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How to Solve Skelton’s Riddle

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)

In a recent column, George Skelton of the Los Angeles Times takes a sideways shot at Gov. Jerry Brown.

The columnist’s charge? That the governor, by campaigning for two ballot measures (the Prop 1 water bond and the constitutional budget-and-debt formula known as Prop 2), was distracting people from the fact that he hasn’t come up with any second-term agenda to speak with.

“About the only thing Propositions 1 and 2 have in common is they’re being used as props of a different kind by Gov. Jerry Brown. They’re handy stage props for the governor’s reelection campaign.” Then Skelton adds: “But promoting them doesn’t give Brown a valid excuse for not telling voters what they can expect from a fourth term.”

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Deeper In Debt Or A Better Water Policy? Voters Will Decide In November

Lawrence McQuillan and Rebecca Harris
Lawrence J. McQuillan is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation at The Independent Institute (independent.org), Publisher of Aquanomics: Water Markets and the Environment (2012). Rebecca Harris is a Public Policy Analyst with the Institute.

In November, California voters will decide the fate of a proposed $7.5 billion water bond, Proposition 1. Rather than approve more debt, voters should pressure governments at all levels to end policies that encourage urban and agricultural water waste. Consider rice, though these problems apply to other crops.

California is the second-largest producer of rice in the country thanks to massive government subsidies. According to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, rice is the most heavily subsidized crop in the United States, with government assistance providing half the income of U.S. rice farmers. California rice farmers took in subsidies totaling $2.6 billion from 1995 through 2012.

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The Red Bull Class Action

Tom Scott
Executive Director, California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

The Red Bull class action lawsuit is complete bull****. Sorry, I figured that was the easiest way to get your attention.

In case you have not heard about it, the Austria-based drink giant settled a class action lawsuit for false advertising a couple of weeks ago for $13 million. As part of the settlement, consumers who bought the drink between January 1, 2002 and October 3, 2014 are eligible to receive $10 cash or $15 worth of Red Bull products.

So at some point in 2015 you will receive your payment. The suit argued that customers were misled by claims about the benefits of drinking Red Bull, with a specific focus on statements such as “Red Bull gives you wings.” Red Bull said it settled the suit to “avoid the cost and distraction of litigation” but denied it did any wrong doing.

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Alarcon’s Real Crime: He Served Himself Better Than He Served His People

Ron Kaye
Former Editor of the Los Angeles Daily News

HE COULD HAVE BEEN A CONTENDER-Faced with charges the he lied about living in his San Fernando Valley Council District, Richard Alarcon defended himself with the same tactics that had become the hallmark of his wasted political career: he denied, deflected, deceived and dissembled.

The judge and jury would have none of it. Alarcon was caught red-handed living outside his district while claiming his vagrant-occupied home in his district was really his place of official residence.

In trying to avoid jail time for Alarcon, his attorney, ignoring so many examples, made the blatantly false argument that there’s “not a single instance of him acting in a greedy fashion or in any manner to betray the citizens of this city.” 

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New Arthur Laffer Book Details Reagan Prosperity Recipe

John Seiler
John Seiler, an editorial writer with The Orange County Register for 19 years, is a reporter and analyst for CalWatchDog.com.

If you have a great recipe, keep using it. Don’t be chicken. Just ask Col. Sanders.

Why then don’t Republican candidates just follow Ronald Reagan’s successful economic recipe from the 1980s? Cut taxes; in his case, from the top income tax rate of 70 percent in 1980 to 28 percent in 1988. Keep money stable to prevent inflation. Reduce spending and regulations as much as you can. Simple.

Yet not one Republican president or candidate for the office since then has followed the Reagan recipe. President George H.W. Bush sat next to Reagan as vice president for eight years, solemnly gave his “Read my lips: No new taxes!” pledge at the 1988 GOP National Convention — then still raised taxes, crashed the economy and was booted from office in favor of Bill Clinton.

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Prop 1 Roots Go Back to Water Bonds that Built California

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

You might say that Proposition 1, the water bond, carries the DNA of bonds that promoted a growing and prosperous California. Water bonds helped build the Los Angeles Aqueduct in the early 1900s to make possible the growth of one of the world’s great cities. Another bond helped build the State Water Project half-a-century later, which, among other things, helped spur the state’s agricultural abundance. With the state facing a drought of staggering proportions, Proposition 1 would continue California’s long history of providing and caring for precious water resources.

The seven-plus billion dollar bond contains money for protecting watersheds, cleaning contaminated groundwater, and water recycling among other projects. But unlike water bonds passed in the last decade, the heritage that the Prop 1 bond shares with the bonds that helped build California is the $2.7 billion set aside for water storage projects, dams and reservoirs, almost 40-percent of the total bond.

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November Turnout Could Deliver Pleasant Surprises for GOP

Tim Clark
GOP campaign consultant for 20 years. He served as Campaign Manager for Steve Poizner’s Insurance Commissioner race. Poizner is the last California Republican to win a statewide down-ticket contest.

In my 20 years of waging California GOP campaigns, I’ve never seen turnout trends quite like those shaping up for 2014.  As more surveys are conducted, it appears that California voter turnout could drop below 45%, possibly even lower than 40%.

Democrats have little interest in this election.  Republicans are more motivated, but the wildcard is “no-party-preference” voter turnout, where surveys indicate a growing interest in the election.

In November, “no party preference” voters could come close to 25% of the overall turnout – at least 5 points higher than years past.

What’s that mean?

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Can a Higher Minimum Wage Lower Your Quality of Life?

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)

Will you actually be richer when your pay is raised to $15 per hour?

Perhaps the question seems ludicrous. Of course you’re better off making $15 an hour than you were at $9 per hour, right? But the answer is, unfortunately, not as obvious as you might think. And the question itself–will workers getting a raise be better off?–has been missing from this fall’s white-hot debate over efforts in San Francisco and Los Angeles to establish $15 per hour minimum wages.

Instead, in California we’ve seen the same old tired arguments over whether a higher minimum wage hurts business and reduces jobs–or whether it boosts the economy by giving workers more money to spend. For the record, I think a higher minimum wage makes sense in today’s California; $15 per hour isn’t much anymore in our coastal cities. But I’m troubled by our failure to consider the real-world impact of minimum-wage hikes on those who are supposed to benefit directly: the workers getting them.

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Darkness at Noon

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

Earlier this week, the death of David Greenglass at age 92 was announced in the New York Times. Few Californians today have heard of him or even of the espionage trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in 1951, in which he was a key witness. Yet, both the trial and the subsequent revelations have important lessons for us in California civic and political life today, that should not go uncommented on.

rosenbergThe Rosenberg case has its roots in the spy investigations of the late 1940s. In early 1950, Klaus Fuchs, a physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos during World War II to develop the atomic bomb, was discovered to have given classified information on the bomb to the Soviet Union during World War II. Fuchs admitted his action and identified Harry Gold, as his courier, and Gold in turn identified David Greenglass, a former machinist at Los Alamos, as a collaborator.

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CA Supreme Court ‘All Aboard’ For High-Speed Rail

John Seiler
John Seiler, an editorial writer with The Orange County Register for 19 years, is a reporter and analyst for CalWatchDog.com.

All aboooooard!

In what probably is the last train stop of opposition to California’s high-speed rail project, today the California Supreme Court refused to hear a case that could have stopped it. The case, by Kings County and two local landowners whose property would be bulldozed for the project, objected that the Legislature had altered the project from the clear language of Proposition 1A in 2008, which authorized $8.6 billion in state bonds for the project.

According to California High-Speed Rail Authority Board Chairman Dan Richard, as reported in the Times, the decision:

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