Delaying Fuel Cost Piece of Greenhouse Gases Law Pits Blue Collar vs. Progressive Elites

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

One of the most high profile bills in the legislative session that resumes next week just got pushed into the center of the spotlight. AB 69, the measure to delay applying cap-and-trade regulations to transportation fuels, drew the attention of hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer who pledged “to spend what it takes” to see that the greenhouse gases reduction law is implemented according to schedule.

If AB 69 does not move forward, beginning in January, the cap-and-trade provisions of AB 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act, will cover motor vehicle fuels. Estimates range from a 15-cent to 70-cent increase in the cost of a gallon of gas if vehicle fuels are included.

Steyer’s move puts him at odds with some California Democrats who are concerned that their constituents and the economy will suffer with increased fuel costs.

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What’s Good for Putin Is Good for California

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)

Here are two words Californians should say to Vladimir Putin:

Thank you.

California, with its historic reliance on defense-related industries, never quite recovered from the end of the Cold War. Today, Los Angeles has fewer jobs than it did in 1990. Fortunately, Putin seems intent on giving us a new Cold War.

Let’s stipulate that Putin’s crushing of dissent at home, his seizing of the Crimea, his wars against Ukraine and Georgia, and his bullying of European neighbors are bad for the peace and security of the world. But all this Russian madness—not to mention the threatening, nationalistic expansionism of Putin’s Chinese ally President Xi Jinping—presents an opportunity for California.

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To Fight Inequality, Blue States Need To Shift Focus To Blue-Collar Jobs

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

In the coming election, we will hear much, particularly from progressives, about inequality, poverty and racism. We already can see this in the pages of mainstream media, with increased calls for reparations for African-Americans, legalizing undocumented immigrants and a higher minimum wage.

There’s no question that minorities’ economic wellbeing has deteriorated since the economy cratered in 2007. African-America youth unemployment is now twice that of whites, while the black middle class, once rapidly expanding, has essentially lost the gains made over the past 30 years, says the Urban League.

Conservatives may not have the answers but it’s clear that a progressive regime has not worked either.

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Don’t Let This Drought Go Down the Drain

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

Two weeks ago, State officials approved an emergency regulation imposing $500 fines on water users who violate mandatory conservation measures. With 80 percent of the State now in extreme drought, it’s imperative that we all conserve as much water as possible. Visit SoCal WaterSmart to find out what water conservation programs are available for your home and business.
The current drought has underscored the critical need for investment in our state’s water infrastructure. “Our state’s water system is in a deep financial crisis, with failing marks for essential infrastructure and with unmet needs of about $2-3 billion annually,” according to a recent report by the Public Policy Institute of California.

State funds for water programs are drying up quickly and state lawmakers have been unable to move beyond long-standing water wars to successfully amend the $11 billion water bond slated for the November 2014 election. The $11 billion bond measure was originally developed in 2009 to create a more drought resilient state by funding the development of local water resources and storage capacity. The general thinking in the legislature is that this bond is too large to secure voter approval.

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Taxes and Jobs

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

A column by journalist David Cay Johnston in the Sacramento Bee re-visited arguments made by opponents of the Proposition 30 tax increases – including me – that jobs would be killed if the taxes were increased. As pointed out in the article, California has increased jobs since the taxes took effect.

However, it was not an unreasonable assumption to make, as I’ll discuss below and there is a question how many more jobs we might have if the taxes had not passed. Another Bee column by Board of Equalization member George Runner argues that the tax increases might have prevented even greater job growth that should be expected from a surging economy.

Johnston took our No on 30 position from the state’s voter information guide rebuttal argument when he quoted the argument that Proposition 30 “hurts small businesses and kills jobs.” As he correctly points out there are more jobs now.

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The Last Days of Heavy Manufacturing in California

Michael Bernick
Former California Employment Development Department Director & Milken Institute Fellow

In 1993, novelist and California native Joan Didion traveled to the City of Lakewood in Southern California to report on its changing employment and culture. Her essay, “Trouble in Lakewood”, published 21 years ago this week, detailed a declining economy and troubled culture.

