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Strong Mayor = Weaker City Management and Governance

William H. Edgar, Former City Manager, Sacramento (1993-99); Rodney S. Gould, City Manager, Santa Monica; Patricia E. Martel, City Manager, Daly City; Ted A. Gaebler, Retired City Manager, Rancho Cordova (2003-2014); All are members of the International City/County Management Association

Measure L, which would abandon Sacramento’s current council-manager structure in favor of the mayor-council system, will not strengthen the city’s government. Instead it would weaken the policy-making and representative role of the elected governing body as a whole and diminish the role of professional management while strengthening the powers of a single individual—the mayor.

It is instructive to borrow a lesson from the corporate world regarding governance. We have seen how too much power concentrated in too few individuals, poor incentive structures, and weak oversight can be disastrous. Many of the principles encompassed in the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act, a.k.a., Sarbanes-Oxley—which include independent directors, a chairperson who is not the CEO, a strong commitment to the oversight role of the board, transparency of action, and a strong commitment to ethics—are at the core of the council-manager form of government.

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Campaign 2014: Weekly Update, What’s Hot

Allan Hoffenblum
Publisher of the California Target Book and owner of Allan Hoffenblum & Associates

Entering the last two weeks of Campaign 2014, I am posting a weekly piece updating readers on the week’s latest campaign news. This is an abbreviated version of the Hot Sheet, which is regularly emailed to subscribers of the California Target Book.

SD32 (Open Seat): GOP Going After for a Big Upset Win: The CA Republican Party, along with an independent expenditure committee funded mostly by Charles Munger, Jr., and the CA Chamber of Commerce’s JobsPAC, have spent over $490,000, in an attempt to defeat former Democratic Asm. Tony Mendoza, who is being challenged by Republican Mario Guerra, the mayor of Downey. This seat is open due to state Sen. Ron Calderon being termed out. Calderon was suspended from the Senate earlier this year after being charged with bribery, money laundering and tax fraud.

The district, located in southeast Los Angeles County, has a 48% to 25% Democratic registration advantage. Brown outpolled Whitman here 56% to 36% in the 2010 election. In 2012, Obama outpolled Romney 64% to 34%.  A GOP win here would be a major upset.

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High Tech Edge Tilts To Los Angeles

Billie Greer
President, Southern California Leadership Council

The Silicon Valley is considered the high tech ‘‘capitol” of California, but it looks like Los Angeles is holding its own as a serious contender.

For years the Silicon Valley has been attracting some of the smartest whiz kids on the planet, who work for large, innovative companies chaired by whiz adults, or form their own start-ups inventing and producing products and systems which have brought about transformational change and revolutionized our lives as consumers.

But so, too, has Los Angeles, the Southland’s center of innovation. From the digital media revolution with roots in L.A’s gaming and entertainment industries, to space commercialization, transportation advances, the internet, biotech and technology startups, hundreds of companies are growing via an influx of venture capital and brilliant ideas from local research universities.

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Education Reform: #1 Issue on the Ballot in California

Larry Sand
President of the California Teachers Empowerment Network

“Teachers Unions Are Putting Themselves On November’s Ballot” was the headline in a recent article by Haley Edwards in Time Magazine. Okay, this is hardly news, but the extent of the largess is eye-opening. Considering that this is not a presidential election year, the political spending is noteworthy.

The National Education Association, the nation’s largest union, is on track to spend between $40 million and $60 million this election cycle, while its smaller sibling, the American Federation of Teachers, plans to throw in an additional $20 million – more than the organization has spent in any other year.

The reason for the spending orgy is easy to understand: education reform – at long last – has become an important issue with voters across the country. As Edwards writes,

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Jarvis Jesters

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

It’s late October and that means there are a lot of people out there wearing masks. But this isn’t about Halloween. This is about all the fake taxpayer interests – organizations and candidates – who are trying to gain an advantage in the upcoming election by portraying themselves as defenders of homeowners and Proposition 13.

At some level, we at Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association ought to be pleased that others are attempting to use our name and the Prop 13 label. This fakery, if nothing else, is an acknowledgment that taxpayer issues are very important to voters – even in a left leaning state like California. After all, isn’t imitation the sincerest form of flattery?

Perhaps. But we should not – and will not – countenance deception.

