A Pandora’s Box: Suing Oil Companies, Consumers Pay

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

Some members of the Los Angeles city council hope to join San Francisco, Oakland and New York City is suing oil companies on the principle that the costs associated with climate change (as a result of using fossil fuels) are a burden to the city and its taxpayers. If successful this precedent would open a Pandora’s box of problems for companies and the government itself, not to mention rather than relieving taxpayers of costs it would add to their financial burdens.

One of the movers behind this plan is city councilman Mike Bonin, who pushed for a “road diet” plan in his district reducing driving lanes to ostensibly reduce traffic accidents and deaths. At the same time, the plan clogged roadways, frustrated drivers, and lead to a recall effort against the councilman. One argument levied against Bonin was that the idling cars in the line of traffic added to pollutant build-up. Under Bonin’s proposal of attacking climate change through lawsuits is not he and those who created the road diet plan susceptible to a lawsuit? You get the point where this could lead.

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A DACA solution demands a true bipartisan compromise which includes E-Verify

John Mirisch
Beverly Hills City Council Member and two-time former mayor

Now is the time for policy, not politics.

Now is the time to get beyond the immigration word games like calling those “anti-immigrant” who in reality are simply opposed to illegal immigration, or calling those a “restrictionist” who don’t necessarily want to restrict immigration beyond the current level, but who really just want to control it.

Now is the time to get beyond the ill-advised and stupid verbiage of the President and the opportunistic grandstanding of Senators Booker and Harris.

Now is the time to stop using immigration word games to try to re-define the center for political gain.

Here are the extremes: on the one side we have open-borders advocates who feel that everybody should be let in to our country; and on the other side we have absolute restrictionists who feel that nobody should be let in. Those are the extremist positions.  And here I am, stuck in the middle with you.

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California: Role Model or Permanent Outlier?

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

 

California will enter the New Year as it has entered almost every other one before it—a trend-setter for the nation with goofy notions, and a suspicious outlier to those regions which will never catch up.

It is the cranky uncle who takes comfort in watching others squirm and finds nothing wrong with creative disruption in an increasingly disorderly world.

In a nation divided, California prides itself in what divides us.

While a tradition of social liberalism along with flinty-eyed pragmatism has marked much of California’s history, the great economic weight it carries in the nation and beyond gives the distinctions with its sister states a larger-than-life quality.

This casts a glaring spotlight on the reforms pouring out of our legislature year after year which draw admiration from many and open scorn from equal numbers.

As Californians, we take all this in stride and show little interest in changing our habits.

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California the Broken

Joe Armendariz
Former Carpinteria City Councilman and executive director of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association

I won’t bore readers with the tedious statistics that I have been talking and writing about for years, including but not limited to the fact that as recently as 2014, the oil industry generated nearly $20 million in annual property taxes to Santa Barbara county. Those revenues were used to help fund essential services including law enforcement, public safety, roads, parks, with the lion share going to K-12 public schools in the county. Unfortunately, property taxes from oil production are down significantly due to Santa Barbara County, the State of California, and the federal government’s lackadaisical approach to doing what is needed to fast-track the re-permitting of the Plains All American pipeline.

Santa Barbara County is losing millions of dollars due to the pipeline sitting dormant in the ground, meanwhile the county CEO’s budget forecast shows a $50 million deficit right over the horizon. Coincidence? Well, for what it’s worth, there’s no word for coincidence in the Hebrew language. 

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Economic Boost from Tax Cuts

Congressman Kevin McCarthy
Majority Leader, United States Congress

Everyday we turn on the news and what do we find? More employees are getting bonuses–more than two million so far.

There’s something more that is happening…. Utilities like Baltimore Gas and Electric are lowering their rates and passing on tax benefits to all their customers.

And what did we find last week? Not only were bonuses going out but also raises. So people were getting more–the minimum wage was being raised. And with so many companies, maternity leave is now longer for thousands of Americans.

That’s much different than a crumb or Armageddon. That is the beginning of America’s comeback. I know we have challenges before us this week. Funding for the military is at a deadline, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Two times we have voted to move that off this floor. But both times the Democrats have not only said no, they whipped their members to hold them back…. This is not a time to play politics. 

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A Viable Republican Should Run Against Sen. Feinstein

Tony Quinn
Editor, California Target Book

Three Republicans are now running for governor, hoping one can slip into second place in the primary and make the fall runoff.  But that is unlikely given the four well funded Democrats in the race.  It is the Senate contest, completely overlooked so far, where there is an opening for a Republican.  That’s because incumbent Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein is showing remarkable weakness in early polling.

“New Senate poll raises questions about Dianne Feinstein’s re-election bid,” the San Jose Mercury News reported in December.  The poll, by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, found Feinstein leading her one serious opponent, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin DeLeon, by a margin of 41 to 27 percent.  Feinstein “shows weakness and vulnerability, much more so than in any of her past re-election campaigns,” said Mark DiCamillo, head of the IGS poll.

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Audit the High Speed Rail

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

With the revelation yesterday that the high-speed rail budget for the Central Valley segment jumped a whopping $2.8 billion there are no more excuses to prevent an independent audit of the rail project.

The cost for the Central Valley leg of the undertaking has jumped more than 75% from an original estimate of $6 billion to the newly revealed $10.6 billion. When voters approved state bonds to help build the venture, the total bond amount was actually under this new cost figure, less than $10 billion.

At the time of the bond vote in 2008, voters were told the entire bullet train project designed to run from San Francisco to Los Angeles was around $40 billion. That figure soon zoomed to almost $100 billion then settled back to around $64 billion.

What is the total cost to taxpayers now and how is the money being spent? An audit will tell us.

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Democrats Ring in the New Year with More Taxes and Regulations

Jessica Patterson
Jessica Patterson is CEO of California Trailblazers, a program to recruit, train and help elect the next generation of Republican leaders. Previously, Patterson served as the statewide Field Director for Meg Whitman for Governor, California Victory Director in 2010 and 2012 with the California Republican Party, as well as Nevada Victory Director at the Republican National Committee.

Elections have consequences, and millions of hardworking Californians felt those consequences when they started 2018 with higher taxes and more regulations.

As soon as the Democrats squeaked by with legislative supermajorities in 2016, they raced to enact countless laws and regulations. Here are a few ways the Democrat majority forced through legislation that harms California families and makes our state even less affordable.

The marquee example of one-party rule is the gas tax. Even the most liberal Democrats recognized that their gas tax was so toxic, they needed to fill the legislation with millions in taxpayer-funded pork barrel projects to garner the votes needed to pass it. Now fully in effect, not only does the gas tax hurt at the pump, vehicle license fees increased too.

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Redevelopment Reprise?

Timothy L. Coyle
Consultant specializing in housing issues

In 2012, the Legislature and the Governor ended redevelopment.  Citing concerns that local redevelopment agencies (RDAs) were earning too much money, that project areas were continuing to bound across the lines of “blighted, urban areas” – and because of the impact RDAs were allegedly having on the state’s general fund – redevelopment was done.

Despite its demonstrated contribution to increasing California’s housing supply, Governor Brown pushed the Legislature to eliminate more than 400 city and county redevelopment agencies across the state.  Those RDAs were initially created to improve blighted urban neighborhoods.  In the mid-70’s, a deal was struck with local communities that in exchange for redevelopment’s property-tax benefit they had to use a portion of their proceeds to build affordable housing – setting aside 20% of the revenues.  RDAs, however, rarely met their end of the bargain and soon the unused housing account swelled to $1 billion per year. 

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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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