With a Heavy Heart, We Must Move Forward

Robert Hertzberg
State Senate Majority Leader representing the San Fernando Valley, Senate District 18

I write today with a heavy heart. The tragic events in Minneapolis couldn’t help but bring to mind another video, taken right here in the San Fernando Valley, nearly 30 years ago. From the looks of it, nothing has changed since Rodney King was beaten nearly to death by men who had sworn to protect and serve. The grave injustice of their acquittal tore our city to pieces.  

Are we really right back where we started? Just the thought is heartbreaking.  

But here is where we find ourselves. The road to justice and equality is longer than we thought ? much, much longer.

What are we to do? Stop and pause and weep? For a moment, yes. But then, we must take the next step. And the next. And the one after that.  

Our Valley, our nation and indeed our world grieves today. Some have turned to rage, which can only lead to more pain and injustice.

Read comments Read more

The role of California’s National Guard in protests

Elizabeth Castillo
CalMatters Reporter

As Californians continue to protest the death of George Floyd and what it signifies about broader racism, thus far the mayors of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Sacramento have requested — and received from Gov. Gavin Newsom — a contingent of National Guard troops. But that seemed insufficient to satisfy President Donald Trump, who denounced the sometimes violent protests and threatened to send military troops if states fail to make full use of their National Guards. Here’s what to know about the Guard and its role in California. 

Who they are: 

Read comments Read more

Did Ballot Harvesting Impact March 3 Bond and Tax Proposals?

Edward Ring
Edward Ring is a co-founder and senior fellow at the California Policy Center

According to the current elections code, mailed in ballots are counted as long as they are postmarked by election day, and arrive up to three days later. In practice, this translates into final results in close elections being delayed for several weeks.

California’s election code also permits so-called “ballot harvesting,” which is alleged to swing the results of close elections. And unless, at the very least, both candidates and parties have equally effective voter harvesting operations, why wouldn’t it?

The process works this way: A campaign operative canvasses a neighborhood in the days prior to an election. Armed with a cell phone app that identifies which households have voters that are registered with the candidate’s party, they only knock on those doors.

Read comments Read more

A New Crisis Rages On Top of the Pandemic

Richard Rubin
Attorney Richard Rubin has taught at the University of San Francisco, Berkeley and Golden Gate University, is a regular columnist for the Marin Independent Journal and was Chair of the California Commonwealth Club Board of Governors, 2017-2019.

We are once again grappling with national outrage as well as lamentable and inexcusable violence ignited by the video-captured killing of a black man in Minneapolis over the passing of a $20 bad check. 

In Los Angeles, Santa Monica, San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland Sacramento and cities across the nation, black, brown, white people, young and old, are expressing their grievances with a criminal justice system that keeps coming up short. 

Curfews are now in force in many cities which are being ignored as protests continue. 

The sight of George Floyd’s throat with a knee pressed firmly upon it for nearly nine minutes is undeniable and the righteous anger it provoked across California and a hundred cities is real. 

Law enforcement when it is protecting us is a basic element of every orderly society. When the reckless actions of those entrusted with properly maintaining it leads to chaos and rioting, we get the images that have filled our screens. 

Read comments Read more

Fixing the Business-to-Business Exemption in AB 5

Chris Micheli
Chris Micheli is a Principal with the Sacramento governmental relations firm of Aprea & Micheli, Inc.

Last year’s AB 5 (Gonzalez) codified and expanded the reach of the California Supreme Court’s Dynamex decision. One of the categories of exemptions to the ABC Test set forth in AB 5 is for bona fide business-to-business contracting relationships. As can be seen below in the law’s actual language, this exemption is actually quite difficult to comply with for many businesses and AB 5 should be amended to provide greater flexibility so that existing business relationships are not adversely impacted.

In order for the business-to-business exemption to apply pursuant to AB 5, these relationships must meet the following conditions in order to not be subject to the holding in Dynamex (and instead be subject to the Borello factors for properly classifying workers):

According to AB 5, if a business entity formed as a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, limited liability partnership, or corporation contracts to provide services to another such business, the determination of employee or independent contractor status of the business services provider shall be governed by the Borello factors.

Read comments Read more

California Kids, Use Your Power

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)

Dear California Kids,

Don’t let us adults destroy your futures!

This moment gives you unprecedented power to fix what’s wrong with how California treats kids. I am begging you to use it. 

Before COVID-19, California was shortchanging its 9.1 million children in education and health. Now in crisis, the state’s adults are conspiring to make things even worse—and without consulting you. The governor’s new budget proposal cuts $15.1 billion from schools and guts other programs you depend on. 

But you can stop this—because education can’t restart without your consent. This applies to distance learning, which can’t work if you refuse to sign on to the Internet, as well as to physical school reopenings, which can’t happen unless you agree to return on campus. 

This gives you financial leverage, because California school funding is based on daily attendance. If you stay home, or refuse to open educational apps, school districts won’t have the money operate, because you are absent. 

