Gay Weddings & Wedding Crashers

Public Affairs Consultant specializing in Issue Advocacy and Strategic Communications

In a Forest Gump moment, I happened to be in Mayor Villaraigosa’s office waiting for a meeting with his staff yesterday when I noticed a gaggle of reporters in his press room and champagne glasses near the podium.

As it turned out, I was about to witness the mayor preside over his first same-sex marriage when I was escorted to a conference room for my meeting. Apparently, I missed the rude wedding crasher who calmly stepped up to the podium after the ceremony and announced her opposition to gay marriage and added some inappropriate comments about the mayor.

This self-described “angel of the Trinity” later informed reporters that California would soon be punished for our Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriages through a series of earthquakes and floods. (Thankfully, my homeowners’ insurance covers both).

Unlike some of the “bridezillas” you see on TV these days, this happy couple laughed it off. Good for them in not letting this uninvited guest ruin their wedding day. Like anyone, I am sure that they were annoyed with the intolerant tone of the interruption, but they handled it with class.

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Closer to the Bottom

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

If all economic news is bad news, this item won’t disappoint.

April’s S&P Case-Shiller home price index was released yesterday, showing that home prices in 20 major U.S. cities have dropped a record 15.3% in the past year and are now back to where they were in 2004. But in what may be a small sign that things are at the brink of a turnaround elsewhere in the country, three of the major metropolitan areas studied — while still posting negative annual figures — did show some improvement over the declines reported last month. And eight of the 20 metro areas covered showed home-price growth in April from March.

No silver lining for major California metro areas; the drop was much worse than the national average, and worse than last month’s year-over-year report:

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Doomed to failure? Let’s not be so quick to judge.

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

In response to Joe Mathews’ piece today in which he concludes that Redistricting is doomed to failure, I think there are enough differences in this November’s redistricting initiative effort that it does have a chance of passing.

The Democratic Party has officially come out against the measure, but they’ll have their hands full explaining their position. On one hand, they are trumpeting the campaign of Barack Obama who calls for change and undoing the old partisan wars, and on the other, they are defending the status quo of a very partisan current redistricting system.

And, the campaign for the initiative won’t seem as partisan as some Democratic Party leaders will try to make it. A number of groups that often align themselves with the Democrats have endorsed this initiative. So have some visible Democratic politicians such as Steve Westly, and I don’t think he will be the only one.

Political scientists often say that when voters look around at measures they are not sure about, they often take a cue from endorsements they trust. In this case, many Democratic voters will respect the opinion of these groups and individual Democratic leaders who choose to endorse the measure.

History says that your conclusion is right, Joe, since so many redistricting reform measures have failed in California in the past. However, this year could be different. This redistricting initiative will be a good test to see if “change” is truly in the air.

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Does Obama’s Candidacy Mean we’ve Overcome?

Guest Author and Vice President of Community Advocates Inc.

Barack Obama, a self-identified Black man, is the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee for the upcoming presidential election in November. Despite all the naysayer arguments that he couldn’t win the nomination, either because he wasn’t black enough for black voters, or the he wasn’t experienced enough for white voters, he has in fact won the nomination. Does this make for a watershed moment in American history? Is it evidence of sorts that America has finally overcome its shameful treatment of black Americans?

The issue of the nation overcoming its past is no small matter. Many contemporary civil rights leaders, national as well as local, have hung their careers on the vitality of racism, and many have made the case that racism will always be with us. Some, like the New York University law professor Derrick Bell, a major force in something called “critical race theory,” argue that racism is the bedrock of nearly all that America is and does. Racial advocates such as Bell and others argue that racism has simply become subtle and has “gone underground,” all the while continuing to stunt the life opportunities of black Americans.

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Redistricting is doomed to failure

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)

Here are some immutable truths about California. The sun sets gloriously in the West. The Clippers lose more games than they win. And redistricting ballot initiatives fail.

The measure was doomed the moment the California Democratic Party opposed it last weekend. The Democrats will call it partisan, and it will go down in the Obama onslaught. To have any chance at succeeding, a redistricting initiative needs more than bipartisan support. It needs partisan acquiescence. And this measure doesn’t have that.

