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DiFi on Iran Deal, the Drought, and Running a City

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

Anyone wonder if U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein has the same feeling expressed by Gov. Jerry Brown about a presidential run–if she were a decade or so younger would she consider running for president? I pondered this when in introducing Feinstein to a joint session of the World Affairs Council and Town Hall Los Angeles Wednesday night, billionaire Eli Broad listed many firsts Feinstein accomplished in her long political career and then suggested she should be the first woman president.

The oldest serving United States Senator waved off the suggestion.

Feinstein spent time discussing her support for the Iran deal on nuclear power forged by the Obama Administration. She argued that there was no better deal to be had, that it was this deal or nothing. If no deal were confirmed, the senator suggested, in as little as three months there would likely be a military conflict.

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SB 406: Job Killer Threatens Us With More Litigation and Costs for Small Business

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

A workplace is most successful when an employer will want to do what it takes to keep a worker happy and productive. This includes accommodating his or her “work-life balance,” within the constraints of operating the business.

But as usual, California has gone a different direction.

Workers here enjoy the most generous mandatory leave policies of anywhere in the nation.  The leave programs currently available include:

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Will New Higher Initiative Fee Mean More Initiative Errors?

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’ll write more here in the weeks to come about Gov. Brown’s bad decision to sign a bill raising the ballot initiative filing fee from $200 to $2,000—by far the highest in the country. But before the ink is still dry, let me raise one very practical issue that should be dealt with quickly by those who supported this bill.

Raising the filing fee could lead to more errors and problems with initiatives.

Why? Here’s the potential problem. Raising the fee to file an initiative creates an incentive not to file. And maybe that’s a fine incentive if you’re filing an initiative that grossly violates human rights. But such filings are, thank goodness, the exception, not the rule.

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Comparisons of 1968 and 2016 in Presidential Politics

Richard Eber
Political columnist for the blog Contra Costa Bee

It makes me laugh to hear commentators on the cable news outlets marvel about how the campaign to elect the successor to Barak Obama in 2016 is a unique event the likes of which has never been seen before. Hillary, The Donald, Jeb, Bernie, Carly, Joe, Dr. Carson, Marco, and the rest of the gang are depicted to be transcendent figures unknown to American politics.

This is clearly not the case.  All we must do is travel back in a time capsule to 1968 when Lyndon Johnson was finishing his first and last elective term in office.  At that time LBJ was bogged down with fighting an unpopular war In Vietnam, where the mighty USA was being humiliated in an engagement that could never be won.

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Prop 39 Money is Being Invested Wisely

Andrew McAllister
Commissioner, California Energy Commission

Regarding Joe Mathews’s post, “The Easy Fix for Prop 39”:

Taxpayers expect government to invest wisely and that is exactly what is happening with Proposition 39 funding. Energy Efficiency projects will provide benefits to schools for decades to come, the sort of projects that demand careful planning and don’t get done overnight.

As of today, nearly 100 projects have been completed at 38 schools. Students returning to Costa Mesa High School in Orange County will see solar panels installed over the athletic center parking lot and the outdoor lunch seating area. Parents dropping kids off at Helen Wilcox Elementary school in Oroville will find all 35 classrooms glowing with new LED lighting – upgrades that will save the school $15,000 annually in energy costs. Administrators at Big Creek School in eastern Fresno County noticed a significant decrease in their utility bills after they replaced 100-year-old lighting systems. 

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Governor and Democrats Intent on Raising Taxes

Senator Mike Morrell
California State Senate, 23rd District

Majority Democrats have made it increasingly obvious that they are intent on raising taxes on hardworking Californians. In the clearest sign yet, the Governor released a draft transportation funding plan on Thursday, which includes a $65 fee on vehicle owners, an 11-cent increase in the diesel tax, and a 6-cent increase in the gas tax. This comes on top of the estimated 10-cent increase in the gas tax that kicked in earlier this year due to cap and trade.

