Villaraigosa on Teachers Unions

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

Former Los Angeles mayor, California Assembly Speaker, and importantly, teacher union organizer, Antonio Villaraigosa had some sharp words for teachers unions in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. Reacting to rhetoric at two recent teacher conventions, Villaraigosa asked why the teachers unions were so resistant to change.

“As a former union leader and a life-long Democrat who supports collective bargaining, I am deeply troubled by the rhetoric and strategy we heard at both national conventions. They attacked an administration in Washington that helped protect 400,000 teaching jobs during the recession …” Villaraigosa wrote. “Others are in full-throated denial over the recent California court ruling striking down the state’s public school teacher tenure and seniority laws — despite compelling evidence that it is nearly impossible to remove ineffective teachers from the classroom and that the least effective teachers disproportionately end up in classrooms with low-income children.”

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A Claude Rains Moment On Campaign Spending

Tony Quinn
Political Analyst

(Editor’s Note: The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has filed a lawsuit to remove the measure discussed below from the ballot. 

More on the HJTA lawsuit can be found here.)

Worried about turnout in November, Democrats have placed an advisory measure on the fall ballot to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that allows unlimited independent expenditures by corporations and labor unions in political campaigns.   In permitting the measure to go to the November ballot, Gov Jerry Brown said Citizens United “was wrongly decided and grossly underestimated the corrupting influence of unchecked money on our democratic institutions.”

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AB 2171: Another Effort by Plaintiff’s Lawyers to Find New Ways to Sue

Tom Scott
Executive Director, California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

There are many reasons that California is ranked as the #1 Judicial Hellhole in the United States, including widespread abusive ADA lawsuits,shakedown Proposition 65 lawsuits or food litigation. But if some legislators get their way, things could get even worse. I’m referring to AB 2171, introduced by Assemblyman and Chairman of the Assembly Judiciary Committee Bob Wieckowski. If passed and signed by the Governor, it will set California’s legal climate even further back and encourage lawsuit abuse.

How? Simply put, AB 2171 provides yet another vehicle for shakedown lawsuits. It requires residential care facilities for the elderly to comply with an enormous list of new requirements using very subjective language. If any facility resident believes the facility hasn’t met these requirements, the bill empowers them to file a lawsuit seeking civil penalties against the facility. Translation: this bill enables any resident unhappy with any aspect of their stay at the facility to file lawsuit against the facility.

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What Is Holding Up California Ethics Reform?

Michelle Bergmann
California Reporting Reporter

2014 has seen numerous corruption stories in California government. Suspended State Senator Rod Wright awaits sentencing for eight felony counts of perjury and voter fraud. The FBI charged state Senator Ronald Calderon with accepting bribes. And most recently, suspended state Senator Leland Yee was indicted on federal corruption and gun running charges, along with a notorious San Francisco criminal figure memorably known as “Shrimp Boy.” All three senators have been suspended indefinitely.

“If two FBI raids on the Capitol aren’t enough to remind legislators on the importance of government ethics, nothing will be,” said Peter DeMarco, a spokesperson for the Senate Republican Caucus.

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How The Past Can Devour The Future

David Crane
Lecturer at Stanford University, President of Govern for California, and Former Economic Adviser to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

The stock market has hit record highs and public pension funds are reporting record levels of capital, yet public pension costs keep growing, leaving some observers puzzled. A new book by French economist Thomas Piketty helps clear up the confusion.

In his book, Capital in the 21st Century, Piketty explains that capital is wealth derived from past activities (e.g., your savings represent wealth you accumulated over the past) that combines with labor to produce, and split the benefits from, economic growth. Everything works fine so long as returns promised to capital are lower than economic growth rates. But when returns promised to capital are higher than economic growth rates, Piketty says the past “devours the future.”

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Dude, Growing Marijuana Uses 200 Times More Water Than Fracking!

Eric Eisenhammer
Founder of the Coalition of Energy Users, a nonprofit organization supporting access to affordable energy and quality jobs

Intent on ignoring facts and spreading hysteria, ideological opponents of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, have seized on the state’s drought as an excuse to demand a moratorium.  Never mind that fracking doesn’t even use much water.

Now, scientists with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife are warning that streams harboring endangered salmon and steelhead could go dry for an entirely different reason – because of the heavy water consumption of marijuana growers.  During growing season, marijuana consumes 60 million gallons of water a day.  That’s 200 times more water than is used in hydraulic fracturing operations and 50% more than consumed by the entire city of San Francisco.

This all raises an interesting question: Where is the alarmist press release from the folks at the Center for Biological Diversity demanding an immediate moratorium on marijuana?

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Tim Draper vs. Southern California

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)

To reiterate, I like the idea of the 6 Californias campaign because of the conversation it could spark about the state’s size, and our need to decentralize power from Sacramento. (I’m discounting the idea of California as six states because it won’t happen – voters are almost certain to turn it down and even if they approved it, the other states would never go along).

But the details of the ballot initiative, which seems headed to the 2016 ballot, are problematic. Among the biggest problems: it’s deeply hostile to Southern California.

Draper’s idea is supposed about empowering the state’s disparate regions. But his ballot initiative would split the biggest region in half, turning millions of Southern California commuters into people who work and live in different places.

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Taxes, Jobs and Patriotism

Stephen Moore
Chief Economist at the Heritage Foundation

What does it mean to be a “patriotic” American? I ask that question because there has been so much hullabaloo in recent weeks about American businesses leaving the U.S. and setting up factories overseas. This week, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew questioned whether these U.S. corporations are putting America first.

“What we need,” Mr. Lew lectured, “is a new sense of American patriotism.”

He said this as the Obama administration announced new rules this week that would financially punish American companies that relocate outside the U.S. in order to save on taxes.

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Why Kashkari’s Failure to Understand Schwarzenegger Is a Problem

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)

The problem wasn’t personality.

But it’s not surprising that Neel Kashkari, pressed to explain why his plans to fix California would succeed after Arnold Schwarzenegger’s plans failed, would latch onto the ex-governor’s personality. That personally is an awfully big target, after all. Kashkari pinned Schwarzenegger’s problems on wanting too much to be loved.

That’s diagnosis is so wrong, and so at odds with the record, that the comment alone raises questions about whether Kashkari is ready to be governor.

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Notes from the Weekend: Perez Out; Investors of High Speed Rail in?

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

John Perez has ended his recount bid that had brought out critics of both Perez for seeking the recount and California’s bizarre recount system, itself, in which a candidate can choose the county votes he or she wished to explore. Given the small margin of defeat, there has also been carping about the Perez campaign saying, essentially, as my old track coach would put it, you must run through the finish line. Given the money left over in the Perez campaign kitty, one wonders if an additional blitz with those funds might have helped the former assembly speaker find 500 votes that would have put him into the lead.

Now it’s on to November for Board of Equalization member Betty Yee. The Democratic Party has already rallied around Yee with the anticipation, as old friend and star analyst, Garry South, wrote on this site, Yee will win. We shall see. The controller’s fiscal responsibilities should give Republican Ashley Swearengin a platform to make her case for the job.

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