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Mandatory Sick Leave Bill Leaves 370,000 Californians Jobless

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

Today, NFIB Research Foundation released a study that shows the paid sick leave mandate proposed in AB 2716 by Assembly Member Fiona Ma would result in the loss of 370,000 California jobs over the next five years. AB 2716 will force all employers to provide paid sick leave for all employees regardless of whether or not employers can afford to pay for it.

How much will paid sick leave cost California businesses? According to the Research Foundation study, $4.6 billion and will disproportionately affect small businesses in California. What is worse is that these businesses will have less money to pay for the mandated benefit as the new law would cost California firms an estimated $59.3 billion in sales over the first five years of enactment, and more than half of that will be losses to small businesses.

One question comes to mind: Is this really the time to pile additional mandates on the job creators of California? The Legislature is currently trying to find a solution to California’s massive deficit – at last count, it was somewhere in the neighborhood of $16 or $17 billion. Now is the time our leaders should be looking at ways to stimulate the growth of small businesses in California by allowing them to do what they do best – create jobs and employ people in the communities where they live.

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Is Arnold Schwarzenegger the most conservative, anti-tax governor in the history of California?

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)

Those who followed the recent California Forward panel, and accompanying LA Times pieces, on how four previous governors — Earl Warren, Pat Brown, Ronald Reagan and Pete Wilson — resolved budget difficulties might have reached that conclusion. A different author described how each governor had had the courage to raise revenues to support a growing state.

The tax numbers on Reagan, offered by biographer Lou Cannon, are jarring in light of today’s debate. Please tell the Republican kids, if there are any Republican kids anymore. Taxes on corporations went from 5.5 to 9 percent; the tax on banks from 9.5 percent to 13 percent, and the highest rate on personal come tax jumped from 7 percent to 11 percent.

If Reagan rose from the dead and tried that today, Republican lawmakers would shun him, and every anti-tax group in the state would be racing to the attorney general’s office with recall papers.
What about other governors? Deukmejian held the line, sort of. He supported a temporary sales tax increase that was repealed — because of a surging economy — before it ever had to go into effect. Gray Davis cut taxes at first, but then raised the dreaded vehicle license fee, or "car tax."

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Environmental Elitism: America’s New Religion

Patrick Dorinson
Host of The Cowboy Libertarian Radio Talk Show in Sacramento

The other day President Bush called for more exploration of America’s domestic oil reserves including off the coast of California and ANWR in Alaska. In my opinion this was long overdue but better late than never.

Our esteemed Senator Feinstein immediately went before the cameras waving the “bloody shirt” of the 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill saying to the Associated Press,"Californians are all too familiar with the consequences of offshore drilling," Feinstein said. "An oil spill in 1969 off the coast of Santa Barbara killed thousands of birds, as well as dolphins, seals and other marine animals. And we know this could happen again."

That spill happened almost 40 years ago and there have been no major spills from oil platforms off the coast of California since that time. During Hurricanes Rita and Katrina in 2005 the almost 4,000 oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico reported some major damage and many rigs were lost, but there were no major spills.

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Why is everyone so angry?

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

Californians are angry – at least that’s the conventional wisdom.

Surveys by the Public Policy Institute of California and Field Research Corporation find Californians deeply pessimistic: less than a quarter of voters believe the state is heading in the right direction.

Californians are grumpy about the economy, too. Nearly three quarters of adults believe the economy will be in bad times for the next year. Voters have a low opinion of their elected officials and are critical of institutions such as the schools.

But just how deeply entrenched is this anger?

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The LA Teachers’ Walkout from a Teacher’s Point-of-View

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

This site has featured commentaries from two of our bloggers (Joe Mathews and Matt Klink) on the one hour walkout of the Los Angeles teachers union to protest the education funding proposal in the governor’s budget. Now comes a look at this issue — as well as a broader view of teachers’ unions — from an insider. Doug Lasken, an English teacher in the LAUSD, penned this article for the Los Angeles Daily News. It’s well worth the read.

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