Low Voter Turnouts: Voter Apathy or Voter Disgust?

Allan Hoffenblum
Publisher of the California Target Book and owner of Allan Hoffenblum & Associates

The California Target Book, which I publish, just mailed out to subscribers its updated analyses of the key congressional and state legislative races in California this year.

What stands out is that even in the most competitive races, the overwhelming majority of voters decided to not vote.

Early this year, Congressman Henry Waxman announced that he would not seek reelection, opening up a Congressional seat for the first time in 40 years.

Waxman’s CD33 includes some of the wealthiest communities in the country, stretching from the Palos Verdes Peninsula north to Malibu. It also includes Beverly Hills and the surrounding Los Angeles neighborhoods of Bel Air and the Pacific Palisades.

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Bag Ban Worse Than an Inconvenience; Massive Hidden Tax Increase Stays in Grocery Stores’ Pockets

Dennis Hollingsworth
Senator Dennis Hollingsworth (ret.) is National Director at the National Tax Limitation Committee and served as Minority Leader of the California State Senate from 2009-2010.

New information reveals that the “plastic island the size of Texas” in the middle of the Pacific Ocean would be better described with an imaginary place name to describe its size, (say “Middle Earth Sized”). This is because recently when researchers went to go find this mythical plastic place so often cited as the reason for yet another government intrusion in what choices we make at the market, (this time literally, at the market, as in the grocery store) they couldn’t find it.

That’s right. There was no concentration of plastics as we’ve so often heard. No floating grocery bags with sea turtles mistaking them for delicious jellyfish. No floating mass of all those empty water bottles you tossed away instead of recycling. (You know you did!) No Wal-Mart bag from that time you snuck in and bought the three boxes of double stuffed Oreos and then tried to hide the bag outside in the trash and it ended up blowing away. Nothing. So you can stop feeling guilty.

But, of course this hasn’t stopped the folks in Sacramento from trying to ban those bags that cause, or caused, well; might-have-caused-if-what-we-originally-said-was-even-remotely-true, environmental damage.

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Fast Tracking $3 million for Border Crossing Unaccompanied Minors is Irresponsible

Michael D. Antonovich
Los Angeles County Supervisor

Any and all costs associated with Illegal immigration are a federal responsibility.   The state has already failed to reimburse local jurisdictions for unfunded mandates.  The legislature should be pressing our federal representatives to reimburse for ALL costs associated with their failed immigration laws. The reckless policy of providing legal representation to unaccompanied illegal alien minors who have crossed the border is a flagrant abuse of state funds – especially when you consider the unmet needs of our own foster children and emancipated youth.

Additionally, the legislative created this allocation by using the budget trailer bill process to enact urgency legislation, thus eliminating the need for Republican input.  This eleventh hour ‘end run’ by the state legislature is irresponsible.  If the Governor and legislative leadership believe this is an important policy discussion, then the legislature should follow its own rules instead of using parliamentary gimmicks.

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AG Blocks Real Initiative Reform

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Just last month, this column noted that the professional political class harbors great hostility toward the tools of direct democracy — the powers of initiative, referendum and recall. These are effective tools to control an indolent or corrupt legislature.

From the perspective of politicians, direct democracy allows the great unwashed and unsophisticated to deal with matters such as taxation, victims’ rights, insurance and, most importantly, political reform. These are issues over which politicians strongly desire to exercise a legislative monopoly.

The column was written in the context of Assembly Constitutional Amendment 6, a particularly pernicious proposal that would make it much harder for grassroots groups to use direct democracy by requiring a higher vote threshold at the ballot box for changes in the California Constitution proposed by citizens. ACA 6 reflects the epitome of hypocrisy because constitutional amendments proposed from the Legislature would not be subject to the higher standard.

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The Water Bond Is Another Missed Opportunity

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)

If the state of California could tax self-congratulation over missed political opportunities, we might have the money to rebuild our water infrastructure.

The water bond placed on the ballot by the legislature is of a piece with other less than impressive triumphs of the Brown Era. Presented with events and political possibilities to make big progress on a crucial issue, political leaders choose something small that doesn’t change all that much.

