Why Inverse Condemnation Isn’t That American — and Shouldn’t be Californian, Either

Ruben Barrales
Ruben Barrales serves as president of the Latino Leadership and Policy Forum

The wildfires in Northern California and Southern California late last year were horrific disasters. They leave us mournful, determined to find justice for all those affected and to prevent future tragedies. Many of us are searching for policy solutions to achieve climate resiliency and to build a safe and clean energy future for California.

The Latino Leadership and Policy Forum, which I lead, is proud to partner with hundreds of other organizations, unions, businesses and community leaders in a statewide coalition called BRITE— for “Building Resilient Infrastructure for Tomorrow’s Economy” — to support Gov. Jerry Brown and bipartisan legislators in their work to protect Californians from natural disasters caused by climate change. This includes reforming regulations and laws that govern California’s utilities.

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Businesses Can Help California Schools Train Students for ‘New Collar’ Jobs

Jennifer Ryan Crozier and Loren Kaye
Jennifer Ryan Crozier is president of the IBM Foundation. Loren Kaye is president of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education, a think tank affiliated with CalChamber.

The key to California’s long-term economic growth can be found in the classroom.

Job growth in California has been robust since the last recession. But recently that growth has slowed because of the lack of employable workers. The projected shortage of skilled workers in the state through 2030 is more than a million graduates with bachelor’s degrees as well as hundreds of thousands of workers with two-year associate’s degrees and certificates. Only 39 percent of the state’s workers are trained to the “middle-skill” level, according to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics.

Filling that talent pipeline will be a challenge unless we can better prepare students for 21st century jobs.

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Checking The Math on Cap and Trade, Some Experts Say it’s Not Adding Up

Julie Cart
Reporter, CALmatters

As California accelerates its efforts to reduce greenhouses gases over the next decade, experts are pointing to vulnerabilities in its celebrated cap-and-trade system, weaknesses that could make the state’s goals difficult—even impossible—to reach.

Cap and trade, featuring a market where permission to pollute is bought and sold, is a key mechanism California uses to lower the volume of harmful discharges by industries that are subject to state emissions caps. But as the California Air Resources Board ponders a major retrofitting of the highly complex program, state analysts say that in a little over a decade emissions could soar much higher than the legally binding level.

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Transforming Justice vs. Toughening Punishment Battle for Supremacy in 2018 Elections

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

The growing movement to reform the justice system will clash with efforts to be tougher on crime in this election year. The change movement is highlighted by deep-pocketed support for district attorney candidates who are inclined to see the justice system as too hard in meting out punishment, especially to people of color. On the other hand, a sense of rising crime is leading to an effort to reform the reforms passed by voters earlier in the decade that allow some arrested criminals to avoid punishment.

In a ground-up movement to change the system, liberal billionaire George Soros is funding a number of DA challengers throughout California. He supplied money to try and unseat district attorneys in Alameda, Sacramento and San Diego counties by replacing them with candidates more in line with the movement to end mass incarcerations and re-do the justice system.

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State Says New Homes Must Have Solar Panels

Timothy L. Coyle
Consultant specializing in housing issues

Turning a deaf ear to the new housing costs its decision would generate, a state panel recently ruled that beginning in 2020 all new homes built in California must include solar rooftops.  The action by the five-member California Energy Commission (CEC) makes good on a decades-long threat that the mandate was coming.

But, is this mandate as good as we can get?  Especially given the exorbitant cost of putting solar on every new house?

Estimates are that new solar systems cost anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 per home.  According to the CEC directive, the total cost will be absorbed by state homebuilders – which surely means it will be passed on to consumers, already suffering from housing-price sticker shock.

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California’s Transportation Future – Next Generation Vehicles

Ed Ring
Ed Ring is the vice president of research policy for the California Policy Center.

The next generation of vehicles will transform transportation in several fundamental ways. What is coming will be as revolutionary in our time as the transition from horses to horseless carriages was over a century ago. Some increments of this dawning revolution are already here in realized products. Electric drivetrains. Collision avoidance systems. Self-driving cars. Cars on demand. Aerial drones. Nearly all of the enabling technology for this dawning revolution is already here. Artificial intelligence. Visual recognition and sensor systems that use radar, sonar and LIDAR laser scanning. Mapping capabilities. GPS. Data collection. Memory chips. Communications systems. And every one of these technologies, along with investment capital, more than anywhere else, is concentrated in California.

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Consider All Angles When Voting for a Judge

Tom Manzo
President, Timely Prefinished Steel Door Frames and President and Chairman of the Board at California Business and Industrial Alliance

I am an outsider looking in and brand new to the political scene in our great state. I recently formed a non-profit, the California Business & Industrial Alliance (CABIA), to focus on labor law reform. My experience has always been running and growing businesses, and recently the company I run was hit with a PAGA (private Attorney General Act) lawsuit and cost us over one million dollars. Our violation? “Late” lunches that were requested by employees, and miscalculated safety incentives.

There were over 8,000 PAGA lawsuits filed last year and the number continues to grow. The incentive for trial attorneys to take advantage of the law is overwhelming, and they’ve done so with great gusto. Minor workplace violations have become a big payday for the plaintiffs bar and one of the more-lucrative types of labor-related lawsuits.

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Gov. Brown Knows Political Stunts

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

Gov. Jerry Brown visited Los Angeles Friday to urge defeat of an initiative to repeal the gas tax. During his talk he called the initiative effort a “political stunt” and “devious, deceptive, unfair and un-Californian.” Interesting, considering that Brown, himself, is an expert at getting the political edge.

Let’s put aside a discussion of the merits of SB 1, the gas tax increase measure and the projects it will fund and discuss Brown’s rhetoric in hopes of defeating the tax repeal.

Brown’s invective was referring to the strategy by Republican members of Congress who helped qualify the initiative with the idea that it might draw Republican voters to the polls who might help hold Republican congressional seats.

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To Address Gender Inequality, the State Can Start With Its Youngest Kids

Camille Maben and Jim Wunderman
Camille Maben is the Executive Director of First 5 California, which helped sponsor the Bay Area Council Economic Institute Workplace Connections study. Jim Wunderman is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Bay Area Council.

Since last fall, we have watched along with the rest of America as the #MeToo and TIME’S UP movements have focused attention on the long-simmering and destructive gender inequities in workplaces across America: from movie sets to office buildings and State legislatures. The women who are speaking up are being rightly hailed as brave and inspiring heroes. However, as powerful as these tectonic shifts in workplace culture are, culture change will not happen without accompanying reforms in business practices and public policy.

A next step is to hail everyday heroes tackling unacceptable gender inequities in their workplace—the institutional workplace culture—that does not recognize or support raising young children and the modern needs of working parents. A culture that does not support new parents creates gender inequities harming parents, children, and predominantly, women.

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You Too Can Be Austin Beutner

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)

No Californian is more inspiring than Austin Beutner.

The Los Angeles investment banker has gone straight to the top of four major civic institutions in the last decade. And he didn’t have to pay his dues at any of them.

It started in late 2009 when Beutner, having decided to devote himself to public service after a bicycle accident, convinced Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to appoint him as first deputy mayor of the city of L.A., despite his lack of prior experience in local government. Four months into that stint, he was named interim general manager of L.A.’s famous Department of Water and Power—without experience in engineering or utilities.

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