Court Gets Advice on Pensions

Joel Fox

Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Finley Peter Dunne, a humorist and newspaper columnist at the turn of the 20th Century famously said in making decisions, “The Supreme Court follows election returns.” The question for California is will the state Supreme Court heed the governor’s advice?

Jerry Brown certainly gave the court advice on how to deal with upcoming public pension cases.

At his recent budget press conference, Brown asserted that there was more flexibility than previously imagined in the so-called “California Rule.” The rule is actually a Supreme Court decision from 1955, which declared that if a benefit to a public employee is reduced it must be made up in another way.

The state Supreme Court will get a chance to explain the parameters of the California Rule when a number of cases scrambling the exact meaning of the rule come before the high court.

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Trends Emerge at USC Gubernatorial Debate

Matt Klink

President, Klink Campaigns

Six candidates – four Democrats and two Republicans – squared off on Saturday at the University of Southern California in the first of what will be many debates to help Californians decide who should (and should not) be our state’s next governor.

No knock-out punch was delivered…it would have been shocking if anyone even drew blood. With six candidates on stage and rapid-fire one-minute answers, no candidate was looking for anything other than to work-up a good sweat in what promises to be a multi-million-dollar 2018 campaign battle.

Here are four trends that emerged on Saturday.

First, the Democrats had an inherent advantage in an overly friendly (and left-leaning) audience. Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom was the most polished but drew the most attacks from his five competitors. Newsom commanded facts and figures, and adeptly squeezed specifics into one-minute responses.

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Fire & Mud:Regrettably, it’s not over

Andy Caldwell

COLAB Executive Director, guest editorialist, and radio talk show host

Last week, I along with many others warned our community that the collective sigh of relief from the Thomas Fire having been extinguished was premature and transitory, this having to do with the dreadful dangers presented by significant rain events coming our way. And, as it turns out, the hundreds of homes and numerous lives that were spared during the Thomas Fire, and this last flood event, may have only been spared temporarily.

I was shocked that so few people (15 percent?) who were ordered to evacuate did so. The majority of residents, apparently suffering from evacuation fatigue, ignored the warning that the approaching storm would have an impact 10 times stronger than normal due to the burn scar of the Thomas Fire.

I bear witness now that when another big storm comes our way, including those associated with the so-called Pineapple Express/Atmospheric River, we can expect similar devastation as occurred this past Tuesday. In other words, this isn’t over.

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A California Giant Hides In Plain Sight

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)

California is so big that you need not be a mouse to hide here. You can be a giant elephant, and still escape notice.

Californians have little sense of some of the largest and richest institutions in our state. For example, here’s a straightforward trivia question that, I’ve found, stumps even Californians who know the state quite well: What is the second-richest company in California after Apple?

“Facebook?” Nope. “Google?” Wrong.

The answer is: McKesson.

Never heard of it? You’re not alone (though you probably don’t work in healthcare).

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In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day…

Fox and Hounds Daily Editors


In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Fox and Hounds will not publish today. We will resume tomorrow, Tuesday, January 16, 2018.

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Don’t Blame Ose, Blame Top Two

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)

Doug Ose has jumped in the race for governor. And already, he’s getting blamed for ruining the chances of a Republican candidate advancing to November’s second round of the 2018 gubernatorial election.

That blame is because of the math of the top two system.

Before Ose joined the race, there were only two candidates who were considered anywhere close to major contenders – John Cox and Travis Allen – running. That’s less than ideal. The best thing for Republicans would be to have one candidate who didn’t split the Republican voters, thereby giving the party the best chance of advancing one candidate to the second round.

But with two, the GOP at least had a chance. There are four Democratic candidates that are being covered as contenders, so if they divide the vote, either Cox or Allen might be able to sneak in.

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San Francisco Features a Mayoral Race that Could turn into a Brawl

Richard Rubin

Attorney Richard Rubin has taught public policy at USF, UC Berkeley and other institutions and is Chair of the California Commonwealth Club Board of Governors

San Francisco politics—a mix of the very good and the very ugly— are usually a bell weather for only one city—San Francisco.

There is no plain “bad.” This is a city of extremes.

If Trump ever gets his great wall, it will bear no comparison to the two great bridges in the City by the Bay.

Oher cities experience racial riots that get out of control. San Francisco welcomes vocal protestors at its public meetings.

Marathons featuring racers with exotic clothing or no clothes at all is standard fare.

And Mayoral successions with the exception of the dark interlude following the assassination of Mayor George Moscone decades ago are even by this city’s permissive standards rather sedate affairs even when radical changes are happening.

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Cannabis Industry should heed lessons from the other California “Green Rush”

George Passantino

Managing Partner, Passantino Andersen Communications

Beginning in the mid 2000s, California experienced a massive influx of solar energy projects—ushering in its first “Green Rush.”  Fueled by generous tax credits, President Obama’s green jobs initiative and sweeping climate change legislation, solar companies saw an “open for business” sign on California’s door. While many solar companies found success, others misread the welcome message and ran into a buzz saw of local political opposition. Cannabis industry professionals should heed these lessons, because it mirrors the way their second Green Rush may play out.

While there is undeniable political support for cannabis consumption broadly, as expressed by the passage of Proposition 64, this doesn’t necessarily translate into local support—particularly for an industrial-scale cultivation facility or neighborhood dispensary. Even the presence of an accommodating local ordinance should not be confused with local political support for a project. Whether you like it or not, the opposition is out there.  And as the exploits of the renewable energy sector illustrate, rarely are opponents afraid to fight a project. The thought that often occupies their mind is seeing your project go down in flames.

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Is there a niche for sensible politics in California & America?

Joel Kotkin

Editor of and Presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University

Given the current state of American politics, and those of our state of California, our founding fathers might well consider not just turning over in their graves but boring deeper towards the earth’s core. Yet amidst the almost unceasing signs of discord and hyperbolic confrontation, there exists a more sensible approach which could help rescue our wobbling Republic.

Centrism has long been the subject of well-meaning advocacy but has lacked a class or geographic focus. It most defines the politics of the suburban middle. Much of the urban core — where Clinton and other Democrats often win as many as 80 to 90 percent of the vote — is now about as deep blue as the Soviet Union was red. For its part, the countryside has emerged so much as the bastion of Trumpism that MSNBC’s Joy Reid labels rural voters, “the core threat to our democracy.”

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Proposition 13 on his Mind

Joel Fox

Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

By my count, Governor Jerry Brown mentioned Proposition 13, the nearly 40-year old property tax reform, three times during his press conference presenting a new state budget. Brown’s discussion of Prop 13 came in the context of the fiscal world California lives in because of the mandates of that tax measure.

But when Brown was asked if he would tackle changes to Proposition 13 by commenting on a spit roll property tax proposal or other measures that deal with Prop 13, he said, “The fact is there is more property tax collected than ever.”

A fact often ignored by those who want to amend Proposition 13 is that California governments are flush with cash despite Proposition 13’s tax limitations. In fact, property taxes alone have increased 1000% since 1978 according to the Legislative Analyst.

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