Finding the Power to Get Fresh Water from the Ocean

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

It’s April, for most part the rainy season is over and the severe California drought lingers. Beyond strict conservation, other ideas once considered fanciful or too expensive are back on the table. We’ll skip past the idea of towing an iceberg, as I previously referenced — something endorsed by the California legislature decades ago — and focus on desalination.

Proposals to desalinate water from the Pacific Ocean have run into environmental concerns and cost issues. Environmentalists still raise alarms dealing with the health of the ocean and the creatures that live in it. The thinking on the cost issue is changing, however, because of the severity of the drought, the increased value of water, and potential energy resources to make the process work.

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Could A New Pro Football Stadium Help California Beat Its Drought?

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)

That’s the ambitious goal of the latest stadium proposal to appear in Los Angeles. The project—details of which are only now becoming public—would provide more than merely a home for the National Football League’s Jacksonville Jaguars, who are looking to leave their smaller market in North Florida. The proposed stadium would double as one of the world’s largest and most advanced water recycling facilities.

The new stadium would be designed to help capture and clean rainwater from Los Angeles’ infrequent storms, thus fulfilling two longstanding Southern California dreams. After 20 years of pro football drought, L.A. would again have a team. And Southern California could become far less reliant on imported water by collecting more of the billions of gallons of water that fall during a storm.

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Memo to Steve Glazer: Being a Democratic “Centrist” Doesn’t Mean Being Against Working Families

Steven Maviglio
Principal of Forza Communications, a Sacramento-based public affairs/campaign firm

There’s a political war brewing in the mix of tony and working class suburbs of the East Bay that, thanks to the Top Two primary, is between two Democrats – self-described “centrist” political consultant Steve Glazer and Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, a pragmatist perhaps best known for her work on the “Uber” bill and working with Gov. Jerry Brown on education reform.

Bonilla is widely expected to carry the bulk of the Democratic vote in this solid blue district. Glazer, who won the endorsement of a Republican challenger and also backed a Republican over a Democrat in last year’s East Bay Assembly race, has courted GOP voters aggressively (even hiring a GOP consultant). In the May runoff, he is counting on winning the lion’s share of GOP voters, who will likely make up a disproportionate share of the special election vote.

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Some Encouraging Words For Higher Education

Dick Ackerman and Mel Levine
Dick Ackerman and Mel Levine co-chair the California Coalition for Public Higher Education. Ackerman is a former California State Senator and Assemblyman, and Levine is a former U.S. Congressman and State Assemblyman.

“We have to invest in science and technology and our universities and that’s building for the future, not stealing from it.” Those words were spoken by Governor Jerry Brown on Meet the Press.   For those of us who believe that higher education needs to be a priority in California, those were welcome words.

It is no secret that in neither his first or second go round as Governor has Jerry Brown been identified as a booster of the University of California or the State University system. Recently, when the UC Board of Regents approved a tuition increase schedule to go into effect if the State does not increase financial support for the University, Governor Brown stood in opposition and proposed a decrease in UC funding in his initial 2015-16 State Budget proposal, unless the tuition increases are rolled back.

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CA’s Court System Must Be Adequately Funded

Tom Scott
Executive Director, California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

On March 23rd, the Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye of the California Supreme Court delivered her annual address regarding the state of the California judiciary to the California Legislature.

While the state of the judiciary is improving, it has a long way to go. Here’s what the Chief Justice had to say: “You [the Legislature] pass bills that the Governor signs into law that judges and justices apply and interpret. Our collective work is intertwined by design and necessity. We absorb about 8 million case filings each year. The important work done her in these chambers and the Governor’s office – our laws – come to life and are interpreted, applied, and used every day in every court, all in the pursuit of fairness.”

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Sales Tax Holiday Legislation Good News for Small Business

John Kabateck
California Executive Director, National Federation of Independent Business

Every once in a while, a piece of legislation comes along that restores my hope in the elected bodies in Sacramento. Legislation that proves that they are indeed listening and care about our state’s number one job creators. Proof that they not only talk the talk, but walk the walk.

Assembly Bill 1280 by Assemblyman Brian Maienschein is one of those bills. This NFIB/CA-sponsored bill would establish a sales tax holiday for small businesses on the first Saturday following Thanksgiving, also known as Small Business Saturday, when consumers are encouraged to shop at their local mom and pop stores. To qualify, a business would have had to collect less than $200,000 in sales taxes the previous year.

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Beyond Vergara

Larry Sand
President of the California Teachers Empowerment Network

Last year, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu ruled that California’s archaic seniority, tenure, and dismissal statutes were unconstitutional, adding that the evidence submitted by the plaintiffs “shocks the conscience.” The state and two teachers unions, the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers, are appealing Treu’s decision in Vergara v. California. Should the judgment survive the appeals process, legislators would need to pass new laws to fill the void. But Republican lawmakers aren’t waiting for a decision, which won’t come down for months—or possibly years.

On March 4, the 28-member Assembly Republican Caucus introduced a half-dozen bills to overhaul the way California’s teachers are hired, assessed, and dismissed. Assembly Bill 1047 by minority leader and Modesto Republican Kristin Olsen, for example, would update the Stull Act, California’s four-decade-old teacher evaluation law that school districts have largely ignored. Olsen’s bill would require that teachers have annual evaluations, replacing an antiquated pass-fail system with four new categories: highly effective, effective, minimally effective, and ineffective.

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Taking It Out on the Little Guy​

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Gov. Jerry Brown has declared that opposition to efforts to reduce carbon emissions “borders on the immoral.” Hesitate though we might to debate Brown, a former Jesuit seminarian, on the nature of divine law, we have to question the “morality” of forcing working California motorists to bear the brunt of the cost of regulations required by Brown’s convictions.

In light of both economic concerns and a more rational understanding of climate change science, other nations and states are rethinking their aggressive policies. But here in California, the reigning political leadership is forcing the middle class and working poor to shoulder almost the entire burden of mankind’s response to climate change.

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Politics in Play if the Supreme Court Throws Out Redistricting Commission

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

An effort by a newly announced coalition supporting California’s redistricting commission may run into some harsh political realities in its quest to keep current congressional lines in place if the United States Supreme Court throws out redistricting commissions in the Arizona State Legislature vs. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission case.

Californians supported two initiatives that took the power of drawing legislative district lines away from elected officials and turned that power over to an independent commission. Proposition 11 in 2008 created the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission to draw state government district lines; Proposition 20 in 2010 added to the Commission’s responsibility drawing congressional districts. The latter measure is the one threatened by the Arizona case. 

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Government Union Wrath Aimed at Democrat

Gloria Romero
Director of Education Reform for the California Policy Center. Former Democratic Majority Leader of the California State Senate.

It didn’t take long for “the brotherhood” of status quo politics to pile on. Within hours of former Assembly member Joan Buchanan having lost her election bid for Northern California’s 7th Senate District seat in last week’s special election to fill the vacancy, she endorsed labor-embraced and fellow Democratic Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord. Together, they joined the panoply of monied special interests led by public sector unions that are largely funding the Democratic Party, to defeat a third Democrat – independent Steve Glazer.

Glazer describes himself as “fiscally conservative, socially progressive.” He is the mayor of Orinda and former political aide to Gov. Jerry Brown. Glazer brandishes “blue” credentials in California, having worked for decades to support Democratic candidates and causes.

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