Don’t Let the Water Crisis Get Bad Enough

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Yesterday on this site, Senator Dave Cogdill argued that it is “absolutely essential … that we pass a comprehensive water bond now.” In response, Jon Fleischman on his popular FlashReport website argued that the cost of the bond will be too high if it comes out of the legislature with an environmental agenda from a “Sierra Club wish list.” Instead of acting on a legislative measure now, Jon proposes we wait until the situation gets “bad enough” and then put forth by initiative a cheaper, more directed bond measure dealing exclusively with water storage and conveyance.

It is hard to argue with Jon’s analysis of how money has been ill spent in Sacramento. Government officials have been irresponsible in not adequately funding infrastructure to serve the water needs of the people. But I have problems with his conclusion that we allow the situation to get “bad enough” in hopes that the people will pass a leaner bond measure sometime in the indeterminate future.

While some would argue it is a principled stand to vote against a water bond that doesn’t exclusively provide for more water storage, watching principle crash into reality will not solve the pending water crisis.

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Gay Marriage, the Peripheral Canal … and Bo Derek

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Catching up on a number of items at week’s end …

The Field Poll indicates a close election on Proposition 8, the gay marriage elimination amendment. The poll says as of now 51% oppose the amendment and 42% favor it. Surprisingly, the highest percentage of opposition to this measure was the baby-boomer generation, although by only a close 2% over the 18-29 year olds. Fox & Hounds blogger Joe Mathews has opined that gay marriage will eventually be accepted because of the strong support for the issue by the younger generation, yet here are the baby-boomers leading the way.

There will probably be a number of ballot proposition issues that will go down to the wire in November. Given that the Field Poll says at this point Sen. Obama is ahead of Sen. McCain by 24% in the presidential race, wouldn’t it be ironic if what drove voters to the polls in California this historic election year was not the presidential election but ballot issues?

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Our High Tax, Big Spending, Job-Killing Formula is Not Working

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

I hope legislators taking this week off are reading the newspapers. A number of articles serve as a barometer to California budget troubles. Simply stated, California taxes a lot, spends a lot, doesn’t seem to have much to show for it and jobs and taxpayers are leaving the state.

California gets much of its revenue from allowing business to flourish and to provide good jobs. But by making California an expensive place to do business we are driving the job makers away.

This Oakland Tribune article reports on the Auto Club closing three call centers in Northern and Southern California eliminating 900 jobs. Why? Because according to a spokeswoman from the California State Automobile Association: "It costs more to do business in California than in other states. Moving our call center operations to states outside of California gives us an opportunity to reduce our operating costs."

And with those jobs go the taxes that would have ended up in California government coffers.

Its not just 900 jobs that are leaving. Today’s Wall Street Journal editorial states that between 1996 and 2005, "1.3 million more Americans left than came to California. And the people who are leaving are disproportionately those with higher incomes…"

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Schwarzenegger won’t be headed to D.C. just yet

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Joe Mathews believes, based on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s comments on ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulous, that the governor might consider accepting a position as energy-environment czar in an Obama administration and leave the governorship early.

I don’t think Lt. Gov. John Garamendi should be packing boxes just yet.

Governor Schwarzenegger would be abandoning his supporters in the business community who have worked tirelessly for him if he makes such a move. Often, the Schwarzenegger veto pen is the only thing that stands between the liberal California Legislature and new regulations and fees hoisted on business. A Governor Garamendi would be more accepting of new requirements on business.

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Schwarzenegger/Feinstein Water Bond is Worthy of Consideration

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Water is the lifeblood of California and action needs to be taken to ensure we will have enough water to satisfy the needs of the people and to keep the economy humming. The water bond plan put forth by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Senator Diane Feinstein yesterday is a good proposal worthy of consideration.

California has experienced drought-like conditions for a number of years. In addition, the nearly 50-year old state water infrastructure did not anticipate a population of 38-million people and more.

Improving the water project is one of the crucial improvements the state must undertake – and soon. Conservation is part of the plan but will not be enough to satisfy water needs.

