Another Consequence Tied to Tax Return Mandate Ploy

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Articles have been written, by Tony Quinn on this page and elsewhere, that the California Democratic legislators’ and governor’s ploy to keep President Trump off the primary ballot by demanding tax returns could suppress Republican voter turnout resulting in more Democratic vs. Democratic runoff elections for legislative seats under the top two primary system. But there is a second major consequence that would occur by holding down Republican votes: empowering ballot measures supported by the Democrat’s supermajority control of the legislature. They stand a much better chance of passing if fewer Republican voters show up.

The threat still exists to some extent even if Trump wins his lawsuit to strike down the law requiring tax returns. With a supermajority in the legislature, Democrats could put constitutional amendments on the ballot with a two-thirds vote. No need for the governor to sign on. With a hotly contested Democratic primary, the March election portends a strong Democratic voter turnout.

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Stop Repeating the Lie About the OC Turning Blue

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)

While I’m glad to see Trump-era Republicans suffer humiliation and worse, the headlines about “Orange County Turning Blue” really upset me.

That framing – the O.C. Is Now Blue — represents how awfully anti-democratic American politics has become.

The idea reflects the “winner-take-all” thinking that poisons our politics. When results and elections are close, we don’t share power or representation. The winning politician or party gets it all.

“Winner take all” thinking is how you end up describing a narrow lead in registered voters (of fewer than 1000 voters as of this writing) by one party as the political turnover of a county. There’s an authoritarian, even militaristic cast to this, as though Orange County has fallen to the blue piece in some California version of the game Risk.

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Impact of Scooters on Environment Still in Question

Chris Reed
San Diego Union Tribune editorial writer and former host of KOGO Radio’s “Top Story” weeknight news talk show

The dockless electric scooters that started popping up in California cities three years ago are facing a two-front backlash. 

The first front involves complaints over heavy use hurting quality of life in tourist areas and posing safety risks to both users and pedestrians.

In Los Angeles, anger over scooters has left city leaders increasingly open to a regulatory crackdown and led to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of scooters being vandalized. In San Diego, California’s second largest city, whether to ban or severely limit scooters is shaping up as a major issue in the 2020 mayoral race. One of the two early frontrunners, Democratic Assemblyman Todd Gloria, is a scooter supporter. The other, Democratic Councilwoman Barbara Bry, sees them as a failed experiment. 

The second front of criticism has generally caught the scooter industry by surprise: That’s the view that one of scooters’ main selling points – that they help the environment by limiting vehicle emissions – is exaggerated or false. 

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Were Pension Benefits Enhanced Without Due Process?

Edward Ring
Edward Ring is the vice president of research policy for the California Policy Center.

In 1999, at the height of the stock market runup fueled by the internet bubble, California’s state legislature passed SB 400, which increased pension benefits for officers with the California Highway Patrol. Over the next several years, pension benefits were similarly increased for government employees working in nearly every one of California’s cities, counties, state agencies, schools and special districts. But in California’s wine country, a case is quietly moving forward that argues these pension benefits were enhanced without due process.

The case, George Luke vs Sonoma County, is based on California Government Code Section 7507, which prohibits adoption of retirement benefit plan increases unless the approving agency first (1) retains an enrolled actuary, (2) who prepares an actuarial report, (3) which estimates future annual costs of the increases, and (4) the estimate of future annual costs are made available to the public at a meeting at least two weeks before the agency approves the increases.

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A Pulse for Republican Party in Los Angeles

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Despite a 20-point Democratic registration advantage, Republican John Lee topped Democrat Loraine Lundquist in Los Angeles’ 12th Council District special Election. Returns have Lee in front of Lundquist by about 1300 votes out of around 32,000 cast, or 52% to 48%.

While Republicans show a pulse in L.A., it is not a strong one. Still, the only Republican council seat on the 15-member city council apparently remains in Republican hands. (Some ballots still need be counted.)

Lee’s accomplishment in a city and state that has turned solid blue in the last few decades is something to note.

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Oakland Cannabis Consumers Must Protect Their Health and Safety

Dr. Angelo Williams
Deputy Director of the California Black Health Network.

