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Business Should Imitate CTA Advocacy Effort

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

The California business community should take a page from the game plan of the state’s most powerful public employee union to build an argument for a healthy business climate. The California Teachers Association recently released a series of radio and television commercials promoting the profession. The ads do not advocate for a ballot measure or a candidate, but they build the foundation of goodwill for when the union does get involved in the political arena, which it does often.

The business community should take the same approach. However, as Tony Quinn recently wrote in a Fox and Hounds Daily commentary, “business has proven entirely tactical in their approach to politics: there is little long term strategic thinking.”

Challenge a specific business or industry in the political arena and they will respond fiercely. But suggest a long-term campaign of espousing the virtues of a better business climate and no one raises a hand. Such an education campaign would pay off at election time.

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Prop. 47’s Benefits Are Clear

Wayne Hughes Jr.
Former Executive of Public Storage and Founder of American Commercial Equities, which includes properties in Orange and Los Angeles Counties. In 2011, he founded Serving California, a nonprofit that facilitates healing for military families, crime victims, and inmates looking to rebuild their lives. He has contributed to the Prop 47 campaign.

Well, they’re at it again – the fear-mongers that malign smart, common sense ideas because they’re afraid of changing the status quo.

But when it comes to our bloated, ineffective prison system, the status quo needs dramatic changing. That’s why I and other conservative Republicans (like Newt Gingrich) have joined law enforcement, crime victims and others to support Proposition 47, the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, this November.

It’s time we drop all the politics and fear-mongering and actually look at what works to protect public safety. Because it is that very same fear-mongering that got us into this mess.

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Kashkari Represents Another Failure of the Top Two

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)

Neel Kashkari should be the embodiment of what backers of the Top Two (it-is-not-a-primary, don’t call it a primary) promised us.

He is moderate. He is willing to depart from the doctrine of his own party. He presents himself as less partisan. He talks all about working together.

Trouble is, the top two makes it next to impossible for him to get noticed, much less compete.

Because the top two primary doesn’t actually support any of the things – moderation, compromise, anti-partisanship – that it’s supposed to.

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Senator Boxer, Trial Lawyers and Prop. 46

Tom Scott
Executive Director, California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

No this is not a lead in from Ed McMahon for Johnny Carson’s Carnac the Magnificent.

The more than 50,000 grassroots supporters of California CALA have been saying for years that the lawsuit system needs reform because it mainly supports the interests of lawyers rather than ordinary people.

How? By perpetuating a cycle through which personal injury lawyers financially benefit from bad laws that encourage lawsuit abuse, which are written by lawmakers whose campaigns are funded by…you guessed it…personal injury lawyers.

Case in point: Barbara Boxer is one of the few elected officials in California actively advocating for Prop 46. Why is that? This is a state law – not a federal one.

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Let’s Protect The Good Jobs We Have

Ted Gaines and Jack Stewart
Ted Gaines, California State Senator (1st District) and Jack Stewart, President of the California Manufacturers Association

The level of schizophrenia within the State Capitol appears to be hitting a new high when it comes to the topic of job growth in the state.

Lawmakers know that manufacturing jobs provide high wages and a ladder to the middle class, and this legislative session they delivered much-needed bills to attract new investment and jobs to California through tax breaks and other incentives.

But at the same time, lawmakers passed bills that will kill the good jobs we already have by hurting factories with deep roots in California.

Senate Bill 270 (Padilla) is a perfect example of the job-killing impulse that’s far too common in the Capitol.  This misguided measure to ban plastic bags and impose a minimum 10-cent tax on paper bags will punish the poor and shut down a small-but-important California industry.  No other state in the nation has sought a statewide plastic ban coupled with a paper bag tax, and we should not be the first.

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Republican Voters Supported the Top-Two Primary Ballot Measure

Sam Blakeslee
Former California State Senator, Ph.D., and the Founding Director of the Institute for Advanced Technology & Public Policy at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Under California’s recently adopted top-two primary system the two candidates who received the highest number of votes in the primary advance to the general election, creating the new phenomenon of general election races between members of the same party. This year, 25 of the 158 legislative and congressional seats will entail intra-party contests. Today, four years after the passage of prop 14, analysts and partisans still debate whether or not Republicans supported the measure at the ballot in 2010. The following analysis attempts to answer that question.

