Business Strategy on Prop 55

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

Business organizations are beginning to line up against Proposition 55, the income tax extension, but is it a matter of showing the flag or engaging in full force? Long term strategy on business related tax issues is part of business’s calculation.

No question business is opposing the effort to extend for 12 years what was promised by Gov. Jerry Brown to be a temporary tax when initially placed before voters as Prop 30. The California Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business/California have already come out in opposition to Prop 55. Particularly significant is the case of CalChamber since it was neutral during the Prop 30 campaign.

The important question: will members of the business community raise big money to oppose the tax extension?

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Prop 53 Gives Taxpayers Less Say, Not More

Gary Toebben
President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

One of the myths of Proposition 53 – the Cortopassi ballot measure – is that it somehow would give taxpayers more control over the funding of major infrastructure projects.

In truth, Proposition 53 gives local taxpayers and residents less ability to decide what gets built in their communities.

One of the little-known details of Proposition 53 is that it will force statewide votes on some local projects. It specifically requires cities and towns that want to come together with the state and form Joint Power Authorities to issue revenue bonds to put their measure on a statewide ballot.

That means that if residents in Los Angeles decide they want to make bridge safety repairs, then voters from Redding to Bakersfield would have the right to veto that decision.

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Get Back, 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)

Let me start with an admission of error.

I recently chastised Rep. Loretta Sanchez in this space for going to Spain earlier in the summer, instead of campaigning for the U.S. Senate. I argued that she needed to make a real full-time campaign, for her own good.

I was wrong to say that. Sanchez on the campaign trail is actually worse than Sanchez off the trail. She should get back to Europe–or to any place she can find far from California and representatives of any of its media outlets.

The more she talks, the worse she looks.

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The Future of Latino Politics

Joel Kotkin
Editor of and Presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University

The sad decline in race relations has focused, almost exclusively, on the age-old, and sadly growing, chasm between black and white. Yet this divide may prove far less important, particularly in this election, than the direction of the Latino community.

This may be the first election where Latinos, now the nation’s largest minority group, may directly alter the result, courtesy of the race baiting by GOP nominee Donald Trump. If the GOP chooses to follow his nativist pattern, it may be time to write off the Republican Party nationally, much as has already occurred in California.

Today, Latinos represent 17 percent of the nation’s population; by 2050, they will account for roughly one in four Americans. Their voting power, as the GOP is likely to learn, to its regret this year, is also growing steadily, to 12 percent of eligible voters this year, and an estimated 18 percent by 2028.

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A Tale of Two Conventions

Richard Rubin
He writes about political issues and is President of a Public Affairs Management Firm. He also teaches courses on the Presidential & Congressional Elections at the University of San Francisco and is Vice Chair of the California Commonwealth Club.

The decision as to which Party holds the first nominating convention is determined by the current White House occupant?

Advantage Hillary Clinton and the Democrats who have the benefit of knowing what was said and can now polish the rebuttals.

The over-riding theme of the GOP conclave was easy enough to identify. It was attack Hillary and keep attacking.

“Lock her up” was the resounding cry of the delegates who did not come to Cleveland for further affirmation of Trump’s presidential worthiness. The majority are already convinced despite questions that could shake that assumption to its core as the general election campaign begins.

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Hysteria Over Trump Hits California Media

Tony Quinn
Political Analyst

The possibility that Donald Trump might win the presidency has set off high decibels of hysteria among the political establishment, and no more so than in blue California. Despite an historic level of unpopularity in California, it is quite possible Trump could be elected. The media and political establishment are already musing about what it would do if that happened.

Take for instance the California reaction of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s political attack on Trump. “I can’t imagine what this place would be — I can’t imagine what the country would be — with Donald Trump as our president,” she told the New York Times.

This is not some alderman for the 3rd district speaking; this is a Supreme Court justice, one ninth of one third of the government of the United States. Ginsburg’s remarks were so unethical and out of line and she was forced to apologize a few days later.

