High Speed Rail Attempt To Lure Private Investors To “Show Us The Money” Fails Miserably

Morris Brown
Resident of Menlo Park and Founder of DERAIL, a grassroots effort against the California high-speed rail project

Bergman Cartoon

At the last HSR Authority board meeting, (Oct 6 2015), a presentation was given by CEO Jeff Morales, who had been ballyhooing that 36 private party organizations had responded to the Authority’s “Request for Expressions of Interest” invitation which was sent out a couple of months ago.

Mr. Morales would have you believe that there is now intense interest on the part of private investors to become a part of the project.   Private party funding was always envisioned to be a major source of capital to build the project, along with Prop 1A bond funds, and Federal Government grants. According to Morales, the now approved addition of State funding from Cap-and-Trade funding in the amount of around $500 million per year, was going to push private investors to invest their funds, which they had been thus far, now about 8 years into the project, been unwilling to contribute.

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Saving the Climate and the Poor from Sacramento

Luke Phillips
Research Associate for the Center for Opportunity Urbanism and Senior Correspondent at Glimpse From the Globe

California has always been a harbinger of new ideas and bold proposals. That was once a good thing, when California’s economic and social policies encouraged middle-class opportunity, entrepreneurship, and social mobility, way back in the 1960s California described in Kevin Starr’s Golden Dreams. But the contemporary California political elite tends to pioneer the way in policies that endanger this spirit of opportunity that once made California great. Two recent stories illustrate the lunacy our political class substitutes for good policy.

Several weeks ago, a whole raft of Governor Jerry Brown’s anti-climate change legislation was soundly defeated. But this past week, the same legislation passed with some amendments, and Governor Brown signed it into law on Wednesday. The boldest of these proposals called for a 50% cut in petroleum usage statewide by 2030 (amended later to 2050.) Others increased regulatory standards and supported increased usage of biofuels. The agenda is clear- through the power of state government, bring California’s carbon emissions down to lead the fight against climate change through the force of example.

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Setting the Record Straight on Common Core

Tom Umberg and Bill Habermehl
Tom Umberg, Former California State Assemblymember representing Orange County. Bill Habermehl, Superintendent Emeritus, Orange County Department of Education

Common Core has divided Orange County. More than in almost any other region in California, the updated education standards have caused heated public debate and fiery speeches on both sides, all playing out in our local press and politics. With the recent release of the Common Core-aligned test scores, the controversy will heat up again.

Unfortunately, the divisive nature of the debate has obscured some crucial facts. The reality is that Common Core isn’t about pundits, or left versus right, or states versus the federal government. Common Core is about learning the basic skills in mathematics language arts that all students nationally, and in Orange County, should know.

If you just read the headlines, you might not realize that most of the controversy surrounding Common Core is coming from political insiders fighting with each other, not average citizens voicing concerns. That’s how updating our education standards got misconstrued as federal government intrusion and so-called “brainwashing.”

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California Makes It Easier To Register To Vote—But Will More People Cast A Ballot?

Ed Coghlan
Contributing Editor & Special Correspondent, California Forward

Californians, including the estimated 6.6 million eligible Californians who aren’t registered, will soon have fewer excuses for not registering to vote.

Governor Brown signed a landmark measure into law over the weekend that will allow eligible Californians to be automatically registered to vote when they go to the Department of Motor Vehicles office to obtain or renew a driver’s license.

“In a free society, the right to vote is fundamental,” California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who had sponsored and promoted the bill, said in a statement. “I applaud Governor Brown for his leadership and bold action to increase voter participation in our state.”

Voter turnout, a problem nationally, reared its head last November when just 42 percent of Californians turned out.

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All Taxes Are Temporary

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)

Here’s yet another example that California politics is an entirely different universe that is decidedly not our own: the debate over “permanent” versus “temporary” tax increases.