The Governor and legislative Democrats are spending more than ever before, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at our roads. California drivers pay one of the highest gas taxes in the nation, yet our infrastructure ranks near the bottom. The state has money to improve our highways without asking taxpayers for more. As Republicans, we continue to stand with families to say enough is enough and oppose new taxes.

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What’s in a Name?

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

President Barack Obama stirred up a minor controversy authorizing a name change for Alaska’s Mt. McKinley back to an older name, Denali.

California has had debates over place names. In the last decade, there was an effort to change the name of Mount Diablo in Contra Costa County that kicked up a fuss locally but ultimately went nowhere.

But in the political world, attempting to change the label on a well-understood government act may well be an effort at subterfuge.

Take the so-called Lifting Children and Families out of Poverty initiative filed this summer. Its funding mechanism is a surcharge on property valued on the property tax rolls at $3 million or more. It is supposed to raise $7 billion in new revenue.

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California Here He Comes

Sherry Bebitch Jeffe & Doug Jeffe
Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, Professor of the Practice of Public Policy Communication, Sol Price School of Public Policy and Doug Jeffe, Communications and Public Affairs Strategist

Let’s stipulate that the GOP’s Trump boom may fizzle long before California’s June 2016 Presidential primary rolls around —remember Michele Bachmann and the pizza man?  But The Donald has the resources, the bravado and the profile, potentially, to stay in the race through the Primary season.   And the state’s GOP presidential Primary might even matter—for the first time in a very long while.

Nationally, the Republicans have become the party of alienation. A huge chunk of the GOP’s rank-and-file voters appears to loathe President Obama, but they are not crazy about anybody or anything in Washington either.  Donald Trump has tapped into that sour mood.  No other candidate has yet been able to jump out of the GOP presidential pack, which now outnumbers the entire roster of an NBA team. Conventional wisdom is that Trump’s act will lose steam and that one or more “plausible” candidates will emerge from Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.  However, this election cycle is far from conventional.  Certainly, it may take more than the early-state GOP caucuses and primaries to winnow the field. Trump could easily emerge from the early going as the top vote and delegate getter, leaving the other candidates to jockey for position over a longer haul.  That means that later primaries and caucuses may take on real importance, and the GOP race could actually play out until the June 7, 2016 California Primary.

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Send California Your Anchor Babies

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 better anchor me, baby.

Because I find it impossible to write with restraint when politicians start using babies – babies using babies! – to prey on prejudice and misinform the public in the service of winning votes.

That’s exactly what’s happening in the Republican presidential contest, as Donald Trump and his opponents make xenophobic nonsense about “anchor babies” the number one issue in the race. I won’t rehash here all the ways that people who actually know something about immigration have debunked this fantastical idea that hordes of pregnant immigrants are coming here to have babies (permit me just one statistic: 91 percent of undocumented immigrant parents had been in this country at least two years when they gave birth). Let’s just stipulate that race-baiting bunk is a staple America’s shameless presidential politics, and nothing I write will change that.

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Teachers Unions and Media Try to Make Hay of Teacher Shortage Myth

Larry Sand
President of the California Teachers Empowerment Network

For years, teachers unions have been moaning that nearly half of all new educators leave the profession within the first five years. They and others have repeated the claim so many times that it has taken on the mantle of truth. But like so much else the unions say, fact checking reveals something quite different. Veteran teacher union watchdog Mike Antonucci has been doing his best to destroy the “revolving door of teachers” fairytale for years. And now we have a report released in April from the National Center of Education which finds that only 17 percent of new teachers had left the profession between 2008 and 2012. While this new data may put a crimp in the teachers unions’ argument, they are sure to keep complaining about that 17 percent, and cite as reasons: poor pay, a good economy, the Koch Brothers, a bad economy, ALEC, too much testing, too little respect, corporate ed reform, etc. But as Antonucci points out, teachers typically leave their jobs for pretty much the same reasons as everyone else – spouse relocating, giving birth, poor health, etc.

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