A Californian on the National Ticket?

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

Only one Californian—actually a former Californian—is even given an outside chance of appearing on one of the major party presidential tickets. That would be Carly Fiorina, the former head of Hewlett-Packard who while a resident of this state lost a senate race to Barbara Boxer. Fiorina has since moved to the East Coast.

So it appears that no Californian will find a place on a major party ticket in 2016—or maybe one could, but it would be even a longer shot.

We are still eleven months away from the Republican nominating convention in Cleveland and already pundits are having a field day with the ever-changing nature of the presidential campaign.

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Passports, Religions and Wolves

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)

With apologies to the late, great Los Angeles sports journalist Allan Malamud, here are some late-summer notes on the California scorecard.


The LA Times recently declared that a combination of state laws granting benefits and responsibilities to unauthorized immigrants – in-state tuition, drivers’ licenses, rules to limit deportations, state-funded health care for children, stripping the word “alien” out of the labor code – constituted the establishment of a new kind of “California citizenship.”

Of course, at the same this idea was being advanced, an initiative to make California an actual separate nation was being criticized an example of an abuse of the initiative process. Ours is definitely a country of contradictions.

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AB 465: Trial Lawyers’ Attempt to Enrich Themselves

Maryann Maloney
Southern California Regional Director of California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

The final weeks of the legislative session have arrived, and that means it is silly season in the State Capitol. At this time of year, trial lawyers use every trick they have to expand litigation and make sure our state’s lawsuit system continues to mainly serve the interests of lawyers rather than ordinary people.

One of their top priorities is getting Gov. Brown to sign AB 465 (Hernandez), which seeks to eliminate pre-dispute employment arbitration agreements. Put simply, this is a terrible idea. AB 465 would only drive up litigation costs by increasing individual claims and class action lawsuits against California employers.  Who stands to profit from all this additional litigation? That’s right, trial lawyers.

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Olympics to LA?—Could there be a Referendum?

Bruno Kaufmann
Editor of People2Power, a Global Democracy Media Initiative hosted by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation.

Can the Olympics and democracy co-exist?

It’s a question being asked again this summer after Beijing won the bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. Beyond the fact that the International Olympic Committee put the biggest event in winter sports in a smog-ridden megalopolis without any real snow, people are concerned about China’s demonstrated record of human rights violations during the last games it hosted, the 2008 Summer Olympics.

But the International Olympic Committee didn’t actually have a democratic option. The only challenger to Beijing was Almaty, capital of another Asian dictatorship: Kazhakstan. All the other potential democratic bidders—Munich, Germany; St. Moritz, Switzerland; Krakow, Poland, and Oslo, Norway—had previously pulled out, as a consequence of subjecting their candidacy to the democratic process. Each had held a popular vote on holding the Games, and it turned out the idea wasn’t very popular at all.

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Stop Sign Cameras In Mountain Parks May Take A Hike

Susan Shelley
Susan Shelley is an author, former television associate producer and twice a Republican candidate for the California Assembly.

Stop Sign IMG_4920The Santa Monica Mountains are home to nearly 400 species of birds, more than 50 threatened or endangered plants and animals, and seven threatened or endangered photo-enforced stop signs.

State Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) wants to save the ticket-mailing stop signs from extinction, but Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) has introduced a bill to kill them off. In January, SB 218 will return to the Senate Natural Resources Committee for a second time, after Pavley, chair of the committee, blocked it in May.

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Amending SB 350 on the Way to Paris

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

Senate President Kevin de León called the efforts of those opposed to his SB 350 energy bill “fear-mongering.” Gov. Jerry Brown’s chief aide, Nancy McFadden called one of the charges made against the bill “outrageous.” A  columnist said the speculation of opponents was “outlandish.”

Yet, now Sen. de León says he is advancing amendments in response to one of the complaints about the bill—that the Air Resources Board will have a free hand in implementation with no legislative oversight.

Might other concerns about the immediate economic effects also be valid? Sen. de León seems to be hearing those concerns. At least he reportedly said that the measure will have “exit strategies and off ramps” in case of an economic downturn.

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Why Is It So Hard to Enroll a Kid in Public School?

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)

A wiseacre neighbor walked by the corner where I was standing and shouted, “Is this the line for the U2 tickets?”

Nope. The line, which extended out a brick building for about a block, was just another group of California parents forced to prove, in this age of hyper-regulated childhood, that we actually live where we’re trying to send our kids to school.

With a new school year comes a new season of student enrollment, and registering kids has never been more fraught. After years of hearing all the talk about the centrality of educational access to California’s civic life, I’ve been surprised—and annoyed—to discover, as a father, all the hurdles to performing the simple act of putting your kid in a public school.

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Why the SF Bar Pilots Deserve Overdue Rate Increase

Peter McIsaac
Captain, San Francisco Bar Pilots

It’s arguably one of the toughest jobs in California: safely guiding more than 9,000 oil tankers, container ships, and cruise ships each year through treacherous currents and fog, past shoals, and under narrow bridges through busy northern California waterways.

The expert mariners of the San Francisco Bar Pilots have safely ushered vessels up this way since 1850; we board vessels by climbing hand over hand on rope ladders at sea 11 miles west of the Golden Gate, and then bring them home safely to nine ports within San Francisco Bay and the Port of Monterey.

It’s a rough business, particularly with a shipping industry that is consistently looking to cut costs. A recent blockbuster series in The New York Times noted “On average, a large ship sinks every four days and between 2,000 and 6,000 seamen die annually, typically because of avoidable accidents linked to lax safety practices.”

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A Time for Bipartisan Deals

Jim Mayer
Executive Director, California Forward

With three weeks left in this year’s legislative session, California has entered the “Top Two” season.

With the Capitol in the twilight of its annual calendar, a number of seminal bills requiring compromise – especially those requiring bipartisan votes – will come to the floors in the Assembly and the Senate.

Most notably this year will be a deal to raise revenue – and hopefully enact some performance and accountability assurances – to literally fill millions of potholes on the state’s roadways.

Last year’s “Top Two” season produced the historic $7.5 billion water bond. Democrats supported more money for water storage than environmentalists would have liked, and Republicans supported more public debt than the tea party would have liked.

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Are Energy Efficiency Programs Efficient?

Rex Hime
President and CEO of the California Business Properties Association

Most of the attention around SB 350 and SB 32 has focused on renewable energy and petroleum but there are also many questions that need to be answered about the feasibility and expense in reaching the “stretch” goals and policies related to energy efficiency.

California already has – by far – the most energy efficient building codes in the nation.  Title 24, as it is referred to, has over time kept our state’s overall use of energy stable while the population has exploded.  SB 350 now wants to arbitrarily DOUBLE energy efficiency in all buildings across the state.  This sounds like a great goal, but it has some Real World issues.  To wit:

A recent study by professors from UC Berkeley, University of Chicago, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reviewed more than 30,000 households in Michigan and found some surprising results. The study examined the Federal Weatherization Assistance Program, which provides low-income households weatherization upgrades.

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