California, Don’t Get Suckered by the 2024 Olympics

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)

After Boston dropped its bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics on Monday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti quickly put out a statement expressing interest in the Games. Boston needs to be replaced as the American bid city for the games, and early speculation is that L.A. would be the replacement.

San Francisco could be in play too. The two big California cities competed for the U.S. Olympic Committee’s nod against Boston earlier this year and were finalists, along with Washington D.C., before Boston was the winner.

As readers here know, I’m a huge sports fan, but I’m decidedly not a fan of spending billions of dollars on pro sports teams and big sports events. But I have a soft spot for the Olympics – it has a meaning for the world that goes beyond dollars and cents. And the Olympics has been incredibly good to California and specifically Los Angeles. The 1932 and 1984 Games both continue to shape the city, mostly in positive ways. (I often drive home from work along Olympic Boulevard).

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HHS Spending and the Quest for More Money

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

Fox_Exp by ProgramThe Hoover Institutions’ EUREKA newsletter this month examines California’s Revenue Conundrum. Given the recent clamor for more social spending one chart in the report catches the reader’s eye.

The chart shows expenditure by program type from 1976-77 to 2015-16. While most programs have remained steady or had a modest increase, Health and Human Services towers over the other items on the chart. It even bests the second largest expenditure gain, K-12 education, by a considerable amount.

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LAO Deals a Blow to Pension Measure’s Chances

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

The Legislative Analysts Office may have dealt the death knell to an effort to slash the retirement security of California’s teachers, firefighters, peace officers, bus drivers and other public employees this week with a candid assessment of its impact.

In its analysis of the measure, being advanced by former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and former San Diego City Council member Carl DeMaio, the no-nonsense LAO concluded “There is significant uncertainty as to the magnitude, timing, and direction of the fiscal effects of this measure and its effects on current and future governmental employees’ compensation.”

It said the measure would likely be the subject of legal battles because of the massive uncertainty about its impact.

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Putting Climate Change Ahead Of Constituents

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

Racial and economic inequality may be key issues facing America today, but the steps often pushed by progressives, including minority politicians, seem more likely to exacerbate these divisions than repair them. In a broad arc of policies affecting everything from housing to employment, the agenda being adopted serves to stunt upward mobility, self-sufficiency and property ownership.

This great betrayal has many causes, but perhaps the largest one has been the abandonment of broad-based economic growth traditionally embraced by Democrats. Instead, they have opted for a policy agenda that stresses environmental puritanism and notions of racial redress, financed in large part by the windfall profits of Silicon Valley and California’s highly taxed upper-middle class.

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Wealth and Poverty in California and Tennessee

Bill Watkins
Executive Director of the Center for Economic Research and Forecasting at California Lutheran University

Over the past 18 months, I’ve spent a lot of time in East Tennessee, Appalachia if you will. You can’t avoid poverty in East Tennessee. It’s pretty much everywhere. A large, and obviously expensive, home may have a trailer next door, a trailer so dilapidated that you are sure no one lives there. But, someone does live there. You may see a light at the porch, or a car, or a satellite antenna. Sometimes, you run into a pocket of such homes. They call them Hollows.

If you go to an event with a large crowd, you hear language that sounds almost foreign –, things like “Where was you?” or “Them cows ain’t mine.”

A Californian can easily conclude that poverty in East Tennessee is a far worse problem than it is in California. But that’s not true.

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Stay and Run for U.S. Senate, Joe!

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)


To: Joe Biden
From: Joe Mathews
Re: California, Here You Come

You cut a happy, glad-handling swath through California last week and got great reviews.

In this era dominated by cold, strategic and distant California politicians, genuine human warmth and hugs were refreshing. And you seemed to enjoy yourself too.

So why don’t we make this more than a visit, Mr. Vice President?

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The Coming Revenue Debate Must Look Beyond Politics

Justin Ewers
Deputy Director of Policy and Communications for the California Economic Summit

With more than a dozen major tax measures moving through the Legislature or toward the November 2016 ballot, California’s perennial debate about taxes is set to begin anew—with millions of dollars in political campaigns preparing to shape how the state will raise billions of dollars in revenue, and provide public services, for years to come.

In a report released yesterday, From Revenue to Results: Considering today’s tax proposalsCA Fwd aims to broaden this pivotal conversation, encouraging Californians to look beyond how much money each measure would raise and who would pay—and to consider the proposals’ combined fiscal, governance, and policy impacts, as well. After providing a detailed look at this year’s major tax ideas, the report defines a set of criteria for assessing their strengths and weaknesses—and outlines what a tax system that meets the criteria might look like.

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Can LA Afford Another Olympics?

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

Boston bailed on hosting the 2024 Olympics when Mayor Martin Walsh refused to sign a host city contract with the United States Olympic Committee (“USOC”) that would have put Beantown (and possibly the Commonwealth of Massachusetts) on the hook for any cost overruns associated with this 17 day extravaganza.  But Walsh’s refusal to mortgage Boston’s future was understandable given the unfavorable economics associated with this over hyped event.

According to an article in Harvard Magazine, A Fiscal Faustian Bargain” by Professor Andrew Zimbalist, perhaps the foremost analyst of public investments in sports facilities and global athletic competitions, the cost is expected to exceed $15 billion.  This includes operating costs during the games, the construction of new venues, infrastructure improvements, and security. 

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Who Holds Superior Rights, And Where Is All That Water Going?

Aubrey Bettencourt
Executive Director, California Water Alliance

In the regulatory realm, responsible due process follows a simple path: Legislation creates a statute granting authority; that authority sets regulation and conforming orders; violations of orders result in a notice; notice leads to demonstration of wrongdoing; and wrongdoing leads to punishment.

Within this framework, courts interpret how the players conduct themselves. Our constitution gives the judicial system the authority to put any player in the penalty box if they misbehave.

But somehow this reality is lost on the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB).

SWRCB recently told holders of 9,018 junior and senior water rights to stop diverting water from California’s rivers and streams. The SWRCB deputy counsel and lawyers said in court filings and to the media that it’s because ‘there isn’t enough water to go around for everyone with water rights.’

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The Cigarette Tax Dilemma

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

Is a tax on cigarettes a revenue raiser or a “sin tax”—used to discourage individuals from using products considered harmful? The effort to raise taxes on cigarettes – there is a measure in the legislature as well a ballot initiative moving through the process—often directs new revenues toward specific purposes. Yet, the increased taxes often lower the use of a product thus reducing the revenue for organizations and agencies.

Last, week the Los Angeles Times reported that the First 5 committee, which received funding from a previous cigarette tax increase, was concerned that fewer smokers meant less revenue. The First 5 group, which focuses on improving early years of children’s lives, is attempting to rally the legislature to add revenue from any new cigarette tax to include First 5 in those groups that receive new revenue.

But the cycle will certainly continue for First 5 and any agency that receives cigarette money. A tax increase will likely once again reduce the number of smokers and cigarette purchases and at some point reduce the revenue agencies expect to receive.

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