Lakewood was the largest of California’s suburbs built in the immediate post World War II period. As Ms. Didion describes, prior to World War II, the area that became Lakewood consisted of “several thousand acres of beans and sugar beets just inland from the Signal Hill oil field and across the road from the plant…that the federal government completed in 1941 for Donald Douglas.”


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California Businesses Ally To Ensure Robust Water Policy

California Forward Reporter

If you’re looking for a high-profile manufacturer that for sure depends on water, New Belgium Brewing seems like a good one to highlight. As they say on the advocacy page, “You can’t make great beer without clean water.”

And that sounds like a pretty good reason for the brewery to become a founding member of the Blue Business Council, a network of businesses that officially launched recently as a partnership with California Coastkeeper Alliance and local Waterkeeper organizations. For the members, encouraging policies that tackle drought and water pollution in the state’s watersheds and ocean waters represents just plain good economics.

“As the drought underscores, the management of our water resources is not purely an ‘environmental’ issue,” said Sara Aminzadeh, executive director of California Coastkeeper Alliance. “The availability and quality of California’s water affects every person and business in California. Businesses have a responsibility to use their resources, innovation and networks to work towards a more secure water future. We are partnering with businesses who are doing just that.”

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From All L.A.’s Residents-Hollywood’s Battle Is Our Battle

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

Hollywood’s neighborhoods and residents are under attack by big time real estate developers who are investing billions in too many to count high rise residential and commercial buildings along the three mile stretch of Hollywood, Sunset, and Santa Monica Boulevards between Western Avenue and the border with West Hollywood.

This massive densification will overwhelm the area’s aging infrastructure (streets, water, power, sewer, gas) and the City’s ability to provide police and fire protection. It will also turn Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards into unsightly canyons, destroying the existing character and culture of these thoroughfares and the surrounding residential areas.

Worst of all, the resulting traffic on these poorly maintained boulevards and narrow side streets that are already jammed with parked cars will turn Hollywood into Gridlock City.  Not only will this traffic adversely impact the quality of life and public safety of the surrounding residential neighborhoods, it will endanger the tourist industry and create a huge disincentive for employers in the high tech, engineering, and entertainment industries whose highly paid professionals will refuse to fight the traffic.

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The Republicans Best Chance in 2014

Tony Quinn
Political Analyst

Republicans are looking around for a chance to snag one statewide office this fall, and most attention has focused on Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin running for Controller.  But the GOP should really focus on Pete Peterson, their candidate for Secretary of State.  He has a much better opportunity than Swearengin.

Peterson is the executive director of Pepperdine University’s Davenport Institute for Public and Civic Engagement, and has been campaigning on an agenda of reform for the Secretary of State’s office, which it badly needs.  Swearengin is a well respected second term mayor of Fresno but she had a very bad break when Board of Equalization member Betty Yee nabbed the Democratic nod for Controller over former Assembly Speaker John Perez.

But the biggest difference between Peterson and Swearengin is that he will have his name and a personal message in the ballot pamphlet that goes out to 16 million voters, and Swearengin will not.

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Twin Tunnels Project Threatens Property Owners

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

You’d think that with all the well deserved bad press heaped on the High Speed Rail debacle that Governor Brown would be a little more circumspect about mega-infrastructure projects which, presumably, he wishes to be the cornerstone of his legacy. Unfortunately, it appears that his legacy may be that of an inflexible politician who has saddled California with projects that are financially suspect and downright wasteful.

His latest adventure is the pursuit of the “Twin Tunnels,” a massively expensive water conveyance project. This project, part of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), envisions two large tunnels 40 feet in diameter to take water from the Sacramento River and send it to the southern part of the San Joaquin delta to be connected with both the California Water Project and the Central Valley Project.

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