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More Labels For Fish = More Confused Consumers

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

Before Hollywood, before biotech, before container shipping, before international tourism, even before the Navy – the economy of coastal harbors was tied to fishing. Sardines, tuna, swordfish and seabass were caught and processed by the ton, supporting thousands of jobs.

Now fishing and seafood processing is a global enterprise, but San Diego, San Pedro, Monterey, Bodega Bay, Eureka and many other communities to this day support fishing and processing enterprises and hundreds of jobs.

But what international competition hasn’t defeated, the state of California just may.

Last month, the California Legislature sent to the Governor legislation that would require superfluous labeling of seafood. The effect of the bill wouldn’t be only to irritate and confuse consumers, but upend the state’s fish processing and retail businesses for a California-only requirement.

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The Lessons of Six Californias

Joe Rodota
Former Cabinet Secretary and Deputy Chief of Staff to California Governor Pete Wilson. He is co-founder of One California, a committee opposed to the Six Californias ballot measure.

What a fiasco.

Tim Draper’s misguided proposal to declare California a failure and break it into six pieces has failed to qualify for the November 2016 ballot, despite his investment of nearly $5 million in an army of signature gatherers, media consultants and lawyers.

Had Draper’s “Six Californias” initiative not imploded last week, it would have certainly failed at the ballot box in 2016.  So Draper avoids spending untold millions of additional dollars in campaign for his initiative and California’s brand avoids a 24-month thrashing in state and national media.

There are a few lessons to be learned from this episode.

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Would Arkansas Have Saved Six Californias?

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)

Tim Draper’s Six Californias measure won’t be on the ballot, because just two-thirds of signatures in a random check were valid – meaning that there weren’t enough signatures to qualify.

If Draper had been collecting signatures in Arkansas, that wouldn’t have been the end of the story. California initiative law is inflexible, and designed to make it hard to rectify errors. But Arkansas law gives initiative sponsors who come up short in validity checks a second chance. As Governing magazine recently noted, initiative campaigns there get an additional 30 days to collect more signatures if they have too many invalid signatures to qualify at first.

Intriguingly, Arkansas may decide to change this law – and create a new standard even tighter than California. A measure on the November ballot would create a hard 75 percent validity rate requirement for signatures. If 75 percent of your signatures aren’t valid on the first try, your initiative automatically fails.

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Vote for Legal Reform!

Tom Scott
Executive Director, California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

This week is California Voter Registration Week. The Secretary of State is encouraging businesses, community groups, nonprofit organizations, and public agencies to inspire people to take part in the November 4th election.

California had a pretty dismal turnout for the June primary, as roughly 18% of the 17.7 million registered voters in California turned out to vote. In the April 2012 municipal elections in the City of Long Beach the turnout was 11%, and in 2014 it was 14%. These are not exactly inspiring numbers. Can we do better? I think we can.

The last day to register to vote is October 20th. Want an easy way to register? You can now register online. It is easy and you can even become a permanent absentee ballot voter. Weigh in on democracy from your desk at home. I think Benjamin Franklin would be amazed.

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Amid Disunity Talk GOP Re-Building

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

Given the headline generating internal arguments with top of the ticket candidates and party officials about party unity, it’s probably good that the real work of re-establishing the GOP as a political force is to try and build from the ground up. The key phrase emphasized by organizers of the state Republican convention in Los Angeles this weekend was the changing face of the GOP. There clearly has been some progress in the face-changing direction as diverse candidates were introduced to the delegates.

Skeptics say the Republican effort at diversity is a sideshow; that refusing to budge on many social issues and actually recruit members of groups that typically identify with Democrats will not change the voting dynamics in the state.

One group often mentioned as a target that has avoided the GOP is young people.

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Why Are They Distancing Themselves From Your Party, Mr. Brulte?

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)

How clueless are the top officials of the California Republican Party?

Even more clueless than you might have imagined.

In a must-read story full of unintentionaly hilariousness, the Sacramento Bee reported on emails between California GOP chief Jim Brulte and other key players in the party.

In the email, they whine about the two strongest statewide candidates their weak party is fielding this fall – Ashley Swearengin, the Fresno mayor running for controller, and Pete Peterson, who is running for California Secretary of State.

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Placing Fuels Under the Cap Puts Low-Income Households Under the Bus

Justin Adams
President and Chief Economist of Encina Advisors, LLC

John Husing, the Inland Empire economist, asserts that California’s policies are short-sighted when it comes to many important subject areas like energy policy. Specifically, he argues that the state’s leadership from wealthy coastal counties tends to design policies that make sense for these same counties, but that ultimately create unintended, negative consequences for poorer inland counties.

Husing may be on to something. However, I think his conclusion applies not only to California’s geography, but to its socio-economics as well.

Case in point: incorporating transportation fuels into the state’s Cap-and-Trade Program (“placing fuels under the cap”).

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In Debate, Torlakson Misrepresents Teacher-Discipline Bill

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

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson debated challenger Marshall Tuck on Wednesday night and once again found himself on the defensive over the teacher tenure laws targeted in the Vergara decision. Cabinet Report details how Tuck went after …

… Torlakson’s support of teacher tenure laws that were invalidated by a superior court judge earlier this summer, and a more recent decision by the superintendent to seek an appeal of the ruling.

“I helped pass a law this year to make it easier to fire ineffective or abusive teachers, but I also believe that experienced teachers deserve a fair hearing when their job is on the line,” said Torlakson in his opening statement.

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Franchise Legislation is Unnecessary Intrusion

Franchisee of Auntie Anne's in San Francisco

Is it a problem if the franchisee owner of a cookie store or print shop decides to ignore a franchise-wide promotion on a product or service?  How about a franchisee hotel owner deciding to ignore training procedures, or not maintain cleanliness standards, or refuse to have wi-fi?

Yes, these are problems.

Is it okay for a restaurant franchisee to purchase ingredients from unapproved sources to save a few dollars, even if it makes a difference in the quality or taste of the product?

No, it is not okay.

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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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