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Friday Pieces: Perez as Labor Sec.; the Cop Killer Manhunt; A Twist in the LA Mayor’s Debate

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

Rumors circulate that California Assembly Speaker, John Perez, is being considered for President Obama’s cabinet as Labor Secretary. As a Latino and gay, Perez’s appointment would satisfy two of the president’s strongest blocs of supporters. But the job deals with labor and Perez has strong ties there.

I have a small anecdote on his concern for workers.

Perez and I served on two state commissions more than a decade ago – one on state finances (we were appointed by Perez’s cousin, the then Speaker, Antonio Villaraigosa) and one on the initiative process.

After one of the committee sessions in Sacramento, a few of us, maybe six or eight, went for a meal. When the bill came and we all pitched in to cover the bill and tip, the total money on the table exceeded the total bill by a good margin. John, then serving as the political director for the United Food and Commercial Workers union, immediately spoke up and said something like, ‘Instead of refiguring the shares, let’s leave the extra for the waitress. That’s what I always do.’ And, that’s what we did. Laborers will undoubtedly be satisfied if Perez gets the post.

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The huge manhunt for cop killer, Christopher Dorner, occurred the same day that the Los Angeles City Administrative Officer said that if the half-cent sales tax hike on the March 5 ballot does not pass, 500 police officer positions would be cut.

Given the concern for police and the job they do in light of the Dorner’s declaration of war on the police, and the manhunt that has dominated the news in Southern California, one wonders if the story will affect the tax vote.

In 1993, Governor Pete Wilson supported continuing a statewide sales tax and dedicating it for public safety. The week of the election, massive fires roared through parts of Southern California. The tax passed handily.

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At the Los Angeles Mayoral Debate at California State University, Northridge yesterday, the candidates spent time on the city’s budget struggles, projected deficit and tax situation. While all five candidates on stage came out against the proposed city sales tax mentioned above, they had different views on the city’s gross receipts tax for business.

In a twist against type, leading Democratic candidates Wendy Grueul and Eric Garcetti called for the ultimate elimination of the business tax over time. However, the one Republican in the race, attorney Kevin James,  called for re-structuring the business tax as a flat fee tax rather than doing away with it.

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