Black Bart Award Nominee: One Party Dominance

John Wildermuth
Journalist and Political Commentator

If you’re looking for the person, group or organization that most shaped California in 2018, consider this:

Jerry Brown purposely goes where the president won’t and invites leaders from around the world to San Francisco for a landmark summit on climate change.

Nancy Pelosi leads her party to a smashing election day victory and stands poised as a counterbalance to  President Trump and his policies.

Gavin Newsom romps to an easy win in the governor’s race and prepares to take California in a more progressive direction.

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California, France and a Gas Tax Hike

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

In California, voters recently rejected an effort to reduce the 12-cent a gallon gas tax increase backed by the legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown. In France, rioting and protests accompanied a proposed 25-cent per gallon gas tax increase. Why the different reactions? 

Trying to discern an answer is important because some argue that the situation in France is a harbinger of things to come here in this country, if not the violent protests, at least pushback against higher taxes to battle climate change. French authorities suspended the tax following days of civil unrest. 

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2019 Brings Bans on Certain Settlement Agreement Provisions

Chris Micheli
Chris Micheli is a Principal with the Sacramento governmental relations firm of Aprea & Micheli, Inc.

AB 3109 (Stone) takes effect on January 1, 2019 to make unenforceable any provision in a contract or settlement agreement that prevents a person from testifying in a judicial, administrative or legislative proceeding in response to a court order, subpoena or official request about alleged criminal conduct or sexual harassment. In addition, SB 820 (Leyva) prohibits a provision within a settlement agreement that prevents the disclosure of factual information related to specified claims or complaints in either a civil action or an administration action.

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Frivolous PAGA Lawsuits Don’t Help Workers or Employees

Ken Monroe
Chairman of the Family Business Assn. of California and the president of Holt of California.

Fourteen years ago, California set up a new method for enforcing its complex wage and hour laws.

The legislation, called the Private Attorneys General Act, or PAGA, allows private attorneys to sue employers on behalf of a class of company employees.

The ostensible motivation behind the law was to protect workers. But in reality, PAGA lawsuits have made it more difficult for family-owned businesses like mine to be flexible with employees.

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Fox and Hounds’ Annual Black Bart Award

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

For the past nine years frequent contributors to this page Joe Mathews, John Wildermuth and I have nominated candidates for Californian of the Year in the world of politics. We name the final selection the winner of the Black Bart Award.

There are no specific criteria to follow in making the selection. Each author will explain his reason for selecting a nominee. Perhaps, the nominee took one courageous act, or committed a dastardly deed that had great repercussions, or performed heroically in difficult circumstances. The nominee may be a person, or more than one, or even an institution or an issue that had great impact on California politics and policy over the year.

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Virtually No State And Local Races Are Decided On Election Night, So Why Pressure For Early Results?

Caity Maple
Principal & Lobbyist for Quintana, Watts & Hartmann

Oh, election night.

It’s so much more than just the counting and reporting out of how people voted for candidates and on issues, it is a direct — and at times emotional — reflection of what our priorities are and what direction our district, city, county, state or even the nation is heading.

Voting is a reflection of our values.

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The Arrival of Governor Gavin Newsom

Richard Rubin
Attorney Richard Rubin has taught public policy at USF, UC Berkeley and other institutions and is Chair of the California Commonwealth Club Board of Governors

All elections have consequences—some more than others. California’s often send ripples across the nation—none greater than the one just concluded.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (San Francisco) is a safe bet to be voted in as the returning Speaker of the House in a chamber that will be transformed with 40 new Democrats of diverse backgrounds and views. Included among them are 6 new Democrats who ousted long-time Republicans making 1 out of every 5 Democratic members of Congress a Californian.

However, it will not be a cakewalk for Pelosi with many of the rookie non-Californians making demands for committee assignments and advocating new voting rules that will make life more difficult for the leadership.

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Capra the Californian

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)

The California story needs a remake.

Get me Capra!

Frank—legendary director of films from It Happened One Night to It’s a Wonderful Life—has been dead since 1991, you say? No matter! Just this fall, Capra published a novel, a short David-and-Goliath tale about developers and locals in the eastern Sierra. So just dig up his bones at Coachella Valley Public Cemetery and reassemble them behind the camera to make another classic about little guys who won’t bow to the big shots.

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California’s Two Election Results

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

California seems to be running two elections, the one that concludes Election Day when the television ads and mailers finally stop and initial results are announced, and the second election with final results a month later that show a number of different winners. While most other states have their final election totals nearly complete election night and winners can take a bow and losers concede, in California that process takes weeks when many fewer members of the general public are paying attention. The California Target Book put some numbers on this phenomenon: an astounding 42.7% of the vote was tallied after the election, over 5 million votes.

Can’t we do better than this?

The first score came election night when Republicans were reported to still be in competition for a number of seats. At the time the Target Book reports that California’s vote count stood at 7,272,399. But in the following weeks an additional 5.4 million ballots were counted closing in on half of the yet to be certified final total. See what I mean about two elections?

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Higher Turnout Shouldn’t Discourage Direct Democracy

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)

The high turnout in this November’s elections in California is good news – mostly. More people were engaged, and new laws to encourage voting did the job. Indeed so many people voted that it may be possible that more than half of the 25-plus million Californians who are eligible to vote may have cast ballots. It would be the first time in ages that, among eligible adults, the voters would outnumber the non-voters.

But there are downsides to high turnout. The first is obvious: the high turnout represents the real threat that Trumpism poses to our state and our country. The second is less obvious.

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