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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Housing shortage biggest threat to California’s growth

Loren Kaye

President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

The overall California economy is humming along quite nicely, and even though we may be overdue for a turn in the business cycle, there are few indications of the threats to economic growth that usually precede a downturn.

Parts of the Bay Area and Southern California are beyond full employment, which means some California regions are creating more jobs than the labor force can support. This situation points to an inevitable threat to growth, which will be the inability to recruit a skilled labor force for the jobs being created. And the ability to maintain a skilled workforce is hamstrung by California’s housing shortage.

In a well-argued essay in Beaconomics, the publication by, yes, Beacon Economics, Economist and Executive Director of Research Robert Kleinhenz makes a compelling argument for accelerated production of market rate housing. (Full disclosure: Beacon Founding Partner Christopher Thornburg chairs the CalChamber Economic Advisory Committee.)

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Let’s Not Make Working-Class Housing More Expensive in Los Angeles 

Gary Toebben

President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

Today the Los Angeles City Council will vote to approve a per square foot impact fee on new commercial, industrial and residential construction in L.A. Labeled an Affordable Housing Linkage Fee (AHLF), this new development fee by city government will be used to fund low-income housing. While the business community strongly supports affordable housing, we’re advocated against this proposal because it will make middle-class housing more expensive to build, buy or rent.

However, Councilman Gil Cedillo introduced a motion last week, to be considered tomorrow as well, that could lessen the detrimental impact of a linkage fee on middle-income housing. With the goal of incentivizing production of middle-income housing, Councilman Cedillo’s motion asks for a report back within the next two months on how to provide an exemption to the linkage fee for units affordable to middle-income households earning between 120 percent and 150 percent of the area median income.

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Remembering Mayor Ed Lee

Jim Wunderman

President and CEO of the Bay Area Council

Mayor Ed Lee devoted his life to public service, to helping and fighting for those less fortunate and working to make San Francisco the great city it is. His compassion, thoughtfulness and humble style were his great strengths and allowed him to focus on improving San Francisco for everyone.

San Francisco and the Bay Area have lost a great leader and public servant with the sudden passing of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. On behalf of our Board of Directors and our hundreds of member companies, the Bay Area Council extends its deepest condolences to Mayor Lee’s wife, Anita, his two daughters, Brianna and Tania, and his entire family. Mayor Lee loved San Francisco and its people and worked his entire career to make it a better place. He wasn’t flashy, but he was effective, hard-working and dedicated. Even more, he was a compassionate and deeply caring man who dedicated himself to improving the lives of others.

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2018 Brings New Rules for Immigration Worksite Enforcement Actions

Chris Micheli

Attorney and Lobbyist at the Sacramento government relations firm of Aprea & Micheli, Inc.

Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 450 (Chiu – San Francisco) on October 4, 2017 as Chapter 492 dealing with immigration worksite enforcement actions. Effective January 1, 2018, California employers need to be aware of the numerous provisions of this new law.

This bill adds Government Code Section 7285.1 to prohibit an employer (or a person acting on the employer’s behalf), “except as otherwise required by federal law,” from providing “voluntary consent” to an immigration enforcement agent to enter any nonpublic areas of a place of labor. However, this prohibition does not apply if the immigration enforcement agent provides a judicial warrant.

Any employer who violates this new section will be assessed a civil penalty of $2,000 to $5,000 for a first violation and $5,000 to $10,000 for each subsequent violation. If a court finds that an immigration enforcement agent was permitted to enter a nonpublic area of a place of labor without the employer’s consent, then this civil penalty is not assessed.

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