Forget 3 States, How About a Much LARGER California

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

The California Supreme Court pushed the three states initiative off the November ballot probably on its way to being shoved out the door permanently once the court examines the proposal more closely. With attention focused on the three states initiative recently, we have heard about the approximate 200 efforts over the years to cut California into smaller pieces. But there is a lesser-known history dealing with the size of California. At the beginning of the state’s founding, during the constitutional convention of 1849, there was an effort to make California much larger than it is today.

One of the more lively debates at California’s first constitutional convention in Monterey centered on California’s boundaries. A proposal substituted for a plan put forth by the boundary committee would extend California eastward to include the New Mexico territory and the Great Salt Lake and lands east to the Rocky Mountains. For a time, it gained majority support at the convention and won a vote to substitute for the original boundary plan.

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The Gas Tax Is a Strange Cross for Our Democracy to Die On

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)

Repeal the gas tax. Or keep it.

Either way, I don’t care. Nor should Californians who have any sense of math.

It’s bizarre to watch the gas tax emerge as the number one issue in a state with real challenges in housing, economy, education and health care.

Because the gas tax is a small tax increase that does very little. Almost everything said by both sides of the debate is an exaggeration.

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Teacher Unions Reap What They Sow With Unsustainable Pensions

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

The unions that represent California teachers have demanded, and received, platinum retirements for their members. But the good days at someone else’s expense cannot last forever. California teachers are beginning to feel the pain that they inflicted on themselves.

“Schools are laying off employees and slashing programs,” the Wall Street Journal reported in late June, while “some districts complain they are having trouble retaining teachers.”

Or as the headline says, “California is losing teachers and laying off secretaries.”

Allysia Finley, a member of the Journal’s editorial board, noted that California “schools last year issued thousands of pink slips” and “hundreds more have gone out this year.” But teachers aren’t the only employees losing their jobs. Many systems “are laying off secretaries and support staff to pay for teacher raises and pension benefits that have been collectively bargained.”

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After Years of Tuition Battles, UC and Student Leaders Find Common Ground

Felicia Mello
CALmatters Higher Education Reporter

The tuition decrease University of California regents approved this week amounts to only $60 per year—about the cost of a single used textbook.

But what may be more significant about the cost rollback at California’s top public university is the way student leaders found out: on a conference call with university budget staff.

“They got on the line and were like, ‘We think we can roll back tuition and here’s why,’ ” said Caroline Siegel Singh, vice president of external affairs for UC San Diego’s student association.

The call was part of an increasingly collaborative relationship between UC officials and elected student leadership since the two groups lobbied arm in arm this spring for more funding for cash-strapped campuses.

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In Taking Cal-3 Off Ballot, California Supreme Court Gives It New 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)

The California Supreme Court just gave Tim Draper a gift.

The court removed Draper’s Cal-3 initiative, to split California into three states, from the November ballot. And in so doing, they probably gave the initiative some life.

Before the court’s ruling, Cal-3 was a national joke – a poorly drafted concept that was going to lose very badly in November, and disappear into the dustbin of history. The people would have rejected the idea, and that was the end of it.

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LA County Stormwater Tax

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

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to place on the November ballot a tax measure to fund a stormwater runoff system in an effort to save and clean water. The tax applies to both business and residential properties but government buildings, public schools and non-profit organizations are exempt. That’s standard procedure but you have to wonder if the push for taxes—any taxes– would be the same if every organization would have to dedicate a portion of its budget for taxes.

The theory for the exemption is that the services provided by the tax-exempt organizations would be reduced if money would go for taxes. In the case of public entities the money would come from the taxpayers anyway. That is not true for non-profits.

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The Governor’s Supreme Executive Authority

Timothy Perry
Timothy Perry is a lawyer in private practice and a founder of the Los Angeles Lawyer Chapter of the American Constitution Society.

In his campaign to replace Attorney General Xavier Becerra as California’s next Attorney General, Republican Steven Bailey has promised to roll back California’s sanctuary state policy, as well as to halt lawsuits against the Trump administration. But in doing so, Bailey incorrectly assumes that the Attorney General can make such decisions independent of the Governor. In fact, history shows that the Attorney General’s judgment is subordinate to the Governor’s—and indeed, that the Governor’s constitutional authority is far greater than commonly appreciated.

Like most states, California has a “plural” executive branch, featuring seven separately elected executive officers, from the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, to Treasurer and Controller. Although these officers are separately elected, the Governor’s authority is “supreme” over all others. And this supremacy has grown stronger through 40 years of conflicts between the Governor and his fellow statewide officers.

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California Needs Criminal Justice Reforms to Fight Crime

Michele Hanisee
President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys

The “Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act of 2018″ will appear on the 2020 ballot, as the failure of some Registrars to timely validate signatures prevented it from qualifying from the 2018 ballot. The initiative will make commonsense changes to fix problems caused by AB 109, Prop 47 and Prop 57.

While some supporters of changes to the California criminal justice system acknowledge that those changes have been “plagued by a lack of vetting and thorough debate” a very vocal minority, including Governor Jerry Brown, adamantly refuse to acknowledge any faults. Brown vetoes such changes. In other instances, the Legislature simply refuses to consider any changes.

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By Using The Wrong Comparisons, California Hides Big Collapse In Turnout

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)

The June election is finally over. But the misinformation about it goes on.

The latest problem involves headlines and reports that June turnout was a tick up from June elections 2014 and above turnout in June elections in 2010. By using these comparisons, election officials and media folks were able to tout progress in turnout and participation.

Unfortunately, there is no real progress. To the contrary, turnout is actually down. Because the points of comparison are the wrong ones.

People often have asked me why it matters so much that California still calls its June elections “primaries’ even though they aren’t. What’s the big deal? Well, the big deal is that when you don’t call things by their correct names, you make category errors—and fail to understand what is happening with your democracy. For example, you could celebrate an uptick in turnout that really shows a broader decline.

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Ambitious Democrats to Blame for Newman Downfall

Duane Dichiara, Kevin Spillane, and Moises Merino
Duane Dichiara (Axiom), Kevin Spillane (Spillane Consulting) and Moises Merino (MBA Inc.) each have decades of experience managing political campaigns. As general strategists they have advised national, statewide, congressional, legislative, big city, and initiative campaigns throughout the country.

As the California State Legislature enters the final two months of the legislative session, there are a lot of lessons California Democrats can learn from the recent recall of California State Senator Josh Newman.

There is no question that California State Senator Josh Newman was angry about getting recalled this past June, but if he wants to find the true culprit he should focus his attention not on Republicans, but instead on the people who misled him for their political gain.

Newman said in a bitter floor speech that blamed Republicans for his loss that he was surprised by how lopsided the vote to recall him was. But he shouldn’t have been – anyone paying attention would have known how out of touch he was for the district he represented.

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