The City of Oakland should be rightfully proud of its landmark cannabis equity program. The social justice program is intended to help mitigate decades of disproportionate marijuana arrests and incarceration of Black and Brown individuals. It requires that applicants for cannabis business licenses who suffered cannabis-related legal repercussions during the war on drugs receive half of all business licenses issued in the city. It also gives them access to no-interest startup loans subsidized by cannabis tax revenue. Sacramento took similar steps with the CORE Program, which similarly aims to address the aftermath of historical disparities in enforcement. 

Given that African Americans make up only 6% of California’s population, but represent almost a quarter of those incarcerated for marijuana-related offenses, the intent behind the program is solid — even if progress is slow.

Social justice and equity for cannabis entrepreneurs is incredibly important, but the health of cannabis consumers is also critical to our community. As the city moves forward on cannabis licensing, we must make consumer safety for those who use cannabis for medical or recreational purposes a priority. 

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For the sake of the economy, California legislators must fix the flawed California Consumer Privacy Act

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

The Legislature must fix the California Consumer Privacy Act before it takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020. 

The law is riddled with unclear definitions, overly broad mandates, and small errors that will lead to unnecessary costs and widespread confusion about compliance.

When the California Consumer Privacy Act  passed in 2018, we heard many promises that the Legislature would take the time to fix its flaws and address its unintended consequences. That time is growing alarmingly shorter.

When the Legislature returns Monday for its final month of the year, finding reasonable solutions to the problems associated with the California Consumer Privacy Act must be a top priority. 

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New Split Roll Initiative, Same Old Problems

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Supporters of the split roll ballot initiative already qualified for the 2020 ballot to tax commercial property on a different basis than residential property made “adjustments” to the measure’s language. They claim they are strengthening the measure to help it pass. What they are doing is recognizing flaws in the initial version and not changing the thrust of a measure designed to raise taxes, consumer costs and undercut Proposition 13. 

The flaws in the measure are costly for the proponents. 

An initiative to qualify for the ballot, in this case a constitutional amendment, needs signatures that equal a percentage of votes cast for governor in the last election. The previous initiative required 585,407 and cost over $3 million to qualify. Since the number of petition signatures required has increased to 997,113 after the last governor’s race, the proponents will have to spend double or more while the initial investment is down the drain. 

Or is it? 

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Homelessness, But Not Hopelessness: San Francisco Can Fix Its Problem

Kerry Jackson
Kerry Jackson is a senior fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.

President Trump set off quite a tempest when he tweeted that Rep. Elijah Cummings’ Baltimore is a disgusting mess. His next target could be Nancy Pelosi, since he seems perpetually at war with the Baltimore-born House speaker whose city is also being spoiled by urban decay. 

Sheila Burke said she was driving recently in San Francisco when “a woman staggered over to my car, put her hand in the driver’s door, proceeded to pull down her pants and, shall we say, deposited diarrhea that splattered all over my car. She pulled up her pants and went back to the sidewalk as if nothing happened.”

Burke said she immediately reported the incident to the city, which informed her “it would take seven to 12 hours to address the concern.”

“Needless to say, I went to two carwashes before I even opened my door,” Burke said.

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Legislature Must Remove Roadblocks to Voluntary Agreements on Water

Mike Wade
Executive Director, California Farm Water Coalition

San Diego’s historic community swimming pool, “The Plunge,” in Mission Beach, recently reopened following years of disrepair, safety concerns, and maintenance issues. A $5.2 million public-private partnership made the renovation project possible and residents are once again splashing in the water.

But what if, at the last minute, the City of San Diego said the pool would remain empty…no water…despite the private investment that enabled the project?

The California Legislature returned to work on August 12 to consider the fate of Senate Bill 1 (SB1) by San Diego Senator and President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins. The bill, unless amended, may end up imposing conditions on California water users as nonsensical as a restored historic pool with no water to fill it.

 After a decade of scientific study and new collaboration between water users, California stands close to completing historic, Voluntary Agreements (VAs) on water management. These agreements are supported by Governor Gavin Newsom as part of his goal to build a climate resilient water system. SB 1 includes language that acknowledges the Voluntary Agreements but imposes other restrictions that will make them completely useless, like an empty swimming pool. 

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