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Can a Higher Minimum Wage Lower Your Quality of Life?

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)

Will you actually be richer when your pay is raised to $15 per hour?

Perhaps the question seems ludicrous. Of course you’re better off making $15 an hour than you were at $9 per hour, right? But the answer is, unfortunately, not as obvious as you might think. And the question itself–will workers getting a raise be better off?–has been missing from this fall’s white-hot debate over efforts in San Francisco and Los Angeles to establish $15 per hour minimum wages.

Instead, in California we’ve seen the same old tired arguments over whether a higher minimum wage hurts business and reduces jobs–or whether it boosts the economy by giving workers more money to spend. For the record, I think a higher minimum wage makes sense in today’s California; $15 per hour isn’t much anymore in our coastal cities. But I’m troubled by our failure to consider the real-world impact of minimum-wage hikes on those who are supposed to benefit directly: the workers getting them.

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Darkness at Noon

Michael Bernick
Former California Employment Development Department Director & Milken Institute Fellow

Earlier this week, the death of David Greenglass at age 92 was announced in the New York Times. Few Californians today have heard of him or even of the espionage trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in 1951, in which he was a key witness. Yet, both the trial and the subsequent revelations have important lessons for us in California civic and political life today, that should not go uncommented on.

rosenbergThe Rosenberg case has its roots in the spy investigations of the late 1940s. In early 1950, Klaus Fuchs, a physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos during World War II to develop the atomic bomb, was discovered to have given classified information on the bomb to the Soviet Union during World War II. Fuchs admitted his action and identified Harry Gold, as his courier, and Gold in turn identified David Greenglass, a former machinist at Los Alamos, as a collaborator.

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CA Supreme Court ‘All Aboard’ For High-Speed Rail

John Seiler
John Seiler, an editorial writer with The Orange County Register for 19 years, is a reporter and analyst for

All aboooooard!

In what probably is the last train stop of opposition to California’s high-speed rail project, today the California Supreme Court refused to hear a case that could have stopped it. The case, by Kings County and two local landowners whose property would be bulldozed for the project, objected that the Legislature had altered the project from the clear language of Proposition 1A in 2008, which authorized $8.6 billion in state bonds for the project.

According to California High-Speed Rail Authority Board Chairman Dan Richard, as reported in the Times, the decision:

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Campaign 2014: Weekly Update, What’s Hot!

Allan Hoffenblum
Publisher of the California Target Book and owner of Allan Hoffenblum & Associates

Entering the last three weeks of Campaign 2014, I’ll post a weekly piece updating readers on the week’s latest campaign news. This is an abbreviated version of the Hot Sheet, which is regularly emailed to subscribers of the California Target Book.

SD32: GOP looking for a major upset? In the Democratic battle to maintain their super-majority in the state Senate, it’s long been known that the two most competitive races where in SD14, held by GOP Sen. Andy Vidak, and SD34, an Orange County seat that is open due to Sen. Lou Correa being termed out. But it now appears that the GOP leadership is looking to make a serious challenge in the heavily Democratic SD32, where former Democratic Asm. Tony Mendoza is running against Republican Mario Guerra, the mayor of Downey.

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The Turnout Conundrum

Scott Lay
Higher education Lobbyist and Publisher of The Nooner

Probably the most frequent question I am getting right now is what my estimates of turnout will be. Of course, people just want me to repeat my idiocy from June, in which I projected a pessimistic 33.5% turnout. Of course, the fine voters of the Golden State one-upped me, and only 25.17% of registered voters turned out, fifteen points lower than the average of the previous 8 elections. So, yeah, I’m not exactly enthused about predicting the enthusiasm of a very politically unenthusiastic electorate.

Nevertheless, providing uninformed opinions is what The Nooner is always about, right?

