In Praise of Earthquakes

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)

Here is one big lie Californians tell ourselves: we hate earthquakes. 

The unspoken truth is that we love earthquakes, as well we should.

Don’t give the weather all the credit. Earthquakes are another natural phenomenon that made California great. Earthquakes play as many roles here as our finest Hollywood actors. Quakes inspire us to dream, ground us in reality, shape our culture, and bind us together.

We would be on very shaky ground without them.

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What’s Behind “ConsumerWatchdog” Attacks on Insurance Commissioner Lara? Revenge

Steven Maviglio
Principal of Forza Communications, a Sacramento-based public affairs/campaign firm

California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara has been in the news lately after a San Diego Union Tribune article noted that he had accepted campaign contributors from insurance companies – an unwritten no-no that dates back to the Quackenbush scandals of 2000.

By all accounts, Lara’s acceptance of the contributions was an honest mistake, the result of a fundraising snafu where the donations weren’t tagged as coming from the insurance industry. 

To his credit, Lara acted quickly. He is returning the checks and recusing himself from decisions he had to make on the donor, Those were bold and responsible moves by Lara, a former state senator who has been in office as commissioner for only a few short months.

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Racism, Name-Calling and the 2020 Election. How Will CA Congressional Delegation Respond?

Richard Rubin
Attorney Richard Rubin has taught at the University of San Francisco, Berkeley and Golden Gate University, is a regular columnist for the Marin Independent Journal and was Chair of the California Commonwealth Club Board of Governors, 2017-2019.

With blatantly racist tweets now spouting from the mouth of the President of the United States we have may reached a new low for insensitivity to the vast majority of Americans who find such rhetoric abhorrent. 

At a North Carolina rally just the other day, urged on by the president’s special ire aimed at Minnesota Congresswoman, Ilhan Omar, born in Somali, the crowd began chanting “send her back,” which Trump apparently did little to restrain.

This brought a sharp rebuff even from numerous Republicans including House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy (Bakersfield), who felt compelled to say, “Those chants have no place in our party or in our country.”

The name-calling on both sides (Rep. Omar labelled Trump a “fascist,”)  could be prelude to a presidential campaign that in retrospect might make the bitter Trump-Clinton face-off seem almost polite. 

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In Defense of Houses

Joel Kotkin is Editor of and Presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University. Wendell Cox is Visiting Professor, Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, Paris

A critical component in the rise of market-oriented democracy in the modern era has been the dispersion of property ownership among middle-income households—not just in the United States but also in countries like Holland, Canada, and Australia, where it was closely linked with greater civil and economic freedom. In its early days, this dispersion was largely rural, but after the Second World War, it took on a largely suburban emphasis in the U.S., including within the extended metro regions of traditional cities like New York and Los Angeles. American homeownership soared between 1940 and 1962, from 44 percent to 63 percent.

Today, the aspiration of regular people to own homes—arguably one of the greatest achievements of postwar democracy—is fading. But the dilution of this key aspect of the American dream is not the result of market conditions or changing preferences, but rather the concerted effort of planners and pundits. California offers the most striking example.

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

It’s hard to believe in modern day California multiple stories of rats are making news. From the 15-pound rats in the Delta, to the rats inhabiting downtown Los Angeles—one expert told a Los Angeles news radio station there probably exist in the city the same number of rats as the human population, in other words in the millions–these rodents are getting attention. The rats’ impact could be enough to change government policy on dealing with the homeless. 

With court orders protecting the homeless from forced removal from the streets and criminalizing street living, approaches to either change the law or have a higher court reverse lower court mandates are going forward. 

The Statewide Commission on Homelessness and Supportive Housing is considering asking the state to establish a “right to shelter” law.  Such a law would require local governments to provide shelter space—and provide some state dollars to achieve the goal. 

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Should California Business Leaders Accept a Deteriorating State Business Climate?

David Kersten
David Kersten is president of the Kersten Institute for Governance and Public Policy ( Kersten is also an adjunct professor of public finance and economics at the University of San Francisco.

In recent weeks and months, there has been a back and forth debate in the media and at political events regarding California deteriorating business climate. 

In particular, as discussed in a recent Fox & Hounds Daily column, the liberal-leaning Economist wrote a major story that was highly critical of California’s political economy which concluded that the trend lines indicate that there is little hope on the horizon for things to get any better.    

One prominent USC academic even described the demographic trends of able-bodied Californians fleeing the state as a “slow motion train wreck.”  

President Donald J. Trump routinely characterizes California as a “disgrace” and a “disaster” for the homeless problems in San Francisco, where he owns property, and Los Angeles, where he has visited on several occasions during his Presidency.  

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Another Angry Billionaire

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)

If I were angrier, would I be richer?

The question occurs as Tom Steyer enters the presidential race, running as some sort of avenging angel against American wealth and corruption. He kept saying the word “outsider” in his announcement.

As an outsider myself to the world of billionaire outsiders, I found myself wondering: What on earth is he talking about?

But Steyer is hardly alone. The president of the United States plays a scarier, less competent and way more racist version of the billionaire outsider. And we just read obituaries for another billionaire outsider, Ross Perot.

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Anti-Recidivism Coalition Provides Transformational Criminal Justice Reform

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

The ADDA has long advocated rehabilitation as an alternative to incarceration – so long as that rehabilitation is effective and successful.  

We also believe reducing the prison population is a laudable goal so long as it can be done without endangering public safety. However, the initial focus should be on effective rehabilitation that does not compromise public safety, rather than planning for early releases first and then implementing rehabilitation programs after the fact.

One of the more effective rehabilitation programs is the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC), located in downtown Los Angeles. I recently had the pleasure of meeting with ARC founder Scott Budnick, and members of the ARC team. While Mr. Budnick and I may not always agree on policy, his approach of keeping lines of communication open and listening to all perspectives, including those of law enforcement and crime victims is refreshing and commendable.

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Harris Gains in Poll

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

The Quinnipiac poll this week showed Kamala Harris taking the lead in the presidential contest among California Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters. Her gain in the polls reflects rising support for her candidacy in Southern California. 

In February, Quinnipiac polled California Democratic voters on which Democratic candidate they were most excited about. Joe Biden topped Harris 60% to 58%. In April Quinnipiac asked California Democrats who they favored to lead the party.  Biden lead Harris 26% to 17%.

Now Harris is out front 23% to 21% (although well within the poll’s margin of error at 5.7%) with most observers agreeing her performance in the first Democratic debate boosted her campaign. 

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Is the Miracle of Vaccination Fading?

Henry I. Miller
Physician, molecular biologist, and senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute. He is the co-discoverer of an enzyme that is critical in the replication of influenza virus. He was the founding director of the FDA's Office of Biotechnology.

This year’s debate over Senate Bill 276 (Pan) has generated significant controversy in an area where there should be none – the importance of vaccinating all children from often deadly or debilitating communicable diseases.

This debate comes as infectious diseases that used to claim the lives of one in six children before their fifth year are making an alarming comeback in California and nationwide. The culprits are parents who should know better – and the politicians who accommodate them.

Parents of small children today no longer know the fear of deadly childhood diseases. It wasn’t so long ago that diphtheria, measles, and whooping cough epidemics regularly killed large numbers of children and left others with permanent disabilities. As a child in the 1950s, I was prevented by my parents from going to public swimming pools during the summer because of the threat of polio.

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