In water, the state’s needs – just to meet existing population and existing repair – run into tens, if not hundreds of billions of dollars. And this year, with a historic drought, the time was right for a fix. The state already had an $11 billion bond on the ballot that – despite constant criticism of it by the governor and media as full of pork – was doing well in polls.

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Is Litigation Costing You Your Kid’s Education?

Tom Scott
Executive Director, California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

As Californians prepare to send their children back to school, local school districts are preparing to welcome students, teachers, and staff back into the classroom. In recent years, however, high litigation costs have contributed to cutbacks in school budgets placing added pressure on the budgets of school districts, parents and teachers.

California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse has just released its 2014 School Litigation Report, which analyzed the litigation costs to 12 districts for fiscal years 2010-2011 through 2012-2013. The report found that the districts combined spent more than $125.6 million on litigation, spending $96.1 million on outside counsel, and $29.4 million on verdicts and settlements. The report can be read here.

That’s $125 million that districts spent on litigation instead of providing their students an education. Worse, because the districts examined account for less than 20 percent of the total enrollment of California’s K-12 public school districts, the total economic impact of litigation to the state’s education system is likely much higher than the cost reported here.

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A Look at Growth in Manufacturing and Other Sectors vs. The U.S.

Gino DiCaro
Vice President of Communications for the California Manufacturers & Technology Association

In light of 4,600 new California manufacturing jobs reported in July, we thought we’d take a look at how some of the largest job sectors were doing against the rest of the country since we began to come out of the recession in 2010.  The CMTA chart below shows each sector’s growth and average salary in both California and the U.S. It also shows the percentage of the private sector job base that each of these sectors account for in California.  In total it shows our state needs to find ways to attract more manufacturing.  Upticks like we saw in July are promising but California must keep it up.

Click the image for larger picture.


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Vergara Appeal Decision

Chris Reed
San Diego Union Tribune editorial writer and former host of KOGO Radio’s “Top Story” weeknight news talk show

To an astounding degree, prominent California Democrats have so far avoided substantive comment on Judge Rolf Treu’s landmark — but tentative – June 10 ruling in Los Angeles Superior Court that teacher tenure laws are so harmful to minority students in poor neighborhoods that it “shocks the conscience.”

A spokesman for Attorney General Kamala Harris told me repeatedly that the AG’s office wasn’t deciding on whether to appeal. He said Harris would do what her clients wanted. Gov. Jerry Brown and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson are named plaintiffs in the case, and if either or both want to appeal, I was told, Harris would then appeal.

Treu is expected to issue a final ruling by Sept.10, at which point an appeal decision must be finalized.

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2000s Job Growth Continues to Follow Population

Wendell Cox
Visiting Professor, Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, Paris

The United States lost jobs between 2000 and 2010, the first loss between census years that has been recorded in the nation’s history. The decline was attributable to two economic shocks, the contraction following the 9/11 attacks and the Great Recession, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Yet, even in this moribund job market, employment continued to disperse in the nation’s major metropolitan areas.

This is the conclusion of a small area analysis (zip code tabulation areas) of data from County Business Patterns, from the Census Bureau, which captures nearly all private sector employment and between 85 and 90 percent of all employment (Note 1).

The small area analysis avoids the exaggeration of urban core data that necessarily occurs from reliance on the municipal boundaries of core cities (which are themselves nearly 60 percent suburban or exurban, ranging from as little as three percent to virtually 100 percent). This “City Sector Model” small area analysis method is described in greater detail in Note 2.

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Napa Earthquake


Earthquake Information for California Residents

  • In California, residential earthquake coverage can be purchased through the California Earthquake Authority (CEA).
  • A CEA policy must be in place for insurance coverage to be available.
  • Aftershocks that occur within 360 hours (15 days) of the main earthquake will be considered a part of the same quake.
  • The CEA policy provides coverage for emergency repairs, up to $1,500. These repairs are NOT subject to a deductible.
  • CEA policies also include coverage for additional living expenses when you’re unable to stay in your home due to earthquake damage.

Information provided by State Farm


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