Goodbye, St. John

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)

I miss Saint John Chiang.

Sure, the state treasurer is still trying to run as the white hat, against the morally compromised, wife-cheating black hats, Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villaraigosa.

But the act has worn thin.

Chiang pitches himself as the serious candidate, the sober candidate, the one who doesn’t screw around, who can be trusted. But his campaign has proven to be the most relentlessly and personally negative of the reality-based contenders (The reality-based caveat allows me to exclude Travis Allen from this discussion).

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Election Day Implications

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

The 2018 primaries are upon us, and they could either be momentous or just of passing note.

California voters may hold the keys.

The marque race in California pits four Democrats against two Republicans who may be heavily over-matched if the usual blue-state predictions are correct.

Lt. Governor, Gavin Newsom appears to be surging at the right moment and is looking more like a shoo-in for the #1 spot. The real battle is over who will claim second place winning the right to square off against him in November.

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A Class Act Leaves the Stage

Timothy L. Coyle
Consultant specializing in housing issues

Not everyone knows Eileen Reynolds.  But, among real estate lobbyists she’s iconic, a giant.  She’s getting ready to retire and she will be sorely missed.

Eileen started out her career reading bills for the REALTORS.  She learned a lot about lawmaking during that time.  But it was her work ethic that got the attention of the higher-ups at the REALTORS and soon she found herself at the state Capitol, portfolio of bad bills in hand, on a mission to defeat them.

It wasn’t long after that time I was hired by the state homebuilders, CBIA, to be their chief lobbyist.  I’d heard about this person Eileen Reynolds – she was a legend even in her formative years – but I’d never had the opportunity to stand alongside her and her wickedly beautiful, ever-present smile to fight for the rights of private individuals to develop their property, something I relished.

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Janus Reality Check

Larry Sand
President of the California Teachers Empowerment Network

With a SCOTUS decision just weeks away, a little perspective is in order.

As one who has closely followed the Janus v AFSCME case, I am amazed at the hyperbolic ranting about it from certain quarters that bombards us on a daily basis. If successful, the suit would allow government workers in 22 states the right to be employed without being forced to pay money to a union. Period.

But various interested parties have gone bonkers over Janus. An American Federation of Teachers press release claims that the case is a “blatantly political and well-funded plot to use the highest court in the land to further rig the economic rules against everyday working people.” (Actually Janus will unrig the rules by replacing the 41 year-old Abood decision and give workers complete freedom of choice.

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The 2018 Primary – First Look at Voter Turnout

Tony Quinn
Editor, California Target Book

What if they gave a revolution and nobody came? That seems to be the case in this first election of the Trump era in California. For all the supposed anti-Trump energy in this state, the voters are showing no sign of rushing to the polls to register their opposition; in fact, this is turning out to be the sleepiest election in California in years.

The only question in the governor’s race is whether Gavin Newsom will succeed in getting an unknown Republican named John Cox as his November opponent instead of another Democrat. If Newsom is successful, and that’s what it looks like right now, his election as governor is assured and he can spend the fall campaigning around the country for a place on the 2020 Democratic ticket.

The US Senate race has been the biggest yawner since the re-election of GOP Sen. William F. Knowland in 1952. The challenge to Sen. Dianne Feinstein from the left has fizzled; and the best known of the Republican candidates against her is a neo-Nazi Holocaust denier named Patrick Little who was thrown out of the recent GOP state convention.

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ZEV Bill Would Hurt Ridesharing Drivers, Do Little to Help Environment

Kerry Jackson
Kerry Jackson is a Fellow at the California Center for Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.

On any given day, tens of thousands of Californians are earning good money driving for Uber, Lyft, and other ridesharing companies. For many, the gig economy has been a windfall. Glassdoor.com says the average annual salary for a Lyft driver in Los Angeles is $36,000, while Uber drivers average about $27,000 and can make up to $44,000.

But never underestimate California policymakers’ ability to increase the cost of doing business in this state. The independent contractors who literally mobilize the ridesharing industry could be required to buy new vehicles in the next five years, even if there’s nothing wrong with the cars they’re driving. The cost will force some out of the business altogether.

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“We’re Number 2!”

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

The top two primary has turned politics in California on its head. You might even hear a cheer you would never hear in any other contest: “We’re Number 2.” By virtue of being number 2 on June 5, a candidate is still alive to face the first place finisher in November.

As the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll yesterday basically reiterated findings from the Los Angeles Times poll earlier in the week, there seems a desperate battle for that second spot in the governor’s race. PPIC had Republican businessman John Cox is second place behind Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom with 19% of likely voters. Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was within striking distance at 15%. Cox was 6-points behind Newsom. In the Times poll, Villaraigosa had a 1-point lead over Cox and trailed Newsom by 10.

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The California Media’s Unceasing (and Unacknowledged) Voter Suppression Campaign

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)

You’ve gotta hand it to California’s media. They may have troubles with their business models.

But they never stop working to suppress the vote.

My journalistic colleagues will probably call such a claim unfair. But what else do you call a persistent effort to misinform the public in a way that discourages people from voting?

The campaign is ongoing, and it’s targeted at the June 5 election, which is already underway since so many of us vote early and/or by mail. The heart of the campaign is a mistake: the media calls the June 5 elections a primary.

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Campaigns Try to Fool California Voters

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Politics – the means by which we govern ourselves – can be a positive, even uplifting human enterprise.

Too often, however, political tactics are based on the cynical assumption that voters can be easily fooled and the current election season is, unfortunately, rife.

Take, for example, the television ads that Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the leading candidate for governor, has been airing about John Cox, a San Diego businessman and the leading Republican.

Superficially, it’s logical that a Democratic candidate for governor would attack a Republican candidate. But these ads, alleging that Cox is closely allied with the National Rifle Association, have another, less obvious motive.

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State Won’t Ride to the Rescue over Local Government Pension Problems

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

At his latest state budget press conference, Gov. Jerry Brown made it clear there will be no state cavalry riding to the rescue of local governments battling the pension monsters local officials created. Therefore, taxpayers will have to be on guard against a potential avalanche of tax measures that could appear to deal with the problem.

“A lot of cities signed up for pensions they can’t afford,” Brown told reporters and said the state wasn’t in position to help. The League of Cities acknowledged the growing pension problem releasing a study in February that declared the pension situation “unsustainable.”

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