Feel the Burn: Aloe Vera Added to Prop. 65 List

Tom Scott
CA Executive Director, National Federation of Independent Business

There are two very different types of actors in the realm of making our economy tick. Entrepreneurs wake of every day trying to think of new ways to innovate, to expand, and thus create new jobs. Then there are the regulators in Sacramento who wake up every day thinking of new, creative ways to add burdens and barriers to operating your business in California and beyond. Their latest regulatory red alert: Aloe vera.

You read that correctly: Aloe vera. In December of last year, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) published its intent to list Aloe vera, whole leave extract to the Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer. Despite the widely accepted extensive health benefits of Aloe vera, an unelected regulator in Sacramento can now tell you and all consumers it will cause cancer, even if no cases of cancer from Aloe vera exposure exist.

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Meet the Toughest Mountains in California

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)

Don’t mess with the Tehachapis.

California has taller mountain ranges, more famous mountain ranges, even more beautiful mountain ranges. But no mountains here are tougher—or more important—than the Tehachapis.

A mishmash of mid-sized peaks that extend some 40 miles across southern Kern County and north Los Angeles County, the Tehachapis effectively form the wall that defines our state. This is their paradox: The Tehachapis at once separate and connect California’s regions—north and south, valley and desert, Sierra Nevada and coastal range.

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How Did Eric Linder Win The Left And The Right?

Laurel Rosenhall
Reporter, CALmatters

Several times in the last year, Assemblyman Eric Linder (R-Corona) pushed the green “Yes” button on his desk when most of his Republican colleagues pressed “No.”

He broke from his party to vote for labor-backed bills requiring more disclosure of health care rates, new layoff protections for civil servants and a system for workers to collect unpaid wages from employers.

Those votes, along with his efforts to mediate a labor dispute at a hospital in his Riverside County district, helped Linder earn an unusual distinction last month: he’s the first Republican in more than 20 years to get the endorsement of the Service Employees International Union.

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The Small Business President

Fox and Hounds Daily Editors

The United States Chamber of Commerce has begun a letter writing campaign to the next president of the United States to emphasize good choices for the economy. The project is labeled Dear 45, as in a salutation in a letter to the 45th president. The US Chamber will publish a letter a month up to the election.

This month the US Chamber published a letter by Thomas “Mack” McLarty, former White House Chief of Staff under President Bill Clinton, calling for the next president to be “The Small Business President.”

In his letter, McLarty proposed three initiatives to invigorate small businesses:

“First, reform the tax code. Small companies can’t compete with big corporations that find creative ways to lower taxes. They spend a larger share of resources to comply with the byzantine tax code.

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The Presidential Race: But Seriously…

John J. Pitney, Jr.
Professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and coauthor of American Government and Politics: Deliberation

When George Wallace ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972, his slogan was “Send Them a Message!”   Last night’s winners might as well have used the same catchphrase. The New Hampshire primary was a political Festivus, in which Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders performed feats of strength while the electorate undertook the airing of grievances. Voters wanted to show that they were fed up with the political and economic establishments, and the double-digit margins got the message across quite vividly.

Trump and Sanders have become the voices of discontent by positioning themselves as “outsiders.” In neither case is the mantle a perfect fit. Sanders has held office for 33 of the past 35 years, and has always caucused with congressional Democrats. His avowed socialism scarcely sets him apart in a party that has galloped leftward ever since Bill Clinton let go of the reins in 2001. Trump has direct experience in government. Rather, he bought his seat at the table of power by spreading money liberally among New York politicians. If Trump supporters are right that most political insiders are prostitutes, then Trump has distinguished himself by being a john.

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Hillary’s Tin Ear for Politics

Stu Spencer
Longtime California Political Consultant and Chief Political Strategist for Ronald Reagan

An article by Politico Magazine chief correspondent Glenn Thrush on Monday titled “Clinton Weighs Staff Shakeup” jogged my ancient memory.

As I recall this happened in the 2008 Hillary Clinton campaign.  This year her complaints are that she is dissatisfied with the messaging and digital operations, which are two of the three main components of a campaign, the other being money.  This woman has been running since 2008 for the presidency, more than enough time to find the right political consultant and the right team to develop a campaign plan and how you’re going to message. A message that fits the world today and yes, have a relationship with the staff so that you can massage the message if needed by events.  

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Did Rocky Just Sink Loretta?

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)

Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez’s best chance in the U.S. Senate race – the theory goes – is to grab the second spot in the June first round of the top two contest, and then rally against the frontrunner, Attorney General Kamala Harris, in the November runoff.

This Sanchez path to victory looked viable when there were three Republicans in the race, thus dividing that vote so that even the top GOP finisher would have less votes than Sanchez. But the path doesn’t look nearly so good after one of the three Republicans, Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, quit the race.

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More Truthiness From CalSTRS’s CEO

David Crane
Lecturer and Research Scholar at Stanford University and President of Govern for California

In 2005 Stephen Colbert coined the word “truthiness” to describe “truths we want to exist.” His invention was timely because at that moment I was contending with truthiness as practiced by the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS), to whose board I had been appointed that year. I discovered the organization was understating pension liabilities and overstating expected investment returns, a lethal combination with dangerous consequences for California’s public schools. After I encouraged the board to change those practices, an intense effort by special interests led to my removal. Later, when CalSTRS sought and received a bailout, truthiness reared its ugly head once again when the organization’s CEO was less than forthcoming about the real reasons for its deficit. Most recently, the CEO’s cover letter to CalSTRS’s latest annual report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015 (FY2015) indicates truthiness remains standard operating procedure in his office.

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Parking Up the Wrong Tree

Charles Crumpley
Editor of the Los Angeles Business Journal

You may have heard that Assemblyman Mike Gatto of Los Angeles recently proposed what he called a “Parking Bill of Rights” to bring some relief to long-abused motorists. When I read that, my heart started racing. I was a little unsure of what to do since it’s been more than 200 years since we last dealt with a Bill of Rights, but I was immediately ready to petition the Continental Congress or do whatever you need to do these days to get a bill of rights ratified.

But alas, when I read more about Gatto’s bill, I sunk back a bit. What he wants to do is alright, I suppose. But it just isn’t radical enough.

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Political Power Struggle Over PUC Reforms

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

The California Public Utilities Commission rightly faces questions about its effectiveness and responsibilities, but in the end the issue of reforms will come down to a question of power—the political kind.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s proposed constitutional amendment to replace the authority of the PUC will get the debate started and public sentiment should be on his side. The natural gas disaster at Porter Ranch follows in relative short order the San Bruno gas line explosion and the questionable dealings involving the San Onofre nuclear power plant. All these highly publicized issues have given the PUC a black eye.

The PUC’s stated mission is “protecting consumers and ensuring the provision of safe, reliable utility service and infrastructure….”

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