The context is the 2016 ballot and the various tax-hiking ballot initiatives that may or may not end up on it. Temporary taxes are thought to be more popular, and political “wise men” (I use the quotes because many are women and many aren’t all that wise) advise people to make their tax hikes temporary. In response, anti-taxers warn darkly that temporary taxes end up being permanent.

A note to California political elites: this is stupid stuff, even for you.

I just got a text from Planet Reality and it says: all taxes are temporary.

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Is There a Willie Brown in Congress?

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

The battle in the Republican congressional caucus over choosing a leader just might open an opportunity for a strategic, politically savvy Democrat to take a shot at the speakership. Very unlikely, certainly, but the situation in Washington must remind some Californians of the wily moves by Democratic Speaker Willie Brown to keep hold the reins of power in the Assembly a couple of decades ago even when Republicans seemed to take the majority.

A little history.

First, let’s go back to Willie Brown first taking the speaker’s gavel as a surprise candidate in 1980. Assemblyman Howard Berman challenged fellow Democrat, Speaker Leo McCarthy, for the post. With the split of the Democratic members over who should take the speaker’s gavel, Brown was able to cobble together a deal securing Republican minority votes along with less than half the Democratic Assembly members to become speaker. Brown promised to consider Republicans for committee chairmanships and vice-chairmanships and also offered a budget for Republicans to create a team working on the decennial redistricting effort, then controlled by the legislature.

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Bipartisan Medical Marijuana Reform Cause for Optimism in Capitol

Assemblyman Tom Lackey
California State Assembly, 36th District

For all of the talk of partisan gridlock in Washington and the shortcomings of America’s political system, people would do well to take notice of what is happening here in California on an issue you would hardly expect bipartisan agreement.

Governor Brown recently signed a package of bills which will provide a statewide framework for medical marijuana—something that has been lacking since 1996 when voters first approved it.

I was proud to be part of this effort—not because I support marijuana use but instead because it was an opportunity for lawmakers to come together and work pragmatically toward a solution.

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Silicon Valley Moving Toward Alliance With Big Labor

Ed Ring
Executive Director, California Public Policy Center

Back in the late 1970’s something happened to the Santa Clara Valley. Increasingly it became referred to as the Silicon Valley, because the emerging silicon based semiconductor industry found its first home in plants nestled along the southern shores of the San Francisco Bay. Boasting what are among the finest universities in the United States – Stanford and Cal Berkeley – and the best weather in the world, high technology companies began choosing the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1940’s and never looked back. Where once there were endless orchards of Prune, Apricot and Cherry trees, a sprawling ecosystem of high tech companies and venture capital firms now attracts talent from everywhere on earth. The Silicon Valley became, and remains, the epicenter of the most dramatic technological advances in history.

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GO-Biz Kicks-Off a Series of Statewide Small Business Summits

Fox and Hounds Daily Editors

(Editor’s Note—the following release on Small Business Summits was issued by the Governor’s GO-Biz Office) 

The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) is holding a small business summit in Clovis on Tuesday, October 13, from 7:30 a.m. to noon, to help small business owners and entrepreneurs access resources to expand and add jobs.

It is part of a series of small business summits that will be held statewide, according to California Small Business Advocate Jesse Torres. “We are starting the summits in Clovis to help the center of the state continue to grow its economy and create jobs after the recession,” said Torres.

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Too Bad for Kevin McCarthy, Very Bad for California

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

Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s problem in capturing the Speakership of the House of Representatives was bigger than the gaffe he made is describing the effect of the special Benghazi committee– although that certainly greatly contributed to his downfall. The fact that he could not unite a fractured GOP caucus that sees increasing fissures daily proved not only a hurdle for McCarthy but portends more dysfunction in Congress. That’s bad for the country.

McCarthy’s failure to secure the speaker’s office is also bad for California. Having the leadership of both parties resting with California representatives (San Francisco Representative Nancy Pelosi leads the Democrats) could possibly help the Golden State, which is often ignored by Washington, especially in the area of sending back money that California taxpayers pay into the national treasury.

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