Accountability depends on transparency, which is under siege

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

If we – the California public – are to hold politicians and other government officials accountable, we must first know what they are doing or not doing. Thus, the first point of conflict is always access to records of official action or inaction. The current legislative session is the first one affected by a 2016 ballot […]

Read more

California unions on a political roll, but see threats on horizon

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

California’s labor unions should be celebrating on this Labor Day because they’ve been on a political roll. Overall union membership in California, 2.6 million, is by far the most of any state, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, and at 15.9 percent of the state’s workers, is one of the nation’s highest. Over half of […]

Read more

Could uptick in California crime make it a political issue again?

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

In the main, issues that dominate any session of the California Legislature reflect what the public and news media consider at the time to be the most burning. That’s why, for instance, the state’s acute housing shortage will receive much attention during the final month of this year’s session. During Jerry Brown’s first governorship four […]

Read more

Fake News: California voting rolls are riddled with ineligible voters

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Travis Allen, a Republican assemblyman from Orange County and self-anointed candidate for governor, dropped this Twitter bomb the other day: “11 counties in California have more total registered voters than citizens over the age of 18. How is this possible?” As a matter of fact, it isn’t possible. Allen’s tweet just parrots a subtle falsehood […]

Read more

California politicians lured by easy money, but somebody must eventually pay

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

The late Glenn Frey’s song about the international drug trade, “Smuggler’s Blues,” contains a phrase that resonates in politics as well: “It’s the lure of easy money, it’s got a very strong appeal.” Politicians are habitually lured by easy money, which is defined as money they can spend without directly taxing their constituents, but somebody […]

Read more

Will California politicians really address housing crisis or settle for tokenism?

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Having checked gas taxes and cap-and-trade off their 2017 agenda, California political leaders will turn to the state’s housing crisis after a month-long midsummer vacation. It’s high time, because California is building barely enough new housing to handle current population growth and making no dent in a years-long backlog. Between 2003 and 2014, California built […]

Read more

Democrats hurt by gerrymandered congressional districts, but not in California

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Belatedly – and only after they had lost control of Congress to Republicans – the national Democratic Party grasped the impact of how state legislatures redraw congressional districts after each decennial census. A consortium of Republican and conservative interest groups had methodically set out to capture state legislatures and governorships in anticipation of redistricting after […]

Read more

Despite Proposition 13, California property tax revenue has soared

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Much has been said and written – mostly negatively – about the effects of Proposition 13, California’s iconic law limiting property taxes. Its critics say that Proposition 13, which restricts taxes to 1 percent of property values and caps increases in those values at 2 percent a year, has starved schools and local governments of vital […]

Read more

Officials gamble with the public’s money, and sometimes lose big

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Voice of San Diego, a journalistic website that covers local politics, published a remarkable article late last month about financial shenanigans in the San Diego Association of Governments, a regional planning and transportation agency. Twelve years ago, the article said, SANDAG, as it’s known, decided to invest – or wager – millions of dollars from […]

Read more

As California Legislature divides on universal health care, Rendon does the right thing

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Except for one year, two-plus decades ago, Democrats have controlled both houses of the California Legislature for nearly a half-century. Moreover, most members of the Senate are former members of the Assembly, so one might assume that the two houses are in synch and so duplicative that it might as well be a one-house Legislature. […]

Read more