Team Educate Runs Up Big Lead on Team Medicate

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)

When you watch a California budget season, the best way to understand what you’re watching is as a game between three teams.

Those three teams represent the three major functions of the state: Educate, Medicate, and Incarcerate.

These days, this is really a two-team race, however. Because Team Incarcerate is in the penalty box, forced by the federal courts to reduce its number of players.

That leaves Team Educate and Team Medicate. And the contest is an interesting one.

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A One-Two Punch Against the Initiative Process at the Supreme Court

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

An Arizona case before the U.S. Supreme Court that challenges the state’s ballot initiative created redistricting commission could have such an effect on California politics that three former California governors, noted California political scientists, and a California state commission have all filed briefs in the case.

California voters also approved ballot measures that took the power to draw district lines away from the legislature and gave it to an independent commission. Proposition 11 in 2008 created the Commission to draw state legislative districts, Proposition 20 in 2010 allowed the commission to draw congressional districts. If the Arizona legislature were successful in court banning the commission more than the redistricting commissions would fall. Ultimately, the entire initiative process could be endangered.

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Water Bond Promises Must Be Kept

Jim Patterson and Joel Nelson
Assembly Member Jim Patterson represents the 23rd District, which includes portions of Fresno and Tulare counties. Joel Nelsen is president of California Citrus Mutual, representing 2,200 grower members statewide.

If you, like 3.5 million Californians, voted “yes” on the $7.5 billion water bond last year, you should start paying attention to how Gov. Jerry Brown is planning to spend the bond money.

It may not be on building new dams to store water for future dry years like he assured voters, farmers and legislators before the election.

The governor recently divulged how he wants to spend the first $532 million: restoring streams, rivers and watersheds, water recycling projects, upgrading drinking water treatment plants, rebates for people buying water-efficient appliances and, finally, groundwater management and cleanup.

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Is Deficient Recruiting the Real Reason for Police Understaffing in San Diego?

Ed Ring
Executive Director, California Public Policy Center

Whenever there is a shortage of police personnel in a California city, a common reason cited is inadequate pay. When officers at a particular agency are paid less than their counterparts at some other agency, so the theory goes, they quit in order to start working where they can make more. This seems to be sound logic. But is it supported by facts?

According to a new study “Analysis of the Reasons for San Diego Police Department Employee Departures,” released last week by the California Policy Center, the answer to that question is a resounding “no.” Authored by Robert Fellner, research director for the Transparent California project, the study’s findings contradicted the conventional wisdom. They were:

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Here’s Hoping “Clear the Field” Doesn’t Prevail in Senate Race

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

The buzz created by Los Angeles City Council president Herb Wesson’s endorsement of AG Kamala Harris for U. S. Senate was a big “get” because Wesson was known as an ally of former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa who is considering jumping into the Senate race. Astute political observer, Dan Schnur of USC’s Jesse Unruh Institute tweeted that the endorsement was a big deal because it cut into Villaraigosa’s Southern California base.

Naturally Harris and her campaign team are doing all they can to clear the field of big time opponents so that she can have clear sailing to a top spot in the primary and a victory in the general election.

However, in a state of 38 million people we shouldn’t have major political contests that feature only one viable candidate. Here’s hoping that “Clear the Field” doesn’t succeed.

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R.I.P. Dan Wall

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

Dan Wall was an expert on local government finances who advocated for counties and readily engaged in debates over tax philosophy in a straightforward, congenial way. Our paths crossed many times serving on panels or discussing tax questions when he worked for both the California State Association of Counties (called the County Supervisors Association of California until 1991) and the County of Los Angeles. Wall passed away last week.

On one memorable occasion, Wall commented on the recently passed Proposition 218, the Right to Vote on Taxes Act, of which I was a proponent. The measure toughened the rules on passing taxes, something local government opposed. In fact, CSAC was one of the leading opponents of Proposition 218 during the election campaign.

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The 2015 CALA Legal Reform Wish List

Tom Scott
Executive Director, California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

With the 2015-2016 legislative session under way, it’s worth reminding our elected leaders why legal reform is needed. Ultimately, enacting legal reform is about making our lawsuit system serve the interests of ordinary people, rather than making personal injury lawyers rich. Stopping the abuse of our legal system will enable California businesses to grow and create jobs.

California has a long way to go. Last month, our state was again named one of the nation’s top “Judicial Hellholes,” due to the many abuses of the lawsuit system that take place here. These abuses include “shakedown” lawsuits alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Proposition 65, the use of “public nuisance” lawsuits and contingency fee lawyers by the public sector, and abusive lawsuits alleging violations of consumer protection laws.

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Public Sector Pay: Transparency and Perspective

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Public sector labor leaders in California would rather that the public remain relatively ignorant about how well their members are compensated. But they are fighting a losing battle.

Because of California’s massive unfunded pension liability and other scandals, the public is demanding answers. Interests as diverse as taxpayer groups, business organizations, the media and some elected officials have moved aggressively, not only to address these problems, but also to ensure that there is much greater transparency about public sector compensation than we have seen in the past.For example, attorneys at Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association won several Public Records Act lawsuits against government interests — mostly at the local level — who were attempting to shield their compensation data from the public. And PensionTsunami.com is a website which for years has been a clearinghouse for articles on pension abuses.

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Villaraigosa Record has Pluses for Senate Bid – and Landmines

Chris Reed
San Diego Union Tribune editorial writer and former host of KOGO Radio’s “Top Story” weeknight news talk show

The signs are growing that state and national Democrats’ attempts to clear the U.S. Senate field in 2016 for California Attorney General Kamala Harris aren’t working.

Several well-known Democrats are seriously considering challenging Harris, and at least a couple seem likely to run — starting with former Assembly Speaker and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

In recent coverage of the Senate race to succeed retiring Barbara Boxer, talking heads on CNN and MSNBC have treated Villaraigosa, 61, as a formidable foe for Harris, 50. But they have been vague about what it is that might make him preferable to a Democratic rival who seems much more comfortable and appealing on TV and who has far more national patrons.

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The Cop Whisperer

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

Over the weekend, Congresswoman Karen Bass held a forum on the issue of policing in the African-American community featuring Los Angeles Civil Rights attorney Connie Rice, an appointee to President Obama’s 21st Century Community Policing Task Force. During the forum a number of community members expressed anger at the lack of progress on dealing with the police while Rice offered her formula for making strides in police/community relations. As she summed up, things are not as bad as they were but not as good as they should be.

Rice said the formula for success is to flip the incentives for police – to credit police for handling a situation and not making an arrest instead giving them credit for an arrest or what she said police department’s often call a “righteous shooting.”

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