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Something New: Cross Party Appeal

Tony Quinn
Political Analyst

Have we ever had a more dismal election?  For the first time in 60 years there is no serious race for governor, nor any other partisan statewide office.  Voters in competitive districts are exposed to the usual swarm of campaign mailers.  But one thing is new this year; candidates in same party runoffs are making serious appeals across party lines, further evidence that our new “top two” primary is working as it should.

Because of our new primary system, California no longer nominates partisan candidates for state or federal office, instead the top two primary finishers run off in November.  As a consequence, this year there are 25 same party runoffs for Assembly, Senate and Congress.  Not all, of course, are serious campaigns, but those that are have found a magic bullet in appealing to members of the party that has no candidate on the ballot.

Consider the heavily Democratic 6th Senate district that covers mostly the city of Sacramento.  The top two finishers in the primary were the two Assembly members overlapping the Senate district, Assemblymen Roger Dickinson and Richard Pan, both Democrats.

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The Enigmatic Jerry Brown and a Fourth Term

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

Hard to argue with many of the sentiments that Jerry Brown expressed in his interview published over the weekend by the Los Angeles Times about his vision for a fourth term.

He talked about ending the “gold rush for new programs and spending” that legislators would seek giving an uptick in revenues. This page has written about that many times – take care of the spending side even if we need a spending limit to enforce controls. Brown says he wants to use common sense and the power of his office to control spending.

Brown spoke of the tens of thousands of laws put on Californians in the last half-century. Referring to too many building restrictions “like Gulliver being tied by these Lilliputians, with more and more little strings and ropes.” Many on this site have written about pulling back on regulations that hamper a growing economy. Limitations should be put on the number of laws passed annually. Some time and thought should be given by the legislature to reducing many laws on the books. As I have mentioned before, it is unfortunate on one level that the term often used for a legislator is lawmaker.

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A Proposition for Voters: Know Before You Go

F. Noel Perry
Founder of Next 10, an independent, nonpartisan organization that educates, engages, and empowers Californians to improve the state’s future. Next 10 funds research by leading experts on complex state issues.

A strong California depends on an informed and active electorate. But too often, voters don’t have ready access to enough information to cast an informed vote. By the time Election Day comes around, your typical voter has received dozens of mailers and viewed countless TV commercials—few of which give an unbiased view of the state ballot measures.

Deciding which way to vote can be especially tricky in a year of heavily lopsided fundraising, when one side is spending a lot more money to get its message out. Take, for example, Props 1, 2, and 47 where supporters have spent millions more than opponents.  Similarly, opponents of Props 45, 46, and 48 have outspent supporters by millions. These interest groups sometimes frustrate voters to the point that they disengage from election issues.

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Local Governments Seeking Voter Approval of Huge Number of Tax Increases in November

David Kline
Vice President of Communications and Research, California Taxpayers Association

When voters go to the polls November 4, they will decide the fate of a large number of school bonds, parcel taxes, sales taxes, utility users’ taxes and other measures that will impact their family budgets.

Despite the improving state economy that is increasing government revenue under existing tax rates, 53 jurisdictions are seeking sales tax increases, 40 are asking voters to approve parcel taxes, and school districts have placed 113 school bond measures on the ballot. If all of the school bonds are approved, taxpayers will have to repay more than $11.7 billion in new bond debt, plus interest.

While an overwhelming number of tax and bond measures have the support of local newspapers, as is historically the case, several of the measures on the November ballot have drawn opposition from newspaper editorial boards.

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Is San Francisco Becoming More Libertarian than Leftist?

Steve Frank
Publisher of California Political News and Views

San Fran is changing. The poor and middle class are being moved out, can no longer afford high taxes, low pay and a government that loves regulations. In their place are technology workers—very well paid, can afford the rents; to buy a home, to pay for the San Fran taxes and lifestyle. Unlike the poor and middle class, they are concerned about personal freedom and are creating a new San Fran, one that prefers the individual to the masses. They want personal freedom and that includes less taxes and less regulations.

This is a new San Fran we are watching being created. It might take another ten years before this city by the bay becomes the first libertarian city in the nation.

According to this piece in Breitbart-California, “The Chronicle reports that leftists have lost control of the Board of Supervisors to mere Democrats, and aren’t running any challengers in November’s election. They had their last mayor of the city in 1992, when Art Agnos held the post. As the Chronicle wrote, the Bay Area’s far-left’s “attempts to block Google buses and force Airbnb to pay back hotel taxes have failed to make much of a dent in the economic boom that’s contributed to San Francisco’s rash of evictions and growing income disparity.”

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