In observance of Memorial Day, we will not publish on Monday, May 25th. Have a great long weekend.
When I used to write that Gov. Jerry Brown didn’t have much of a plan or an idea behind his second go-round as governor, the protests came back hard. No, no, he’s for local control.
The case for Brown as champion of the locals went like this. He did realignment in criminal justice to give the locals control. His new funding formula for schools included provisions for community plans that would give communities more control. And he was for changes in energy that would empower citizens and communities.
Now, not so much. Brown has doubled down on command-and-control targets from Sacramento on energy efficiency and the environment. Those school community plans? They’re a farce, forcing parents to answer prescribed questions; they can’t honestly be called plans. His much-touted rainy day fund measure limited school districts’ ability to manage their own finances. And realignment – it’s meant more responsibility for locals, but Brown never gave locals the money – or the freedom to raise it.
According to the Democratic Party analysis of Steve Glazer’s victory in Senate District 7, Glazer ran a “cynical” campaign appealing to Republicans and, “We know that low turnout elections favor Republicans. When Democratic voters show up and vote, Democrats win.”
I suppose one way to interpret that analysis is that those who only pay attention part time to politics or are not engaged in public affairs and don’t bother to vote in important off-year elections vote for Democrats when they do vote. Some might argue that is a formula for our government’s dysfunction, but that would be cynical and the Democratic analysis already used that term in describing Steve Glazer’s campaign. Both approaches couldn’t be cynical, could they?
In April, the City of Los Angeles reached a deal to repair the city’s broken and crumbling sidewalks, at a cost of more than $1 billion over 30 years. Just how bad are the city’s sidewalks? One city estimate found that 40 percent of the city’s sidewalks needed to be fixed.
A plan to fix the sidewalks of Los Angeles was way overdue. Why? Because the poor state of the city’s sidewalks invited lawsuit after lawsuit against the city, at a cost of roughly $5 million per year. That’s $5 million every year that wasn’t going to fix sidewalks, or to fund any other vital city services, such as police or fire protection. Much of that money went into the pockets of personal injury lawyers, instead of funding services that taxpayers need.
(Editor’s Note: This is the introduction to a new report, California’s Social Priorties, from Chapman University’s Center for Demographics and Policy. The report is authored by David Friedman and Jennifer Hernandez. Read the full report (pdf).)
California has adopted the most significant climate change policies in the United States, including landmark legislation (AB 32)2 to lower state green- house gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Proposed new laws, and recent judicial decisions concerning the analysis of GHG impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), may soon increase the state’s legally mandat- ed GHG reduction target to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.3 The purpose of California’s GHG policies is to reduce the concentration of human-generated GHGs in the atmosphere. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and many other scient.c organizations have predicted that higher GHG atmospheric concentra- tions generated by human activity could cause catastrophic climate changes.
The Los Angeles City Council tentatively voted to increase the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. The business community opposed the move. How business will react is unclear but there was much discussion during the debate over the issue about lost jobs and eyeing more friendly business locations.
The wage increase is to be phased in over time so the immediate impact may not be felt. Businesses ought to keep score when the effects hit so officials will be cognizant of the consequences. By no means cheerleading for negative effects here, but if the wage increase doesn’t cause economic disruptions and it appears business’s challenge to the dramatic increase in the minimum wage is just an exercise in rhetoric, the business communities credibility will suffer.
Living in an exceptional place is hard work. Especially when your place needs big changes.
Californians know this well. We feel such an obligation to live up to our reputation as “The Great Exception” among U.S. states, as the writer Carey McWilliams famously called us, that we routinely embrace novel schemes that other American places run from, like a $70 billion high-speed rail project.
People in Tunisia, where I spent last week, know the pressures of exceptionalism too. The North African country of 11 million is where the Arab Spring began four years ago with the toppling of a four-decade-old dictatorship, and it’s the only Arab Spring country that has made the transition to democracy. It’s also blessed with an economy that is open to the outside world, an army that doesn’t aspire to rule the country, a strong civil society, and a tradition of women’s equality.
California is undergoing profound change. Most strikingly, people are leaving the Golden State, which was once the preferred destination of migrants worldwide. California’s domestic migration has been net negative for over 20 years. That is, for 20 years, more people have been leaving California for other states than have been arriving from other states. The state’s population is only growing because of a relatively high birthrate, mostly among immigrants.
Domestic migration is not a one-way street. It may be net negative, but lots of people are coming to the state. It’s just that more are leaving. Generally speaking, low and middle-income people are leaving. Those coming tend to be wealthier and older than those leaving. They are people who can afford California’s higher costs and limited opportunity. These migratory trends are increasing income-inequality in America’s most unequal state.
Lorena Gonzalez doesn’t shy away from a fight.
After less than two years in the state Assembly, the former San Diego labor organizer has established herself as the state’s leading advocate for workers.
Last year, Gonzalez successfully authored legislation to force companies – large and small – to provide paid sick leave to nearly all of their employees. This year, she’s urging Democrats to wade into a politically-sensitive fight over the state’s workers’ compensation system.
Mindful of the millions they spend electing Democrats, the public employee unions expect legislators to act like the old Soviet-era nomenklatura, compliant toadies who do what they are told. So when one gets out of line it’s big deal. Democratic special election candidate Steve Glazer dared do so, and labor spent $3.5 million trying to keep him out of the State Senate. Last night Glazer won with 55 percent of the vote, and labor lost.
So how did he do it? Glazer had crossed labor by helping elect Democrats not on their approved list. He was blackballed as a political consultant, and then when he tried to run himself for the Assembly in 2014, labor unloaded on him and in the process managed to blow a winnable Assembly seat. And then much to the surprise of the unions, he jumped into the special election for an open Senate seat in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties this spring.
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