If schools can’t fully open, neither can the California economy. Checkmate, grownups.

Read comments Read more

L.A. Program May Violate Privacy

Kevin Mitchell
Kevin Mitchell is the founder and chair of the Business Travel Coalition, a Radnor, Pa., organization that represents companies in the managed travel industry.

Whether it’s the 405 Freeway from the San Fernando Valley past LAX continuing down to Long Beach, the 5 Freeway through Burbank and into the heart of Los Angeles, or any other traffic corridor connecting the Valley to the surrounding centers of commerce, normally you’re guaranteed to face some of the worst traffic congestion in the country. It’s a reality Californians have learned to live with because transportation – whether it’s a morning commute or a delivery route – drives the economy and our lives in immeasurable ways.

However, as businesses have shuttered their doors and stay-at-home orders remain in effect to curb the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, most travel within the state is at a standstill. Morning commutes are temporarily a forgotten practice, offices belonging to the largest employers in the state have locked their doors, and businesses are adjusting to new challenges created by teleworking. In short, non-essential travel between the Valley, the rest of Los Angeles, and other surrounding areas is at its lowest level in recent memory.

Yet in the midst of all this, when public forums are closed and Californians cannot freely move through the state, the city of Los Angeles is quietly implementing a surveillance technology that could soon impact the daily operations of countless businesses with employees who regularly travel to or through the city.

Read comments Read more

Will Protests and Riots Bring Change?

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

For the third time in a span of 55 years, major confrontations with the police have turned violent and ruinous in Los Angeles. In the previous instances, state and city governments created commissions to get to the riots’ root causes and to offer recommendations for change so that similar instances would never happen again. But it has happened again, begging the question, will follow-up attention to these protests and riots, even if considered separately, bring different outcomes?

The commissions that followed the Watts Riots of 1965 and the Rodney King-police verdict inspired protests in 1992 actually had different goals. The McCone Commission, created by Governor Pat Brown in 1965, and headed by former CIA director John McCone, focused on the living conditions of the African American community. The Christopher Commission, created by Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, and headed by future United States Secretary of State and influential Los Angeles attorney Warren Christopher, aimed at the culture and actions of the Los Angeles Police Department.

The McCone Commission recommended that the riots’ causes of high unemployment, poor schools and inferior living conditions be met with literacy and preschool programs, job-training and increased low-income housing, upgraded health services, more public transportation and better community-police ties.

Read comments Read more

State Can Continue Stopping Tax Fraud Without Deputizing Private Lawyers

Ben Lee
CalTax Tax Counsel.

California tax agencies are known for aggressive enforcement of tax laws, so it was surprising when two state officials recently claimed government tax collectors aren’t up to the job, and more profit-seeking private lawyers should be allowed to jump into the tax-enforcement business.

That was the message in an event by Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Assembly Member Mark Stone promoting Assembly Bill 2570, which would extend California’s False Claims Act to issues already vigilantly enforced by the tax agencies.

The False Claims Act allows profit-seeking attorneys to sue people and collect damages if they win. The law currently doesn’t apply to tax disputes because state tax collectors already prosecute personal and corporate income tax fraud, and crack down on anyone who attempts to evade sales tax or other taxes.

Individuals and businesses that don’t strictly follow tax laws are penalized heavily. The Franchise Tax Board has an assortment of 79 penalties, including a fraud penalty imposed at 75 percent of the disputed amount (in addition to the actual tax liability), and large penalties for missing deadlines to file and pay income taxes. Many of the penalties can be enforced even if the taxpayer made a good-faith attempt to comply with the law.

Read comments Read more

Now Is Time for State to Be Flexible

Stuart Waldman
President, Valley Industry & Commerce Association

I don’t think any of us truly believed we would be living through this unimaginable time. As the weeks and months continue to pass us by, we are given time to reflect and time to think about how we will move forward.

The business community has been hit incredibly hard by the economic impacts of COVID-19. While essential businesses have been allowed to continue operating, several other businesses that I know in and outside of the San Fernando Valley have either been forced to shut down or are barely surviving.

As decision makers begin looking at how to safely reopen the economy, the Valley Industry and Commerce Association and the business community will remain a partner to ensure we revitalize employment and revitalize the investment and dynamic economic activity that are the hallmarks of the Golden State.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has shown tremendous leadership during this public health crisis and while there are many who may not be keen on his decisions, we must recognize that lives have been lost and many more would have been lost if we had not taken the measures and precautions put forth by the governor.

As we look at recovery, the governor and legislature have shifted the focus of the state budget and other legislative actions to core issues related to COVID-19 recovery.

Read comments Read more

Please note, statements and opinions expressed on the Fox&Hounds Blog are solely those of their respective authors and may not represent the views of Fox&Hounds Daily or its employees thereof. Fox&Hounds Daily is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the site's bloggers.