Lauded by those who prefer competitive general elections, the top-two primary has made campaigns significantly more complex, and some might say more interesting. The reform has also generated frustration due to intra-party races that cause campaign dollars to be spent in so-called “safe” rather than “swing” seats. Of this year’s 25 same-party races, 7 are between Republicans and 18 between Democrats. The result is that Democrats are involved in more intra-party battles than Republicans.

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Kashkari’s Jerry Maguire Moment

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)

Much of the commentary about Neel Kashkari this fall is laughable. He’s constantly being advised that he needs to do certain things – raise more money, attack Brown, hit a home run in the date, etc.

Let’s face it: Neel Kashkari doesn’t have to do a damn thing.

One of the privileges of being Neel Kashkari in this campaign is that he should feel free to say and do whatever he wants. He is like the fictional sports agent Jerry Maguire, after he loses his jobs and all his clients, save one. He can build the kind of company that he wants, because no one is paying much attention. He really has nothing to lose.

At times, Kashkari seems to realize this. Why else would a candidate – who needs to show gravitas and that he can get known – going undercover as a homeless person for a week?

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Ward Cleaver’s Job World (Los Angeles 1957)

Michael Bernick
Former California Employment Development Department Director & Milken Institute Fellow

(A longer version of this posting will be appearing in the journal of the California State Library, which houses the collected papers of Mr. Bernick).

Over the past few months, I have been researching the job world in 1950s California for an essay in our California State Library journal. As part of the research, I set out to track the employment of adults on the street that I grew up on: the 8400 block of Fourth Street—between Orlando and La Cienega– in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles (neighborhood period photos included).

Most of us in our youth know little about the employment of adults in our neighborhood. When I started my research I had only vague idea of the occupations or work histories of the adults on this block. But I was able to find three of my former neighbors, all current Californians, who helped with research: Asa Baird, the retired winemaker in the Napa Valley, Peter Davison, the composer now living in Santa Monica, and Jeff Siegel, who is known to many F&H readers as the former horse racing analyst for the Los Angeles Times and other publications and commentator since 2002 on HRTV.

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R.I.P. Pete Schaafsma

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

Pete Schaafsma and I crossed paths quite a few times over the last 30-odd years. When you work on tax, budget and economic issues you want to learn from someone who knows the ins and outs — the minutia and details. Pete Schaafsma was a go-to guy on that score. The news of his passing caught me by surprise.

We were not always on the same page in these discussions. Early on, I remember one particularly heated conversation when Pete was with the Legislative Analyst’s Office and I was at the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. The point of contention was tax expenditures – those items in a budget that are considered lost or at least foregone revenue that government does not receive because of a tax exemption or tax break.

I argued that tax expenditures shouldn’t be counted as missing government money because the money was never collected; it was the taxpayers’ money after all, not the government’s. I’d like to think that my argument appealed to and was understood by the man or woman on the street while Pete could point to government insider and academic briefings that backed him up.

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Another Tax That’s Really Just For Pensions

Ed Ring
Executive Director, California Public Policy Center

The city of Watsonville lies nestled among some of the most verdant farmland on earth. Just a few miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, the moderate, moist air nurtures endless fields of strawberries, apples, fresh flowers, cauliflower, broccoli and artichoke. Fragrant forests of redwood carpet the Santa Cruz Mountains to the north; some of the most abundant and diverse marine life in the world spawn in the Pajaro estuary to the immediate south. Watsonville is surrounded by agricultural abundance and scenic beauty. But like many other agricultural towns in California, Watsonville’s economy has struggled. The average household income in Watsonville is $47,442 per year, well below the California average of $58,328, and the city’s 17.8% unemployment rate is nearly twice the state’s average.

None of this stopped Watsonville’s civic leaders from putting onto the June 2014 ballot a Public Safety Sales Tax, Measure G, which in an election with 30% turnout, squeaked through with just over the required two-thirds majority. Shoppers in Watsonville will now pay 9% sales tax.

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