Let’s look at a pretty picture of turnout for primary and general elections since Jerry Brown last left the corner office:

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The Challenge Libertarians Face to Win American Hearts

Ed Ring
Executive Director, California Public Policy Center

In California, the root cause of government waste, failed programs, high taxes, debt and deficits, regulatory abuse, civil rights abuse, and even corporate cronyism is public sector unions. Their agenda is intrinsically in conflict with the public at large because any government program, any government regulation, any tax and any new debt, benefits them regardless of the cost or benefit to society.

In California, public sector unions collect and spend over $1.0 billion per year in dues. Their combined political spending and lobbying easily exceeds a half-billion per two-year election cycle. They are by far the most powerful special interest in California. Businesses embrace cronyism because they have no choice. The unions rule. Businesses either make a deal with the unions who run the state and local agencies, so they can get a subsidy or favorable regulation, or they can fight an irresistible machine.

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Covered CA Blames Cronyism on Obamacare Scramble

James Poulos
Staff Columnist, Orange County Register

In an embarrassing new black eye for Covered California, the state’s implementation of Obamacare, the health exchange, has admitted it violated accepted practice by awarding $184 million in so-called “no-bid” contracts, according to a new report by the Associated Press.

State governments routinely consider competing bids for work. It’s a process designed to prevent corruption and the appearance of impropriety.

In the past, government contracting that skirts the process has been a target of prominent Democrats. During Republican President George W. Bush’s 2004 run for re-election, Democratic rivals Sen. John Kerry and Sen. John Edwards campaigned against the energy company Halliburton’s no-bid government contracts in Iraq. Republican Vice President Dick Cheney had been the head of Halliburton.

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Kashkari’s Attention-Getting Ad has a Point

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

Neel Kashkari’s campaign for governor sought to gain attention with its first statewide television commercial and succeeded. The ad titled Betrayal depicts a boy drowning before being pulled to safety by Kashkari. The boy is symbolic of the school children Kashkari asserts have been abandoned by Governor Jerry Brown when he appealed the Vergara vs. California case.

The judge declared in Vergara that conditions in California schools for minority students “shock the conscience” in concluding that “grossly ineffective teachers” protected by the state’s teacher tenure laws deny minority students constitutional protections for an equal education.

Kashkari’s attention-getting ad is intended to get the media and, through the media, the people talking about this issue. With the one sided advantage the governor has in financial resources Kashkari is relying on an edgy campaign commercial to get his word out.

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Shameful Journalistic Abdication on Prop 2

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)

A hefty chunk, perhaps the majority, of media coverage of California governance in recent years has been about the budget. So why isn’t the media applying even the most basic scrutiny to Prop 2, the so-called “rainy day fund” measure that is on the ballot?

People are already beginning to cast votes, but the California media has given a one-sided accounting of Prop 2, portraying it as a common-sense, how-could-anyone-oppose-this measure. I have looked for critical analysis of the measure and how it might work in the popular press and radio. Instead, the propaganda of its backers has been repeated.

I realize that the subject is complicated – in fact, the complexity is probably the biggest problem with the measure – but that shouldn’t be any excuse. For a breakdown of what the measure might mean – nobody knows for sure – you can’t do better than the California Budget Project’s analysis. If you’re a reporter who has written about Prop 2 and hasn’t read that analysis, shame on you. And here’s the link.

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The Environmental Movement Has Become the Environmental Industry

Writer on culture and politics for CityWatch

Who would imagine that investment bankers and venture capitalists would be leading the next environmental revolution? Maybe not all of them, but there were certainly a lot of the financial types mixed in with visionary engineers and builders at the GloSho, a workshop on what is colloquially referred to as green tech. One conclusion: building a more efficient electric motor or recycling agricultural waste may be more effective ways of saving the planet than paying dues to your friendly environmental organization.

The meeting, held at the LA Theater Center, was sponsored by the LA Cleantech Incubator] (Laci for short) this week of October 6, 2014. It was remarkable for the breadth of subject matter as well as for the collection of companies and, indeed, countries that are working hard to make green technology a reality.

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