A Surprise Entry into the Governor’s Race

Scott Lay
Publisher of The Nooner

Yesterday, Amanda Renteria filed to run as a Democrat for governor. If the name sounds familiar, she was the Democratic nominee against David Valadao in the Democrats’ perennial target district of CA21 (Valadao). Following her loss to Valadao, she served as national political director of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Last year, the Stanford and Harvard MBA grad joined Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office as director of operations.

It’s awfully late to be starting a statewide campaign. There are only 111 days before the top two primary election. But, it builds her name recognition and she is the only candidate from the “Valley.”

What it really is, however, is a blow to Democrats Antonio Villaraigosa and Delaine Eastin. It is great news for Gavin Newsom and pretty good news for Republicans.

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Cap and trade is looking more and more like a tax

Susan Shelley
Columnist and member of the editorial board of the Southern California News Group, and the author of the book, "How Trump Won."

The veneer that keeps everybody from seeing that the cap-and-trade program is really just a tax is coming unglued.

Mayor Eric Garcetti blasted out an email newsletter happily announcing that the Jordan Downs public housing development in Watts will be refurbished with money from the hidden tax you’re paying for gasoline and electricity.

Watts will receive a $35 million grant of cap-and-trade funds, which Garcetti said will help make “dreams come true” with “improved quality of life, a renewed focus on public health, and better access to affordable housing.”

The city said the work on Jordan Downs will include rebuilding “distressed” units, creating recreational programs, and opening “about 165,000 square feet for retail.”

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In school superintendent race, it’s Democratic reformer vs. union ally

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

The 2018 race for state superintendent of public instruction may not have an incumbent but is likely to feel like an encore of the 2014 race, pitting a Democrat aligned with the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers against a Democrat who backs reforms opposed by the unions.

In 2014, Tom Torlakson – a former teacher and state lawmaker – won a second term, touting higher graduation rates and somewhat better test scores. He defeated former Los Angeles charter school executive Marshall Tuck 52 percent to 48 percent in a race in which $30 million was reportedly spent, triple the campaign spending in that year’s quiet governor’s race.

With the strong support of wealthy Los Angeles area Democrats who have been fighting for changes in L.A. Unified and who remember the job he did running Green Dot charters, Tuck is running again.

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PAGA Problem Mirrors Workers Comp Before Reform of 2004

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

For the business community, the difficulties of the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) are similar to what business faced under the burden of workers compensation costs over a decade ago. Small businesses particularly had to cope with workers comp costs that stood at twice the national average threatening the viability of many establishments.

While workers comp more universally hit the business community, the threat of million dollar lawsuits over minor labor code infractions generated under the PAGA law is spreading throughout the business community, threatening businesses while offering little to workers.

Technical infractions or misunderstandings of the extensive labor code can result in million dollar lawsuits that threaten a business’s existence while rewarding employees little of the settlement dollars but enrich attorneys who bring the lawsuits.

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New partnership for youth employment and opportunity launched

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

The California Chamber of Commerce and the Linked Learning Alliance have launched a new California network of employer associations committed to advancing youth opportunities and reducing youth unemployment.

The lead organizations, CalChamber and Linked Learning Alliance, bring together six local employer organizations for the network: the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Oxnard Chamber of Commerce, Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce, Chico Chamber of Commerce and the Silicon Valley Organization.

This network, unique in California, is supported by a $150,000 grant from the James Irvine Foundation, a stalwart supporter of linked learning and career pathway approaches for high school students.

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The Failed Promise of High Speed Rail

Morris Brown
Resident of Menlo Park and Founder of DERAIL, a grassroots effort against the California high-speed rail project

“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!“ should be the cry from the voters of California when thinking about the High Speed Rail project.

In 2008, now 10 years ago, voters passed the 10 billion dollar Prop 1A bond measure to fund a High Speed Rail project that would, in phase one, connect San Francisco to Los Angeles, promising passengers a one-seat ride between these cites in 2 hours and 40 minutes.

The train was to run on dedicated tracks and was to be up and running by 2020. The projected cost of $33 billion was to be funded one-third by Prop 1A funds, one-third by Federal funds and one-third by private investment. The voters of California were promised that the $10 billions from Prop 1A bonds would be all the funding required from the State’s residents. Importantly the train was promised to run without any operational subsidy. 

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Pasadena Schools Devour the Future

David Crane
Lecturer and Research Scholar at Stanford University and President of Govern for California

A recent article in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports that Pasadena Unified School District will “cut teachers, security guards, assistant principals and more due to budget woes.”

The article doesn’t outline the causes of those budget woes. Neither does the PUSD website.  But buried deep in the harder-to-find First Interim Reports filed by PUSD for 2017–18 and 2012–13 are two pages (47 and 98, respectively) that reveal at least one big cause: Spending on unfunded pension promises rose 144 percent over that five-year period. That left little for Certificated Teacher Salaries, which grew only five percent.

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The Myth About New Housing Laws

Timothy L. Coyle
Consultant specializing in housing issues

Recently, a prominent periodical hailed last year’s housing legislation as a marvelous thing – that with it will soon come the end of California’s housing crisis.  Similar statements have been made in the few months following the Governor’s signature – including by the Governor himself – on the passage of several new “housing” bills.

“In my mind, this is a really historic day,” said one prominent state senator after her new tax on real estate, a central feature of the housing package, was passed. “Together, we are lifting more of our residents out of poverty,” she added.  Similarly, a leader in the Assembly hailed the passage of the numerous housing bills as “a tremendous accomplishment.” Said he, “we are once again showing that here in California we are stepping up and getting the job done.”

But, for purposes of affecting the state’s housing woes, the legislation doesn’t live up to its hype – far from it.

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Speed Up the Sexual Harassment Investigations

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

The #MeToo crusade has shined a light in the dark corner of American life including California’s state capitol. Accusers’ stories of sexual harassment are believed more readily than in the past and now the accused are immediately ostracized, most stepping back from their jobs while often declaring their innocence. Justice for the victims and proper due process for the accused requires swift action. Yet, the investigations grind slowly. They must be resolved more quickly.

While the legislature sets up procedures to deal with sexual harassment complaints and at the same time tries to create a system that is transparent and independent given that the accused are often colleagues, it leaves both victims of harassment and those who may be wrongly accused frustrated with the lack of resolution.

The accused that declare their innocence (and some perhaps are) are roasted slowly over a fire of public scorn and the victims, who have shown real courage in speaking out, wait in fear of repercussions and uncertainty.

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We Told You So…And Now So Has A Court

Michele Hanisee
President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys

We repeatedly warned prior to the election that the ambiguities of language in Prop 57 would allow sex offenders to be released early from prison. The proponents realized the public wouldn’t support that, so led by Governor Jerry Brown they responded by promising that CDCR would write regulations to make sure sex-offenders weren’t released early. And so they did. CDCR wrote into their regulations that registered sex offenders were excluded from the early release provisions of Prop 57.

We knew that approach would fail, because a regulation cannot expand the scope of the law that it purports to implement. Now, the completely foreseeable result of this poor drafting has occurred. This Friday, a Superior Court struck down CCDR’s after-the-fact attempt to write into the regulations what was not in the underlying law. “The Court cannot insert words into an initiative to achieve what the court presumes to be the voters’ unexpressed intent; neither can CDCR,” said the court.

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