Long Alliance of Democrats and Police Union Erodes

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

California’s crime rates soared in the 1970s and became a potent political issue that Republicans used, with great effect, against Democrats by accusing them of being soft on crime. More or less simultaneously, a Democratic Legislature and governor, Jerry Brown, enacted collective bargaining for California’s public employees. Those two seemingly discrete events spawned a clever […]

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L.A. Unified Digs a Deeper Hole

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

The union that represents teachers in the state’s largest school district, Los Angeles Unified, is claiming that its six-day strike produced a victory, and local media are echoing that line. It may be, however, a pyrrhic victory because it could drive LA Unified, which is already in a deep financial hole, mostly of its own […]

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Finally, a Crackdown on Misuse of Taxpayer Money

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Although state law specifically prohibits public officials from using taxpayers’ money for political campaigning, they have been doing exactly that throughout California. Local governments hire “consultants” to poll voters on what tax and bond measures they would find acceptable, to draft those proposals accordingly and, finally, to run so-called “information” campaigns to persuade voters to […]

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Legislature, Newsom have an Ambitious Agenda

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

The Legislature reconvened this week with Democrats celebrating sweeping election wins that give them immense majorities in both sides of the Capitol and they are intending to use them. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom presided over the state Senate’s opening session, saying, “the world is looking to us.” Newsom will be inaugurated as governor a month […]

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Where Do Middle-of-the-Road Voters Go Now?

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

California Democrats’ massive victory in last month’s election made their party even more dominant at all levels of government and in doing so, confined Republicans to relatively tiny redoubts, mostly in rural areas. Calmatters political writer Ben Christopher summarized the GOP’s exile last week in this sentence: “This year, 26 percent of Californians are represented […]

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Is a Deal Possible on Split-Roll Property Tax Measure?

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

The stage is seemingly set for a very expensive political battle in 2020 over changing Proposition 13, the iconic property tax limit that California voters enacted 40 years ago. A coalition of civic and stakeholder groups, led by the League of Women Voters and  calling itself “Schools and Communities First,” has qualified an initiative ballot […]

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Officials Walk Fine Line on Using Public Funds for Campaigns

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

There is “a fine line public agencies, officials and employees walk between legally disseminating information and illegally advocating for or against a ballot measure or candidate” under California law. That’s the opening of an article in publicceo.com, a website devoted to governmental management, written by two lawyers well-versed in the subject. The article, essentially a […]

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Locals Seek New Levies Despite $4B Property Tax Surge

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Local government officials throughout the state got some very good financial news when county tax assessors toted up changes in taxable property values for their 2018-19 budgets. The state’s uber-strong real estate market generated a 6.51 percent increase in those values, adding another $374 billion to the property tax rolls and pushing the total to […]

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Changing Election Rules to Change Election Results

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Clay Matthews, the Green Bay Packers’ much-feared linebacker, was penalized after a hard tackle on Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith on Sept. 23, running afoul of new league rules aimed at protecting Smith and other QBs from injury. It was the second straight week that Matthews had been ticketed for making hard tackles on quarterbacks […]

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California Schools Face Bleak Financial Future

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

A team of researchers managed by Stanford University and Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) recently released a massive study of California schools’ successes and shortcomings. It concluded that for California’s elementary and secondary schools to reach academic performance goals, the state should expand education into early childhood, prior to kindergarten, and raise overall school spending […]

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