Ignoring the Will of the People

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

To borrow a term from the legal world, prima facie evidence indicates the governor and legislature have little regard for what the voters think and choose to go their own way. It can be seen with the governor’s moratorium on the death penalty and the legislature’s decision on rent control.

Governor Newsom’s position on the death penalty is well known. He worked on a 2012 initiative to end the death penalty, made clear his goal was to end the death penalty in California, and soon after being sworn in as governor, Newsom signed an executive order to prohibit carrying out death sentences while he is in office.

Yet, voters expressed a different view.

In the 2016, voters approved Proposition 66 to speed-up the death penalty process while rejecting Proposition 62 to abolish the death penalty. Voters also shot down a death penalty abolition initiative in 2016.

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Lawmakers Cannot Rush Through Critical Recycling Bills

Rev. Robert Jones
President/CEO for the California Association of Black Pastors (CABP) Sacramento chapter.

Recycling policy in California is at a crossroads. In an effort to overcome our state’s urgent sustainability challenges, the Legislature is now considering a broad array of bills that aim to reduce waste or increase the use of recycled and recyclable materials.  

However, to balance the state’s environmental goals and the needs of California businesses and consumers — especially those in disadvantaged communities — lawmakers would be wise to use a scalpel instead of a hatchet when crafting a long-term sustainability strategy. 

Unfortunately, two bills under consideration would place the burden of increased recycling directly on small businesses and their customers. AB 1080 and SB 54, collectively known as the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, would require a 75 percent reduction of the waste generated from priority single-use plastic products by 2030. While reducing plastic waste may ostensibly seem like a positive development, a closer look reveals that these bills fail to address the root of our recycling issues and could ultimately present significant and severe harm in our communities.  

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Scary Santa Cruz

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)

Is Santa Cruz the scariest place in California?  

The coastal county of 275,000 tortured souls is not our most dangerous place, but it embodies the greatest fears of Californians, which are all about our powerlessness  

Our coastal beauty is under attack by climate change, our immigrant neighbors are being persecuted by our country’s own government, and our state’s wealth no longer guarantees anything, not even a roof over our heads. 

Perhaps that’s what made Santa Cruz such an effective setting for Jordan Peele’s “Us”, the year’s most popular horror film. “Being here feels like there’s this black cloud over me,” says the film’s protagonist, played by Lupita Nyong’o

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Common Sense versus Climate Hysteria

Joel Kotkin
Editor of NewGeography.com and Presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University

Whether it’s fires in California or Brazil, hurricanes like Dorian or your summer hot spell, it’s not just weather anymore but a sign of the impending apocalypse.

This specter of imminent demise tied to the everyday, notes one American Psychological Association study, has induced “stress, depression and anxiety” among a wide part of the population. The Congress’ leading green advocate, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, admits her climate concerns often wake her up at 3:30 in the morning.

Of course, significant changes in the climate could well be afoot, but our “woke” media and its favored go-to expert class seem more prone to hysteric prophesizing than properly skeptical analysis.

After Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, some climatistas confidently predicted that it was harbinger of ever more powerful tropic storms, yet it was followed for 10 years by something of a “hurricane drought” that, sadly, may be at an end.

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Public Banking and the Slow Takeover of the Private Sector

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

If the governor says okay, we will soon see public banks established in local jurisdictions pop-up around California, another step of government officials invading the private sector.

The legislature sent to Governor Newsom AB 857 by Assembly members David Chiu and Miguel Santiago to allow for the creation of public banks, controlled by local government entities.

Proponents claimed the banks are needed to help finance infrastructure and housing to attack the state’s housing crisis but it’s clear that supporters want to take money from private banks to drive ideological agendas.

Public banking advocates argue, “Public banks create a stable means to divest public funds and investments from banking organizations and industries that may not align with the values of our communities.” And what are those values? One look at the many endorsers of the bill show practically all are of a liberal bent.

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California Democrats Are Embracing Real Political Reform

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)

Good news. The California Democratic Party is embracing real, smart political reform—even though such reforms are not in the party’s political interests.

Late last month, the party executive board adopted support for two sets of reforms.

The first involves representative democracy. Specifically, the executive board comes out in favor of proportional representation and multi-member districts, instead of single-member districts. Those are the best modern tools for giving people representation that is truly representative and diverse in a variety of ways.

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Who’s in, who’s out of AB 5?

Judy Lin
CALmatters reporter

Doctors, real estate agents and hairdressers can keep their independent contractor status. But not truckers, commercial janitors, nail salon workers, physical therapists and — significantly — gig economy workers, who will gain the rights and benefits of employees in California under sweeping workplace legislation passed Wednesday.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has committed to signing the bill, which cleared the Assembly 56-15 in a challenge both to the longstanding trend toward outsourcing labor and to the business model of companies such as Uber, Lyft and DoorDash, who have threatened a $90 million fight at the ballot box.

Once signed, AB 5 would upend longstanding employment practices that have seeped into the Democratic presidential debate about how workers should be treated, particularly in today’s gig economy.

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The Enemies of American Infrastructure

Edward Ring
Edward Ring is the vice president of research policy for the California Policy Center.

Between 2008 and 2019, China opened up 33 high speed rail routes, connecting 39 major cities along four north-south and four east-west main lines. The 18,000 mile network runs trains at an average speed of around 200 miles per hour. By 2030, the Chinese expect to double the mileage of their high speed rail network by expanding to eight north-south and eight east-west main lines. In less than 20 years, the Chinese have completely transformed their rail transportation network.

This is typical for the Chinese. China is also building three new airports – offshore. Dalian, along the north coast opposite the Korean peninsula, Xiang’an, on the central coast facing Taiwan, and Sanya, off the coast of Hainan Island in the strategic South China Sea. All three airports are to be built to the highest international levels, with 12,000 foot runways able to accommodate the Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger airliner. All three are built on “reclaimed land,” i.e., the Chinese intend to bulldoze a few mountains into the ocean and flatten them into runways. And all three, from start to finish, will be built in under ten years.

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AB 5 and the Ghost of Failed Bills Past

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

If AB 5 to reclassify workers in the new economy becomes law it will set up future trouble for the state much like the bills in the 1990s to deregulate energy and the granting of wider pension benefits for public employees.

The bills are quite different and their paths to becoming law are also different. Both the energy and pension bills passed with little opposition and less scrutiny. In contrast, there has been plenty of concerns raised about AB 5, but while the launch of these bills is dissimilar, the likely crash landing of the new measure will  feel like what happened with those 1990s laws–a troublesome mess.

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Is Steyer Running for President—Or California Office?

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)

Tom Steyer is supposedly a candidate for president. But he is spending much of his time at home in California. 

Yes, he’s made trips to Iowa and New Hampshire, but he resembles a statewide candidate in California. It’s not just his schedule of events, most recently a climate change event in Oakland. His team is heavily Californian. And his policy prescriptions mirror the priorities of California.

In this context, it’s fair to wonder what his real goal is. He has never held elected office, so starting out as president seems both improbable and, as the current occupant of the White House shows, dangerous. Steyer’s late entry into the presidential race suggests he wasn’t sure about being president. And he stays in the race even though his support was too small to make the September debate. Steyer isn’t going to be president. So what is he really running for?

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