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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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San Diego Minimum Wage Referendum in for Tough Fight

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

The San Diego Small Business Coalition said they have enough signatures to freeze the new San Diego minimum wage law and force a vote on the issue in 2016. The business coalition better put away whatever savings they gain from the wage freeze because history shows they will have a tough fight ahead of them.

No question small businesses have to adjust costs and hiring practices when the law requires a boost in the business’s wage costs. But voters have generally supported a minimum wage increase when it comes before them.

San Diego businesses opposed to the minimum wage law intend to turn the tide.

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Governor Signs Draconian Groundwater Laws

Jim Nielsen
State Senator, Fourth Senate District, which includes the counties of Butte, Colusa, Del Norte, Glenn, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, Shasta, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity and Yuba

Governor Jerry Brown signed a package of groundwater legislation – Assembly Bill 1739, Senate Bill 1168 and Senate Bill 1319 – that were put together in the back rooms of the Capitol. These bills were continually amended and tweaked up until the final moments of passage in the late hours of the legislative session.

It is unfortunate that the Governor felt compelled to sign this groundwater management scheme that was hastily cobbled together without regard to historical legal precedent and private property water rights.

Californians who rely on groundwater will now have to deal with not only new and unaccountable government agencies that will police water usage; they will be at the mercy of these faceless bureaucrats who will impose unknown fees and fines.

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Groundwater Bills: Crises as Catalyst for Policy Change

Jeffrey Mount and Ellen Hanak
Mount and Hanak are Senior Fellows at the Public Policy Institute of California

Yesterday Governor Brown signed three bills that require portions of the state to start managing groundwater sustainably. These bills are historic. Until today, California was the only western state that did not regulate groundwater, typically the source of more than one-third of the state’s supply, and much more during dry years.

Why, after a century of failing to address much-needed reform, has the state finally acted on this problem? It’s the drought.

The problem of groundwater overuse is nothing new in California. Calls for reform began as far back as the early 1900s, when severe excess pumping in many groundwater basins began to cause problems. Chronic overdraft—taking more out of the ground than nature puts back in—has left many basins severely depleted.

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Lowe’s Lawsuit: The Definition of Insanity

Tom Scott
Executive Director, California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

Recently, a Superior Court Judge named Paul M. Haakenson (Republican, appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger) in Marin County laid out the terms of a settlement order and final judgment against Lowe’s on how it must label building products in California. The settlement came as a result of a case involving claims by the Marin County district attorney, Edward S. Berberian.

D.A. Berberian brought the civil consumer protection action against the retailer because he felt that “Lowes was unlawfully advertising structural dimensional building products for sale.” This case involved the labeling of 2×4’s. Yes. I said 2×4’s.

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Proposition 47 Does Not Put Public Safety First

Board of Directors

Californians are facing one of our most serious public safety threats in recent memory. The threat is Prop 47 — a ballot initiative that would flood the streets with thousands of dangerous felons and soften penalties to make misdemeanors out of serious crimes that are now felonies.

We face a huge uphill battle to defeat it. According to a recent San Francisco Chronicle column, the pro-Prop 47 forces have raised more than $3 million, compared to just $8,000 by the opposition. Recent polls show that about 6 in 10 people support it. But do they really know what Prop 47 is going to do if it passes?

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