Can Good Government and First Amendment Groups Win Back the Public Trust?

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)

It’s clear, with the charges against noted campaign finance advocate Leland Yee, that good government and campaign finance reform groups that gave him awards have lost the public’s trust. I call upon them need to take steps to win it back.

It’s also clear that, given Yee’s strong support among First Amendment advocates, press freedom groups that gave him awards also need to restore the public’s trust in them. I call upon those First Amendments to adopt a program to win that trust back.

And what should we say about gun control advocates, who are clearly sullied by Yee’s support for gun control? Any abuse of trust by a gun control advocate is, of course, a violation of the public trust by all such advocates. I call upon them to take steps to win back the public’s trust.

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Local and State Politics Will Spark LA’s New Newspaper

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

Increasing the voices of political diversity is one of the missions of California’s newest newspaper, the Los Angeles Register. Did I just write that a new newspaper is opening in this digital age? The owners of Freedom Communications, publishers of the Orange County Register and other newspapers, launched their swim against the tide Wednesday when the first edition of the Los Angeles Register hit the streets.

Owners of the paper were direct in expressing their model for success: report on local communities and offer diverse voices – especially a different take on the world from the neighborhood behemoth, Los Angeles Times.

Freedom Communications co-owners Eric Spitz and Aaron Kushner wrote in a front page column, “The Register brand has stood for free markets and individual liberties since 1906, and we will carry this tradition forward.”

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Leon Panetta’s Recipe For Good Governance Is To Remember Who You Work For

Ed Coghlan
Contributing Editor & Special Correspondent, California Forward

Three months into 2014 and three California State Senators have had brushes with the law. Needless to say, public confidence in elected officials is shaken.

It’s understandable, but like any setback in life, it’s also an opportunity to reflect and change for the better.

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Boeing Provides a Spark to the Economy

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

A job is like a fire, providing energy, light, heat and sustenance to the life of the person who holds the flame. It illuminates the vision ahead to see a brighter future of caring for oneself and our families. Last week, the Los Angeles region received the promise of many more lights with The Boeing Co.’s announcement that it would soon be moving 1,000 high paying skilled engineering jobs to our communities.

“The Company’s announcement … indicates that much of the work on next-generation aircraft will transition from Washington state to California by the end of 2015,” stated the Los Angeles Times. This could be the start of reversing the trend we have seen over the last 20-plus years in the aerospace industry in California.

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Governor Brown Unveils His Rainy Day Reserve – A Reform That Fits The Times

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

Governor Brown was in office when the first state spending limit was passed in 1979. Yesterday he proposed a measure that might actually work as advertised.

We’ve learned a lot about state budgets, revenues and unintended consequences during the past 35 years. Governor’s Brown’s rainy day reserve nods to that experience, and brings forth a proposal more focused yet more achievable than past efforts.

Reformers have been at this a long time.

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Prop 13 Poll Question Not About Split Roll

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

Advocates for a split roll property tax probably hailed the results of the Field Poll question about business property changing ownership. Trouble is, the question wasn’t about a split roll property tax in which all business property would be taxed differently from residential property. The question was about certain commercial property transfers of ownership.

Here is the question asked by Field: Because of complexities in the way businesses and commercial properties are sold, they, unlike residential properties, are not always reassessed when ownership is transferred. Do you favor or oppose changing Prop. 13 to insure that when business and commercial properties are sold or transferred, their property taxes are reset and based on their current assessed value?

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The Governor Should Move to the Delta

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)

When you’re faced with two different thorny problems, sometimes the best way to make progress is by combining them. I’m talking to you, Jerry Brown.

Your first problem involves water. Residents of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta—California’s most vital estuary and source of water—fiercely oppose Brown’s plan to build tunnels that will divert water from north of the Delta to provide more reliable supplies to San Joaquin Valley farmers and Southern California. Their opposition is based on fear. In the short term, they fear construction of the tunnels will disrupt their lives. In the long term, they fear that the tunnels, by allowing other parts of the state to bypass the Delta, will lead Californians to forget the Delta. A forgotten Delta, they fear, will slowly die under the stresses of climate, habitat loss, and encroaching salt water from the San Francisco Bay.

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San Jose’s Public Safety Pensions – Reduce Now or Slash Later

Ed Ring
Executive Director, California Public Policy Center

“Once people get the facts, they do not support slashing people’s pensions.” - Dave Low, chairman, Californians for Retirement Security (Washington Post, February 25, 2014)

Really?

Making sure “people get the facts” is difficult when most “facts” the public sees are promulgated to the media by pension fund PR departments eager to preserve the torrent of taxpayers money flowing into their favored investment firms, along with PR firms representing taxpayer-funded public sector unions whose primary reason to exist is to increase the wages and benefits of their members.

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Keeping Our Government in the Open

Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen
California Assemblymember, 12th District

On many levels, the advent of the Internet fundamentally transformed our society, giving us access to information literally at our fingertips.

Without question, it offers a lot of good. But it also exposes our personal information in ways that decades ago would have been unimaginable. Little did we know that what we would have to worry about would be our own government spying on us as we surf the net.

Like many Californians, I have been troubled by revelations over the last year of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) activities online. With a recent report now alleging that the NSA posed as Facebook in order to contaminate computers with malware, it is just one more misstep eroding confidence in our government.

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Is the Department of Insurance Hiding the Ball on its Millions in Payments to Consumer Watchdog?

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

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and ConsumerWatchdog.org have a cozy relationship. In addition to receiving questionable no-bid government contracts from the Insurance Department that raised concerns among ethics experts, ConsumerWatchdog.org is the sole recipient of funds under Jones’ tenure of the department’s “intervenor fees,” pocketing $779,822 in fees in 2012 alone. In 2011, it also was the only collector of $849,194 of these fees, which ultimately are paid for by consumers.

So it was no surprise that legislators began questioning how ConsumerWatchdog – which snuck this special interest provision into a ballot measure it authored – has come to have corner the market for collecting the revenue from this program (it alone has raked in more than $5.6 million since 2008).  In 2012, then-State Senator Juan Vargas (D-San Diego) called for legislative hearings on the matter, noting: “The Department should broaden its outreach to all Californians that have a legitimate interest in their insurance rates. We must get the facts about why more consumers are being excluded from the process.”

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