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Seeking More Voters Spurs Probable Change in L.A. Elections

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

It’s about the numbers, or shall we say the lack of numbers, when Los Angeles voters come out to vote in city elections. The 23% turnout this last city election meant that few registered voters put the new mayor, Eric Garcetti, into office. With the current trend lines in voting in the city election, the next mayor may be elected by less than 10% of the voters. The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to ask for a charter change so that the city elections move from odd numbered years to even numbered years to combine with presidential and gubernatorial elections.

There was concern expressed by council members during the discussion for making the change.

  • The ballot will be too long.
  • Newspapers and other media would not have the resources to cover municipal elections if they are also concerned with federal and state races.
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A Cautionary Tale for Fiscal Reformers

Mark Baldassare
President of the Public Policy Institute of California

One of the biggest surprises in the PPIC Statewide Surveys this fall has been the inability of Proposition 2 (aka the rainy day fund) to garner majority support from voters. The measure—which was placed on the November ballot by the governor and a unanimous vote of the legislature—allows for annual transfers of revenues into an account to be used only for fiscal emergencies and to pay off state debt.

Support did rise from 43 percent in our September poll to 49 percent in October. This may be a sign that Proposition 2 can defy the conventional political wisdom about ballot measures starting out with less than 50 percent support being doomed to fail. Certainly, its supporters find this trend encouraging. But, given the widespread support for the idea of a rainy day fund in earlier PPIC polls, why is Proposition 2 struggling to achieve majority support? Further analysis of our survey results offers a cautionary tale about the political pitfalls of fiscal reforms.

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Will The Los Angeles Times Be the City’s Watchdog?

Jack Humphreville
LA Watchdog writer for CityWatch, President of the DWP Advocacy Committee, Ratepayer Advocate for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and Publisher of the Recycler

With lots of fanfare, The Los Angeles Times is relaunching the California section with an increased emphasis on local and statewide news with “in-depth coverage of key government institutions.”  This would include the City of Los Angeles, the County, the Los Angeles Unified School District, Sacramento, and other governmental institutions such as the City’s three proprietary departments, Water and Power, the Port of Los Angeles, and LAX.

There certainly is no lack of material.

Our City is essentially broke.  We are burdened with over $30 billion of debt, unfunded pension liabilities, and deferred maintenance on our streets, sidewalks, and the rest of our failing infrastructure.  The City is also projecting a budget deficit of $165 million and $425 million over the next three years and has no clue how it intends to finance its share of the revitalization of the Los Angeles River, its ambitious Sustainability Initiative, or Great Streets, the strategic plan for the Department of Transportation.  

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Will New State Senate President Kevin De León Help California Create More Jobs?

Tom Scott
Executive Director, California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

Congratulations to new State Senate president pro tem Kevin de León! De León has committed himself to improving the state’s economy and creating jobs, both of which certainly deserve the attention of state leadership. To create jobs, we must improve the state’s business climate – especially when it comes to the sad state of the California’s civil justice climate.

California is ranked by the American Tort Reform Association for being the#1 Judicial Hellhole in the nation, and CEO Magazine has ranked California for 10 years in a row as being the worst state for business. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform ranked California 47thin the nation in its courts’ “fairness and reasonableness” regarding business lawsuits.

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Internet Boosting Small Business

Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski
California State Assembly, 25th District

Living in the Bay Area, you see daily reminders of how the Internet is rapidly changing how we all do business. Global tech companies in Silicon Valley serve as constant reminders that we live in a 21st Century economy, one that allows for business to occur around the world at the speed of light.

Internet companies provide their users profound benefits such as access to an almost limitless amount of information, the ability to connect with people in ways never before imagined, and the tools to harness and share the creativity of users with audiences worldwide.  Business owners in particular can now reach much larger audiences and promote themselves in more compelling ways, often at no cost.

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Curious Numbers in PPIC Poll

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

What to make of some of the findings in the most recent Public Policy Institute of California poll? In a state in which Governor Jerry Brown has positive poll numbers and Independent voters historically lean Democratic, why are the Independents barely breaking for Brown over Republican Neel Kashkari?

Brown leads Kashkari 44% to 40%, while 13% said they didn’t know whom they would vote for? The four-point edge for Brown is within the poll’s margin of error. Is Brown’s strength not as great as most observers believe?

Clearly, Latinos are the big difference in the governor’s race. In fact, Kashkari actually has a one-point edge over Brown amongst white voters. Latinos support Brown 73% to 19%. If Republicans need another reminder that they have to make inroads with the Latino electorate, there it is.

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Why Californians Should Love Chevron

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)

Dear Chevron,

I will not compare thee to a summer’s day. I cannot say you smell like a rose.

But make no mistake: I love you.

You are unaccustomed, I know, to getting letters like this. Love is usually reserved for younger, sexier companies–Google, Apple, or Twitter–across the bay from your San Ramon headquarters. You and other oil companies are villains in today’s California: polluters, price gougers, perpetrators of climate change. In this fall’s gubernatorial debate, Jerry Brown disapprovingly noted your $21 billion in profits last year and blamed you and other oil companies for forest fires and rising sea levels. And I’m not going to get into the ongoing fights over the 2012 explosion at your refinery in Richmond that caused thousands of people to seek medical treatment.

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Which Job Boards Are Used by California’s Employment Professionals?

Michael Bernick
Former California Employment Development Department Director & Milken Institute Fellow

Which job boards are used by California’s employment professionals today?

Earlier this month, Transmosis, the tech group dedicated to fuller employment in California,     undertook a survey of 21 job counselors associated with two Workforce Investment Boards, NOVA in Silicon Valley and Contra Costa County. Job counselors were asked, “Which internet job placement sites have you utilized in the past three months?”,and “Of the sites utilized, which has proved most effective?”

The results are summarized below. 27 internet websites were mentioned as sites utilized in the past 3 months, but only 6 internet sites were cited by more than 4 of the 21 counselors. Among the sites utilized, 12 were cited as “most effective”, but only 4 sites received more than one mention (counselors could vote for more than one site in this category).

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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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