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Direct Democracy Strategy Questions Raised by Gun Referendums

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

Californian’s embrace of direct democracy continues to entrance those who want to legislate from the outside or to undo legislative actions. As explained in Laurel Rosenhall’s column Friday a bill intended to limit direct democracy has not reduced the number of measures that will appear on November’s ballot. Perhaps this is a result of circumstance—the lower signature count necessary to qualify measures or the decision of the legislature to crowd all initiatives on the General Election ballot.

The tools of direct democracy are available to those who want to set an agenda or to force the legislature into action, or to reverse legislative action. I’m guilty of this myself both in being a proponent of initiatives that changed laws, and in the case of the workers comp initiative that never went before voters, a measure that pushed the legislature into action it probably would not have taken without the persuasive power of a coming, popular proposition.

The power to undo legislative action is a course I never participated in, which brings me to try and understand the strategy to refer to voters the six gun related bills signed by Governor Jerry Brown.

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Collaborative Leadership Needed on Climate Policy

Dorothy Rothrock
President, California Manufacturers & Technology Association

When the Legislature returns in next Monday, our Senators and Assemblymembers should think carefully when considering another climate change bill, namely SB 32. They rejected the bill last year and many organizations continue to oppose the bill this year, for good reason. There has been no meaningful engagement with stakeholders to develop legislation that would address problems with the suite of AB 32 programs that the bill intends to extend and expand for another ten years.

SB 32 is following a completely different process than AB 8, a law passed in 2013. AB 8 authorized funding for clean air and clean vehicle programs such as the Carl Moyer program, which is designed to reduce diesel emissions like particulate matter and has proven clean air results. This is in contrast to how AB 32 funded projects are not required to demonstrate they are achieving their intended results. A bipartisan group of legislators backed AB 8 to improve air quality for all California residents. While the bill did not receive unanimous support, the collaborative process resulted in a two-thirds vote in both houses of the legislature.

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The Pension Monster and How Much It’s Costing You to Keep It Fed

Jack Humphreville
LA Watchdog writer for CityWatch, President of the DWP Advocacy Committee, Ratepayer Advocate for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and Publisher of the Recycler

Why haven’t Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council President Herb Wesson followed up on the recommendation by the LA 2020 Commission to “establish a Commission on Retirement Security to review the City’s retirement obligations in order to promote an accurate understanding of the facts” and make “concrete recommendations on how to achieve equilibrium on retirement costs by 2020?”

Why?  Because these two ambitious politicians fear alienating the campaign funding leaders of the City’s unions who do not want a public discussion of the facts surrounding the City’s ever increasing annual contributions to the City’s two massively underfunded pension plans that are forcing the City to scale back on basic services.

Over the last ten years, the City’s contribution to its two pension plans (Los Angeles City Employees Retirement System and the Los Angeles Fire and Police Pension System) has tripled to $1.1 billion, up from $350 million in 2005.  As a result, pension contributions now chew up 20% of the City’s $5.6 billion budget, up from less than 10% in 2005. 

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Unconventional Wisdom after Cleveland

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

*   While the Republicans have been doing their best to paint the darkest possible picture of Hillary Clinton, the back-to-back party conventions give the Democrats an edge, as they can have the last word—if anybody is still listening. Counterpunching can be an extremely effective political tactic.

*   The red-meat prosecutors Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie lit up the hall with their denunciation of Hillary Clinton; but how will their tough rhetoric play with those who aren’t already Hillary haters? Or has the Trump campaign purposely adopted the Bush 2004 strategy of revving up the party’s conservative base to bump up GOP turn-out; that year 11 states placed anti-same-sex marriage on their ballots and 9 of them went for Bush—including Ohio (Of course, the demographic make-up of the electorate has changed significantly since 2004.)

*   For all the talk of Benghazi and those e-mails, the Trump campaign hasn’t paid much attention to those high paid Wall Street speeches, on which Hillary Clinton may be most vulnerable to attack. Their impact, as examples of a real economic disconnect, could resonate more directly with the broader electorate. Using valuable time and resources to re-litigate Bill Clinton’s sex life won’t move many uncommitted voters either.

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