Make no mistake about it, water is vital for economic activity, and not just for farms and corporations but for small businesses and to maintain many jobs. Without adequate water supplies, construction jobs, housing, fishing and other business projects cannot go forward. That’s the way Governor Pat Brown saw it when he put forth the California water project in 1960.

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A Budget Proposal Tower of Babel

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

California operates in a Tower of Babel when it comes to discussing the state budget. When one side does not understand the words and phrases of the other the budget mess is impossible to solve.

Yesterday, the Democrats conference committee released a budget plan that proposes tax increases of $8.2 billion. In the press release issued with details of the plan the Democrats claimed:

The Conference Committee budget is a balanced approach. It closes tax loopholes and rolls back tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy.

Balanced? There is nothing about spending cuts in that paragraph, only raising taxes.

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It’s Prop 13’s Fault—Property Taxes are UP in L.A.

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Everything in California is Proposition 13’s fault – how many times have we heard it? But here’s one time it’s true. Property taxes went UP in Los Angeles County last year … and its Proposition 13’s fault! That’s what the Los Angeles County Assessor Rick Auerbach says in releasing property assessments for the county. In fact, the property tax increase exceeded expectations. While 5% was predicted, property taxes actually climbed 6.9% this year. Here’s a short piece about it in today’s Los Angeles Times.

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Fire and Taxes

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Fires roared out of control across California. Pictures of heroic firefighters battling the blazes appeared on the nightly news and in the newspapers. As it so happened, the fires occurred just a week prior to Californians voting on a measure to raise the state sales tax a half-cent, the revenues to be distributed to local governments for public safety purposes.

This occurred in 1993. In a special election called by Governor Pete Wilson, the voters considered the fate of Proposition 172. The measure was little noticed by the voters until the firestorms hit. A campaign ad in support of the measure was hastily thrown together showing the firefighters standing against the blazes. The tax measure passed with 58% of the vote.

Today as thousands of fires sweep across Northern and Southern California the discussion of fires and taxes is intertwined again. The question is: Will the fires of 2008 lead to tax increases?

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed what he terms a fee on property insurance to be set aside for fire protection. The governor’s proposal would charge policyholders a 1.4 percent surcharge in high fire zones and a .75 percent surcharge in other areas of the state. The fee would raise about $125 million.

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Sign of “The Times”

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

It was disappointing and sad to read that the Los Angeles Times plans to lay off 250 workers, a majority from the editorial side of the paper. The Times troubles are reflected in the plight of other newspapers, which are losing advertising revenue to the Internet.

When one participates in the public arena, as I have for 30 years, you can adopt some bitterness to the press if you feel your efforts have been misread or even trashed by the newspapers.

While Thomas Jefferson is often remembered for saying "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter;" he also wrote: "Perhaps an editor might begin a reformation in some such way as this. Divide his paper into four chapters, heading the first Truths; the second, Probabilities; the third, Possibilities, the fourth, Lies."

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LA Gang Problem Like a Malaria Epidemic Treated with Fly Swatters

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

The gang problem in Los Angeles is spreading and civil rights attorney Connie Rice is working against time to implement a long-term strategy to reduce the violence. Rice told Fox and Hounds Daily she feels the solution has perhaps two years to get in place and start producing results or she fears the gang problem could spin out of control.

At the request of the Los Angeles City Council, Rice undertook a massive study to determine the effectiveness of the city’s anti-gang efforts. Eighteen months ago she released the “Gang Activity Reduction Strategy Report” done on behalf of the Advancement Project, which Rice co-directs. The report concluded that too many anti-gang programs were scattered under too many different authorities to have any effect. Further, she argued trying to confront the gang problem simply by relying on police force would fail.

“If you look at this as a public disease it would be the same as looking a malaria epidemic and handing out fly swatters,” she said. “If you have a malaria epidemic and you’re in the malaria zone you have to organize your entire ecosystem to fight that disease or it will wipe your population out. “

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