Partisanship Must Be Harnessed, Not Thought

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)

News item: Pete Peterson, the Republican candidate for California Secretary of State, has 30 percent support, and a big lead, in a new Field Poll.

Reaction: As readers of this site know, I’m a big fan of Pete and his work on civic engagement in local communities around California. He’d make a terrific Secretary of State, and would transform the office in important ways.

But that’s not why Peterson has that level of support in the polls. Those surveys reflect one fact: Peterson is a Republican.

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The Cost of Driving in California

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

Feeling the pain of gasoline prices? In California the average price of gasoline is about $4.20 a gallon. That’s second highest in the nation behind Hawaii. Some of the recent jump in state gas cost can be attributed to refinery troubles. But California also leads the nation in taxing gasoline.

According to a chart prepared by energy giant Exxon Mobil earlier this year, California is the only state with combined state, local and federal tax that tops 70-cents a gallon.

Of course, some in the Golden State  think that is not enough.  Efforts to create an oil severance tax would add to the cost of gasoline, perhaps even vaulting the per gallon price of gas past Hawaii, which has the extra burden of importing its oil.

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Pork Barrel Spending Plan with Funding from Cap and Trade

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

With a major announcement last Monday, Senate pro Tem Senator Darrell Steinberg announced a new major spending initiative with the funding to come from expected Cap and Trade revenues.

Steinberg’s proposal can be viewed here.

The plan encompasses a wide range of projects, from transportation, to new streets, funding for below market rate housing, funding for transportation and, of course, major funding for High Speed Rail.

This is the kind of new spending that Governor Jerry Brown has continually opposed and  on numerous occasions, he has stated now was not the time to be starting many new spending proposals.

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If the Government Takes Your Money Illegally, Shouldn’t You Get it Back?

George Runner
Member of the California State Board of Equalization, District 2

Did you know, if the State of California takes your money in the form of an illegal tax or fee, you might not be able to get it back?

I was outraged when I first learned if a taxpayer pays a tax or fee that is later found to be unconstitutional or illegal in court, the government does not necessarily have to refund their money.

Currently, taxpayers are only eligible to receive refunds if they have exhausted all of their “administrative appeals remedies,” even if the tax they paid is later declared illegal or unconstitutional.

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Can Good Government and First Amendment Groups Win Back the Public Trust?

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)

It’s clear, with the charges against noted campaign finance advocate Leland Yee, that good government and campaign finance reform groups that gave him awards have lost the public’s trust. I call upon them need to take steps to win it back.

It’s also clear that, given Yee’s strong support among First Amendment advocates, press freedom groups that gave him awards also need to restore the public’s trust in them. I call upon those First Amendments to adopt a program to win that trust back.

And what should we say about gun control advocates, who are clearly sullied by Yee’s support for gun control? Any abuse of trust by a gun control advocate is, of course, a violation of the public trust by all such advocates. I call upon them to take steps to win back the public’s trust.

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Local and State Politics Will Spark LA’s New Newspaper

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

Increasing the voices of political diversity is one of the missions of California’s newest newspaper, the Los Angeles Register. Did I just write that a new newspaper is opening in this digital age? The owners of Freedom Communications, publishers of the Orange County Register and other newspapers, launched their swim against the tide Wednesday when the first edition of the Los Angeles Register hit the streets.

Owners of the paper were direct in expressing their model for success: report on local communities and offer diverse voices – especially a different take on the world from the neighborhood behemoth, Los Angeles Times.

Freedom Communications co-owners Eric Spitz and Aaron Kushner wrote in a front page column, “The Register brand has stood for free markets and individual liberties since 1906, and we will carry this tradition forward.”

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Leon Panetta’s Recipe For Good Governance Is To Remember Who You Work For

Ed Coghlan
Contributing Editor & Special Correspondent, California Forward

Three months into 2014 and three California State Senators have had brushes with the law. Needless to say, public confidence in elected officials is shaken.

It’s understandable, but like any setback in life, it’s also an opportunity to reflect and change for the better.

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Boeing Provides a Spark to the Economy

Gary Toebben
President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

A job is like a fire, providing energy, light, heat and sustenance to the life of the person who holds the flame. It illuminates the vision ahead to see a brighter future of caring for oneself and our families. Last week, the Los Angeles region received the promise of many more lights with The Boeing Co.’s announcement that it would soon be moving 1,000 high paying skilled engineering jobs to our communities.

“The Company’s announcement … indicates that much of the work on next-generation aircraft will transition from Washington state to California by the end of 2015,” stated the Los Angeles Times. This could be the start of reversing the trend we have seen over the last 20-plus years in the aerospace industry in California.

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Governor Brown Unveils His Rainy Day Reserve – A Reform That Fits The Times

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

Governor Brown was in office when the first state spending limit was passed in 1979. Yesterday he proposed a measure that might actually work as advertised.

We’ve learned a lot about state budgets, revenues and unintended consequences during the past 35 years. Governor’s Brown’s rainy day reserve nods to that experience, and brings forth a proposal more focused yet more achievable than past efforts.

Reformers have been at this a long time.

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Prop 13 Poll Question Not About Split Roll

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

Advocates for a split roll property tax probably hailed the results of the Field Poll question about business property changing ownership. Trouble is, the question wasn’t about a split roll property tax in which all business property would be taxed differently from residential property. The question was about certain commercial property transfers of ownership.

Here is the question asked by Field: Because of complexities in the way businesses and commercial properties are sold, they, unlike residential properties, are not always reassessed when ownership is transferred. Do you favor or oppose changing Prop. 13 to insure that when business and commercial properties are sold or transferred, their property taxes are reset and based on their current assessed value?

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