We Raise Taxes, Nothing Improves

Charles Crumpley
Editor and Publisher of the San Fernando Valley Business Journal

When California’s gasoline tax went up a few weeks ago, there was a flurry of articles about how state motorists now pay the highest such tax in the country and how gasoline here typically costs $1 a gallon more than most other states.

I wouldn’t mind paying more if I could boast that we have the best streets and highways. Alas, we don’t. Various surveys regularly rank our roads poorly. Just recently, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave California a “D” for our road conditions, saying they are some of the worst in the country.

Excuse me if I’m skeptical that the new gas tax will improve the condition of our streets. After all, the state doesn’t exactly have a sterling reputation when it comes to fulfilling promises from tax proposals. You know, if you agree to raise taxes, we’ll agree to do X.

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In Needles, a ‘sanctuary’ for gun owners—and ‘a little jab in the eyes’ for California

John M. Glionna
Former National Reporter for the Los Angeles Times.

The whole business began with a backyard barbecue.

Tim Terral, a 50-year-old cable company worker recently elected city councilman in Needles, on the rural eastern edge of California, planned a cookout for some buddies who live just over the state line in Arizona.

Nobody wanted to come.

Under California law, they couldn’t bring their loaded firearms across the state line, so they all decided to stay home.

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Tom Steyer Wants a National Referendum

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

I’m trying to imagine how the national referendum proposed by Tom Steyer as part of his presidential platform would work.  He said he trusted the people to make the laws, and that he had success using initiatives in California. Of course, his great wealth spurred those law changes in the Golden State. It would take even more money to campaign for a national initiative.

It is not uncommon for rich individuals, or businesses or labor unions to put an initiative on the California ballot. The same would likely apply nationally; those with the money call the tune. Then again Steyer plans to put a crimp into the abilities of certain interests to get behind a measure-corporations. That is implied in his support to undo the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

Steyer wasn’t clear on the details of his plan. He called it a national referendum. In California, a referendum is a measure to undo laws passed by the legislature. There will be a referendum on the November 2020 ballot to undo a law passed to cut out cash bail for suspects. 

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Dear San Francisco, My heart breaks for you.

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)

I cry tsunamis for you.

Please accept my thoughts and prayers. Depending on which media you read, you are now in collapse, having become either a “hellhole” or a “Third World” city. The Washington Post declared you dead (headline: “San Francisco Broke America’s Heart”), and even the Chronicle says you’re a “mess.” The summer’s best movie laments the departure of your “last black man.”

How does your small and lonely city even manage to get up in the morning and keep going on? 

Maybe that question seems insincere. But for Californians not from San Francisco, the most troubling part of your crisis is that when we look at you—and your beauty and success—we can’t understand what’s wrong. You live in a hell so new that we outsiders can’t contemplate how hot the fires must burn. 

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Soaring Building Costs Are Slowing Housing Recovery

Timothy L. Coyle
Consultant specializing in housing issues

By all accounts, California is in the depths of a crisis.  Affordable housing can’t be found in the state’s growing job centers – enjoying an economic renaissance of sorts but with no place to house a burgeoning workforce.  To preserve that welcome growth, now, more than ever, there is a need to build additional housing, everywhere – paying particular attention to lower-income households.

Surely, lots of local land-use laws and policies will have to change to help accomplish a new level of production.  For starters, zoning rules in some communities will need to be amended to allow for higher densities. However, that, despite the contention of some, doesn’t mean the wholesale destruction of existing single-family homes to make way for high-rise apartments.  Nevertheless, the limited supplies of developable land in some urban areas dictate that some neighborhoods in California will definitely be affected.     

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California Attorney General an unexpected obstacle to police transparency law

Chris Reed
San Diego Union Tribune editorial writer and former host of KOGO Radio’s “Top Story” weeknight news talk show

Appointed to replace newly elected U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris in 2016, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra ran for his own four-year term in 2018 as a supporter of then-Gov. Jerry Brown’s law enforcement and judicial reforms. “California’s Department of Justice has modernized its police force, sponsored state legislation to require an assessment of 2015 and 2016 data related to officer-involved shootings and has explored options for bail reform,” his campaign web page declared. After winning, Becerra made similar claims in a speech at Stanford University.

But to the surprise of many Democrats, the former 12-term congressman has also emerged this year as a persistent, unexpected obstacle to a reform measure that Brown signed before he left office.

Senate Bill 1421, by Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, requires law enforcement agencies to release discipline records related to officers’ excessive use of force, sexual misconduct and dishonest actions. It replaced a previous collection of state laws and court rulings that made it close to impossible for the public to learn about sustained allegations against peace officers.

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Harris and Warren – Laying the Groundwork for a 40-State Trump Landslide

Tony Quinn
Political Analyst

With the likely fading of “Apologizin’ Joe” Biden, the Democratic race seems to be coming down to two women, California Sen. Kamala Harris and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.  But the Democrats should be forewarned; both these women are extremely flawed candidates whose nomination could well lead to a 40-state Trump landslide.

Harris, in her put down of Biden in the first Democratic debate, wrapped herself in the Civil Rights movement as a pioneer in the integration of Berkeley schools.  She also wants a discussion of reparation for slavery. Well, let’s have one, only does Harris fit on the side of slave victims or slave holders? 

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How Not to Pass a Split Roll

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 five steps to take if you don’t want to  pass an initiative to split the tax rolls in service of devoting more money to public schools.

That is, an initiative just like the one that educational interests are preparing to support next November.

  • 1. Divide you coalition of educational interests by attacking charter schools and their passionate supporters.
  • 2. Attack school districts as bloated with waste, that should be going to teacher salaries. Because telling people school districts are wasteful makes the case against more taxes for them.
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Governor Newsom champions measures that would take us back to medieval times

Ronald Stein
Founder and Ambassador for Energy & Infrastructure of PTS Advance, headquartered in Irvine, California

Governor Newsom is vocally supportive of the Green New Deal that would take us back to medieval times. The Governor’s statement on July 12th was scary. He is looking into putting a moratorium on fracking for oil and wants to reduce the state’s reliance on fossil fuels.

The Governor seems to be oblivious to the fact that 100 percent of the industries that use deep earth minerals/fuels to “move things and make thousands of products” to support the economies around the world, are increasing their demand and usage each year of those energy sources from deep earth minerals/fuels, not decreasing it.

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California Can’t Afford To Be An Economic One-Trick Pony

Joel Kotkin & Marshall Toplansky
Joel Kotkin is the editor of NewGeography.com and Presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University and Marshall Toplansky is the Clinical Assistant Professor of Management Science at Chapman University.

For the past decade, the soaring stock prices and nosebleed valuations of Silicon Valley’s IPOs and unicorns has been a boon for California, helping create a record budget surplus of almost $22 billion.

Yet this bonanza has occurred just as the state’s overall job creation, once among the country’s leaders, has slowed to a more middle of the road status, well below the rates for key competitors such as Nevada, Arizona, Washington State and Texas. On a GDP basis, according to the most recent federal data, Texas by the last quarter of 2018 was growing nearly three times as fast.

Slower growth could expose California even more to its growing, and unhealthy, dependence on the relatively small, in terms of employment, tech sector.

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