The 2014 Primaries: Crushing The Tea Party

Tony Quinn
Political Analyst

The 2014 primaries are now pretty much over and the Tea Party has lost every contest where it tried to oust an incumbent Republican.  As a political force in America, the Tea Party now is only a shadow of its former self, although the more liberal media will likely continue to prop it up to embarrass Republicans.

Early in the cycle Tea Party allied groups selected six GOP senators and one congressman for defeat, claiming they were all too “moderate.”  Their biggest target was Sen. Thad Cochran in Mississippi, but they also went after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Congressman Mike Simpson of Idaho.  They also tried to nominate Tea Party types for the Senate in Georgia, North Carolina and Oklahoma.  They fell short in every race.

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High Speed Rail Leaves African-Americans At The Station: Black Firms Awarded Only 3% Of Contracts Dollars

Aubry Stone
President of the Black Chamber of Commerce

One of the selling points of the bullet train was that the California High Speed Rail Project would result in contracts and jobs desperately needed throughout the state. African-Americans praised the Project’s potential economic impact as their unemployment is twice the state average and in some cities almost triple.

After officially filing a complaint with the Federal Rail Administration that resulted in the Rail Authority being required to set disadvantaged business enterprise (ethnic minorities and women) contract goals, many thought this would heighten opportunities for African-Americans. Not so according to three reports filed by the Rail Authority to the Federal Rail Administration. Just under $38 million via five (5) contracts were awarded to African-American firms between 2012-2014. During that same period, the Rail Authority awarded over $1.13 billion through 106 contracts.

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Higher Education Funding is Unfinished Business for State Legislature

Dick Ackerman and Mel Levine
Dick Ackerman and Mel Levine co-chair the California Coalition for Public Higher Education. Ackerman is a former California State Senator and Assemblyman, and Levine is a former U.S. Congressman and State Assemblyman.

Speaker of the Assembly Toni Atkins and her colleagues in the Assembly Budget Committee deserve kudos for passing SB872 to restore $100 million in desperately needed funding for California State University and the University of California. The Senate Budget Committee, in rejecting SB 872, got it wrong.

Speaker Atkins understands public higher education is our engine for growth and opportunity, and we applaud her leadership, along with her colleagues. The State Senate needs to follow suit. This leaves public higher education funding as a major piece of unfinished business for the state Legislature before August 31.

Here’s the background. The 2014-15 State Budget deal signed by Governor Brown proposed one-time additional monies for UC and CSU that would be triggered should the state receive higher than anticipated property tax revenues. Well, the state’s General Fund balance did receive a $400 million surplus from streams other than property taxes. Atkins is advocating restoration of the funding.

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LA: America’s Most Hostile Work Environment?

Jack Humphreville
LA Watchdog writer for CityWatch, President of the DWP Advocacy Committee, Ratepayer Advocate for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and Publisher of the Recycler

In January, the LA 2020 Commission’s report, A Time for Truth, pointed out that the City of Los Angeles had 10% fewer jobs than two decades ago despite a 30% increase in its population.  We also have one of the highest rates of unemployment in the country with almost 20% of our residents living in poverty.

Good paying manufacturing and entertainment industry jobs have been replaced with jobs in the “relatively low-wage fields of education services, healthcare, and hospitality.”  As a result, median income is lower today than it was in 2007.  At the same time, major corporations like ARCO, Union Oil, Northrup Grumman, and Boeing have been acquired or moved to more business friendly environments.

You would think that job creation would be Job Number One for the City Hall. 

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A Brown-Kashkari Debate – If Only

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

It may not exactly be the Lincoln-Douglas debates, but a Brown-Kashkari debate would be worth watching. The Kashkari campaign issued a press release last week saying that candidate Kashkari has agreed to five debate invitations yet Governor Brown has not accepted any.

Debates have come a long way since the legendary confrontation between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas vying for a United States Senate seat in Illinois. It can safely be said that the modern debate would not resemble those debates of the 1850s because as a nation we’ve lost attention span for such debates. The Lincoln-Douglas debates, which were more or less stump speeches, lasted three hours.

In the age of Twitter, modern debates are shorter, sharper, but rarely offer deep policy discussions. However, you can find similarities to those long ago Illinois debates, which contained humor, insults, and verbal dodges.

