There’s No Business Like Trump Business

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

It appears that President Donald Trump’s faux “bro-mance” with the country’s corporate business leadership has pretty much come to an end.  The President craves respect, especially from the business elite. But, to paraphrase comedian Rodney Dangerfield, Trump doesn’t get much respect these days.

After decades of being excluded from the elite “club” in New York, Trump finds that major business executives don’t want to be part of his “club” either. A particular blow to the Trump ego must have been entrepreneur Carl Icahn’s withdrawal as a Presidential advisor. Trump has often bragged about his relationship with Icahn.

The Charlottesville clash was the catalyst for the break-up, but relationships  between President Trump and the corporate elite were never smooth. While big business may like the thought of tax cuts and lax regulations, Trump’s stands on immigration and trade are an anathema.  And corporate leaders understand that climate change is real and needs to be addressed.  Pulling out of the Paris accords only added a big dose of economic uncertainty, which business hates.

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Bail Reform Restores Basic American Values of Freedom and Justice

Gary Raney
Served for 32 years before retiring from the Ada County Sheriff’s Office in Boise, Idaho. He now consultants both privately, and for the US Department of Justice, helping criminal justice agencies improve their policies and processes.

Bail reform is not a partisan issue. It’s not an urban or rural issue.  It should be everyone’s issue.

It’s an American issue. The United States is one of only two nations on planet Earth that use a commercial bail system.

And across the country, from big cities, such as Washington, D.C., to rural counties in places like Alabama, from so-called blue states like New Jersey to red states likeKentucky, bail reform has either been enacted or is under consideration. Nationally, groups as diverse as the Cato Institute, Right on Crime, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Council of Chief Justices, the American Bar Association, and the ACLU have spoken out against current bail practices and called for reform.

And why is that? Because the current money bail system runs afoul of the basic premise of the American justice system, that you are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. But even more troubling, the current system does not effectively protect the public.

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Milton Friedman Lives On

Robert Rivinius
Executive Director, Family Business Association

Milton Friedman was a world-class economist, won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1976, and passed away in 2006. Friedman championed repeal of the death tax (estate tax) for years. In 2001 he wrote an open letter on the subject and convinced 276 economists to sign on. This week the national Family Business Coalition, of which the Family Business Association of California (FBA) is a member, has announced the letter now has 723 economists signed on including four winners of the Nobel Prize. Here are a few excerpts from Dr. Friedman’s letter:

“Spend your money on riotous living – no tax; leave your money to your children – the tax collector gets paid first. That is the message sent by the estate tax. It is a bad message and the estate tax is a bad tax.

The basic argument against the estate tax is moral. It taxes virtue – living frugally and accumulating wealth. It discourages saving and asset accumulation and encourages wasteful spending. It wastes the talent of able people, both those engaged in enforcing the tax and the probably even greater number engaged in devising arrangements to escape the tax.

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Take Me Out to the California League

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)

Take me out to the ballgame this summer? Sure, as long as you’re taking me to San Jose or Visalia or Lake Elsinore.

Yep, I know those cities don’t have major league teams—that’s the point. In California these days, Major League Baseball is miserable. But the California League—our very own minor league—is a little-known jewel, binding together our most challenged cities and regions with wholesome and affordable entertainment.

This summer, I’ve made a point of attending California League games in search of an antidote to the awfulness of California’s five major league teams.

Three of our five big-league franchises—the Oakland A’s, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres, and Anaheim’s Angels – are having terrible seasons. A fourth, Anaheim’s Angels, is merely mediocre. The stadiums in Oakland and Anaheim have decayed into dumps. Even the one California championship contender—my hometown Los Angeles Dodgers—greedily cling to an expensive cable contract that prevents most Southern Californians from seeing this promising season on TV.

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Building a Better Answer to L.A.’s Affordable-Housing Crisis

Ron Galperin
Los Angeles City Controller

Los Angeles residents are being squeezed by one of the country’s most unforgiving housing markets. A majority of the City’s lowest-income residents pay more than half of their income toward rent, live in severely inadequate conditions, or both, according to a new federal study. Many are one rent increase away from homelessness.

Angelenos are looking for answers. One proposal is a linkage fee, a new surcharge on development, which would create a small stock of subsidized affordable housing while likely driving up prices for everyone else. At $12 a square foot on residential projects of more than five units, the fee would add $9,000 to the cost of a 750-square-foot apartment, and more when you factor in common areas. The surcharge belies basic economic logic: you can’t make something more affordable by slapping a fee on it.

San Francisco charges linkage fees that are far greater than those proposed in our City, yet the fees have resulted in just 86 units per year, according to BAE Urban Economics, which L.A. contracted to study the effects of the fees. Statewide, subsidizing affordable housing for the 1.7 million households who need it would cost more than $250 billion, according to the state Legislative Analyst’s Office, almost twice the state’s entire annual budget.

