Brown in his San Francisco Chronicle  column suggested the way former California First Lady Maria Shriver asked a question at a dinner he attended could mean she is interested in a run for governor.

Former Republican Congressman Doug Ose expressed interest in the top state job. The Nooner’s Scott Lay thinks it’s a strong possibility.

On the Senate side, Calbuzz speculated that stepping down from her leadership position at Hewlett Packard could mean Meg Whitman might jump into the U.S. Senate race.

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The Passing Of San Francisco’s Mayor Ed Lee

Richard Rubin

Attorney Richard Rubin has taught public policy at USF, UC Berkeley and other institutions and is Chair of the California Commonwealth Club Board of Governors

When any city loses its Mayor it is a notable event. When the City is one of the nation’s most important, heavy coverage is guaranteed.

San Francisco’s quiet and often invisible leader for the past seven years, Ed Lee, died unexpectedly this past week bringing close to another epoch in a city always in ferment and frequently maligned by many intolerant Luddites for its progressive ways.

Its choice of Mayors and other elected officials reflects the perpetually ambivalent and restless nature of this rising economic colossus enjoying boom times albeit while the homeless are setting up tents under freeways and an increasingly dispirited middle class feels it has no place at the table as it sees the tax benefits getting doled out to those who least need them.

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Is the California economy healthy?

David Kersten

Kersten Institute for Governance and Public Policy

Job creation and economic growth continues to a top concern for voters, but recent economic indicators suggest that the California economy is declining relative to the national economy.

In recent political history, Governor Jerry Brown and the California Democrat Legislature have continued to take credit for what they claim continues to be a “strong” California economy, but to their great dismay, the economic evidence suggests that the national economy is now significantly outpacing economic growth in the State of California.

To be perfectly candid, the last thing California Democrats want to see is President Donald Trump succeed with the national economy, while their stewardship of the California economy falls short—but that appears to be exactly what is happening as the 2018 midterm elections approach.

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A Backdoor Attack on Health Care – Just Say No

David Panush

President of California Health Policy Strategies, a Sacramento based consulting group, and the former External Affairs Director of Covered California

Like drunken sailors on holiday, the Republican Congress and President Trump are poised to enact a massive, end-of-the year tax give-away.  The top 1% of American taxpayers benefit the most with hopes that some will trickle down.   After spending years touting their fiscal responsibility and railing against the federal deficit, their tax proposal is expected to increase federal debt by a more than $1 trillion, according to the Congress’s official scorekeeper, the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation.  The deal is even worse for California taxpayers because it caps deductions for state and local taxes.

But wait, there’s more.

After failing in their effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Congress has found a backdoor way of sabotaging the health reform law that millions depend on for their health coverage.  Shoe-horned into the tax cut legislation is a proposal that eliminates the current penalty for not buying health insurance.  

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Napolitano At the End

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)

I liked the idea of Janet Napolitano as leader of the University of California system.

The UC had become a convenient political punching bag for the governor and the legislature. Instead of investing in the system to transform it, California’s politicians would cut the UC – and then blame the UC for its responses, especially higher tuition fees, to those cuts.

The University of California, having been run by academics, had not fought back against these blasts. And so lawmakers have attacked the system with impunity, even as they themselves hurt it.

So why not bring in a politician—Napolitano—to fight back and put the legislature under fire?

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While California Put on ‘Road Diet,’ Drivers Still Stuck in Traffic Gridlock

Kerry Jackson

Kerry Jackson is a Fellow at the California Center for Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.

Quick, name the place where drivers suffer through maybe the worst traffic on Earth while policymakers are committed to making it altogether intolerable. Yes, of course it’s California.

Earlier this year, Inrix, a transportation analytics firm, ranked Los Angeles as the city with the worst traffic in the world, as measured by annual “peak hours spent in congestion.”

Southern California drivers who commute regularly to Los Angeles experience this gridlock every day. They spend an average of 104 hours “in congestion in 2016 during peak time periods.” Inrix says that sitting in traffic costs the average driver in the Southland $2,408 a year in lost productivity, and fuel burned while idling or creeping along in slow-moving parking lots.

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San Francisco Politics Turns the Page

Scott Lay

Publisher of The Nooner

Okay, we can talk some San Francisco politics in this period of grief. After all, the first decision is going to be by the Board of Supervisors. The Acting Mayor is London Breed, by way of being president of the Board of Supervisors, the same path that led Dianne Feinstein to become Mayor after the death of George Moscone (and of course supervisorial colleague Harvey Milk).

The Board of Supervisors, which operates as the governing body of the combined city and county, will now have the option to appoint an Acting Mayor, which could be Breed, another supervisor, or any other registered voter. If the Board appoints, the office will be next filled for a full term in in 2019. If the board does not act, the office will be filled for a partial term on June 5, 2018 ending in January 2020 following the 2019 regular municipal election.

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Meet Some Prop 57 Early Release Inmates

Michele Hanisee

President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys

We extensively chronicled how the Prop 57 campaign was sold on the lie that only “non-violent” criminals would be released early from their lawfully imposed state prison terms.  The decision on who gets the early release is now in the hands of the Board of Parole, whose release decisions show an appalling disregard of fact and reality.  Some examples of these early release decisions are highlighted below.

Paul Karl Anderson — With a criminal history that begins in 1981, and included felony convictions for assault and thefts, Anderson upped the ante in 1995 when he robbed a bank with a weapon and then held a hostage upon being tracked down by federal marshals.  The Board of Parole granted early release from the sentence imposed for his bank robbery/hostage taking because they determined Anderson does not “pose an unreasonable risk of violence to the community.” 

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Courage: The Most Overused Word In Politics

David Crane

Lecturer and Research Scholar at Stanford University and President of Govern for California

Does it take political courage for a California Democrat to attack Donald Trump? Obviously not, just as it didn’t take political courage for a red-state Republican to attack Barack Obama. To qualify as courageous, a political act must threaten the actor’s political future.Neither of the foregoing examples qualifies. Qualifying examples include Abraham Lincoln, who took on every political interest and more to preserve our union, and Lyndon Johnson, who took on his own party to pass civil rights legislation. More recent examples include Gina Raimondo, the governor of Rhode Island who took on the most powerful interests in her party in order to protect services for citizens, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who took on both political parties in leading successful efforts to end gerrymandering and partisan primaries in California. Not every action taken by those actors was courageous — look no further than LBJ’s Vietnam legacy. Each political action must be evaluated separately.

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Could Federal Tax Change Prompt a Move Against Prop 13? 

Joel Fox

Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Supporters of a split roll property tax smell opportunity in the federal tax bill. They are polling to see if the split roll can be advanced as an answer to tax deductibility changes under the proposed law.

The question of state and local tax deductions in the Republican tax bill is still being ironed out. However, early versions allowed for some deductibility of property taxes while shutting down income tax deductions.

California is a high income tax state not only with the highest tax rate of 13.3% but also with the 9.3% tax rate kicking in at $51,530 of taxable income. In order to offer tax relief to income tax payers who potentially lose deductions some officials are considering increasing the property tax, but that requires a change to Proposition 13.

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