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The Water Bond…Letting Go Of The North South Divide

Billie Greer
President, Southern California Leadership Council

In the nick of time, the legislature and the Governor have produced a $7.5 billion water bond proposal for voter consideration in November.  There is a lot to love in this proposal.  Capturing and storing water during wet years, knowing that droughts are a given.  Cleaning up our water supplies to ensure safe drinking water, along with recycling and conservation, among other efforts. That’s the good news.  The uncertain news is — Will the proposal rekindle the water wars of the past as the ballot measure campaign moves forward?

Three years ago, in Fox & Hounds, I referenced the renowned film Chinatown, starring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway, which was based in part on real events that fostered water wars when William Mulholland acted on behalf of Los Angeles interests to secure water rights in Northern California.  The main character in the film is L.A. Detective Jake Gittes who uncovers a vast conspiracy focused on the supply of water, overlaid with state and municipal corruption, with a least one murder thrown into the mix.  Although this film was set in the early 1900s there are still people today who remain convinced that the Southland is stealing Northern California’s water.  California’s history is steeped in water (no pun intended) and it was all about Who Has the Water?  Who Wants the Water?  And, Who is Going to Get It?

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Three Ways To Ensure California’s Prosperity Emerge From CA Economic Summit’s Capitol Day

Justin Ewers
Research Associate,

Three big themes emerged from Tuesday’s California Economic Summit Capitol Day, where more than 250 civic leaders representing the state’s diverse regional economies met with lawmakers and state officials to discuss how to build on the success of the Summit’s statewide prosperity strategy. This action plan, shaped by participants in last November’s Summit, outlines how regional and state leaders can work together to support the training of California workers for the 21st-century economy, make the promise of sustainable, affordable communities a reality, and champion long-term investments in the state’s transportation infrastructure, water systems, and unparalleled working landscapes.

It’s a big agenda, and by necessity. “Your goal—economic prosperity, environmental quality, and expanding opportunity for everyone—is right on target,” Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins told Summit leaders Tuesday. “I believe one of our most important jobs in the Capitol is finding the right balance, a balance where California has a strong business climate that generates jobs and revenue, where we’re also safe, healthy, and financially able to live, work, and raise our families. That’s really it. The solutions aren’t so easy.”

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California Drought: How To Share An Emergency

Matthew Fienup teaches graduate econometrics and works for the Center for Economic Research and Forecasting at California Lutheran University. Bill Watkins is a professor at California Lutheran University and runs the Center for Economic Research and Forecasting.

California has big troubles. It hasn’t rained for two years. Our reservoirs are almost depleted. Our aquifers are being overdrawn. Forecasts for next winter’s rain, which were optimistic not long ago, have become increasingly pessimistic.

Of course, everybody knows California is in a drought. So, California is doing things. We have education programs. We have shaming apps and neighbors reporting on neighbors. We have fines for water wasters. We have Water Cops. We have the Lawn Dude.

Still, Californians underestimate the drought’s total cost.

The drought’s environmental costs are especially underappreciated. It is an environmental disaster. When water gets tight, fish, birds, and other wildlife suffer. We see increasing numbers of confrontations between snakes and predators, like mountain lions and bears, and people. Animals l ose most of these confrontations. In some areas, we are losing entire riparian and wetland ecosystems.

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No-Frills Bond Has Necessary Water Storage Component

Senator Bob Huff
Senate Republican Leader, representing the 29th Senate District covering portions of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino Counties

I’m pleased with the actions taken by Republicans and Democrats to forge a bipartisan compromise on a water bond that will appear on this November’s ballot. The $7.5 billion dollar plan is important for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, while we’ve passed five or so “water” bonds in the past 15 years in the amount of $19 billion dollars, this is the first recent bond that actually contains significant funding for new water storage. This is money that will be matched with federal and local funds to build two new reservoirs – one in Northern California and the second on the San Joaquin River in Central California.

Republicans have consistently said that new storage is essential for providing a reliable water source.

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Water Bond Proves No Need for California Forward’s 3-Day Rule

Steven Maviglio
Principal of Forza Communications, a Sacramento-based public affairs/campaign firm

It’s done. A multi-billion dollar water bond, the result of several weeks of compromising, posturing, and in the end, bipartisan cooperation the likes of which we haven’t seen in Sacramento in quite some time.

Legislators should be proud of what they’ve accomplished — and how they did it. The back-and-forth — right up until the final hours before a deadline to appear on the November ballot –made it a package that might well win the approval of voters.

This is how the legislative process works: the sausage-making, the press conferences, the shuttling between the Governor’s office and legislative offices, making concessions to get things done. Sometimes it’s not pretty. But it works.

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