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Real Reforms Needed to Stop Abusive Business-Killing Lawsuits 

Vince Fong
California State Assembly, 34th District

California is one of the most expensive states for businesses to operate in–in large part due to lawsuit abuses that unfairly target businesses–earning the state the unflattering distinction of being the worst “judicial hellhole” in the nation. Making this even worse is the fact that the targets of these frivolous lawsuits are often the 3 million California small businesses that make up the backbone of our economy.

The breeding ground for these lawsuit abuses is created via the Private Attorney General Act (PAGA). Under PAGA, employers are being sued minor for frivolous items such as typos on a paycheck or not having a beginning and ending date on a pay check stub. Hard working employees ultimately bear the cost of these lawsuits.

While well-intended, PAGA has led to thousands of questionable lawsuits against employers both large and small. Trial lawyers pursuing expensive lawsuits are forcing many businesses to close down or move out of the state. According to the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, over 6,000 PAGA notices are filed every year and PAGA lawsuits increased by more than 400% from 2005 to 2013.

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The Housing Bond Would Be Just a Drop in the Bucket

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)

Why bother with a $3 billion housing bond?

The deal on housing legislation is shaping up as emblematic of this Second Brown Era in California politics; a big political push for a policy that won’t make much difference at all.

The LA Times has explained in some detail why the legislative pieces won’t make much difference. The size of the housing bond being discussed- — $3 billion is also instructive.

That’s a huge amount of money in the politics of Sacramento, and securing it politically would be a huge win, particularly given Gov. Brown’s previous reluctance to support such bonding.

But the policy math makes it look pretty meaningless. The Legislative Analyst has written that if the state is going to subsidize affordable housing construction, large public subsidies will be needed.

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Homebuilders (Still) in Good Hands

Timothy L. Coyle
Consultant specializing in housing issues

The selection a few years back of former GOP leader David Cogdill to lead California homebuilders (CBIA) through difficult times was an excellent choice.  CBIA had come to symbolize an industry in transition – flummoxed by the duality of a deep recession and smaller, regional builders giving way to increasingly dominant national companies.  Both were putting the squeeze on membership and already skinny association finances.

Added to these internal pressures were those coming from government – particularly from the state Capitol where hostility to growth has been on the rise for decades and where increasingly legislators seek to dictate rigid new environmental standards for association members to follow.

Cogdill was a veteran Modesto lawmaker who well-understood the angry “land-use politics” of Sacramento while harboring critically important visionary instincts, particularly when it came to the capture, retention and fair allocation of water in California.  In choosing Cogdill, CBIA seemed to be positioning itself for enduring tough times ahead with a smile.  After having misfired for many years, CBIA leaders finally got it right.

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A Scary Halloween Recall?

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

With enough signatures filed to force a recall election for Sen. Josh Newman the governor must call for the election from 60 to 80 days from when the recall is certified by the Secretary of State. Here’s a prediction that the recall will fall on Halloween, Tuesday October 31.

Democrats in the legislature hoped to push off the recall election until next June when a larger voter turnout would consider a number of issues on the state primary ballot, including an expected competitive governor’s race. The bill passed by the legislature and signed by the governor to delay the recall was put on hold last week by an Appellate Court judge, throwing a wrench in that plan.

The Democrats still scored on behalf of Newman when the Fair Political Practices Commission decided to overturn a long-standing rule that elected officials could give no more than $4,400 from their campaign committees to a colleague facing recall. The decision came after an attorney for the Democratic senatorial caucus first appealed to a friendly commissioner who did not inform the commission or the public about the contact as expected by commission standards.

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Circular Firing Squads — Fire, Aim, Ready

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

They have long been advocates of a strong military build-up, but today, Republicans in Washington and Sacramento appear to be embracing circular firing squads. Instead of guns, this firing squad is using finger pointing and tweets aimed at erstwhile allies.

President Trump’s attacks on fellow Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senator John McCain and even his own Attorney General, exemplify the disunity that has seized the national GOP, despite the party’s hold on the Presidency and both houses of Congress.

National Democrats have their own intra-party squabbles.  The Berniecrats are rejecting anything that smells of moderation and abortion rights has reemerged as a litmus test issue.

In California, what’s left of the Republican Party is split over climate change.  Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley) is under attack in his own caucus for supporting Governor Jerry Brown’s cap and trade legislation. It remains to be seen whether Assemblyman Mayes, a well-credentialed conservative, will continue to hang on to his leadership post. But the challenge to his leadership is more threatening than that to McConnell’s or than the threat of recall to Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.

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