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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My Turn on C-SPAN Book TV

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

After a week of writing about water bonds, ballot manipulation and cap-and-trade/high-speed-rail, a little self expression on Friday: my 15-minute interview that aired this week on C-SPAN Book TV. It was recorded in April and covered the background of my modern day mystery novels based on historical events, with a little California politics, my class at Pepperdine and even a discussion of Fox and Hounds Daily thrown in.

The link to the interview on the C-SPAN page is here.

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What, Me Divide?

Charles Crumpley
Editor of the Los Angeles Business Journal

Divide California into six states? Now there’s a dumb idea.

I mean, it took a lot of time and effort to make California the biggest, most ungovernable, least responsive state in the nation. And they expect us to give that up?

California went from being among the best in education but now ranks 47th in the nation for fourth-grade math and reading. The state is consistently listed at or near the bottom for its business environment, and its unemployment rate has been at or near the highest in the country for the last six years. Everybody knows all this – and here’s the good part – we like it that way. We must, since nobody does anything about it.

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It Doesn’t Make Sense to Punish Elected Officials Who Live in One District and Represent Another

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)

Admit it: You’re not exactly sure where you live, are you?

Don’t be embarrassed to acknowledge that, beyond knowing your street address, you’re a little uncertain. California has so many thousands of overlapping local government jurisdictions, plus so many political district lines that divide communities, that understanding where you are at any given moment, even where you sleep each night, can be tricky. Many communities have changed and developed so rapidly that agreeing on a name, or fixed boundaries, is hard. Plenty of Californians have mailing addresses that might say one city (like Fresno) when they vote in another (neighboring Clovis). Add that to the fact that until recently most people in migration-friendly California were born and raised elsewhere, and confusion about place is to be forgiven.

The trouble is that we Californians, despite our own confusion, aren’t so forgiving about residence when it comes to two kinds of people: politicians and parents of school-age children.

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GOP “Party of Yes” as Compromise Water Bond Heads for the Ballot

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

Lots of pats-on-the-back for legislators and the governor as they reached an agreement to put a $7.5 billion water bond on November’s ballot. One thing that should be noted, when Republican votes were needed to achieve a two-thirds support necessary to pass the bond, they did not respond as painted by many, particularly in the media, as the “Party of No.”

Republicans offered an appealing alternative to the $11 billion bond already qualified for the ballot. The GOP version was $8.7 billion and contained the $3 billion Republicans desired for building dams for water storage. They didn’t get that in the end – but they did get a 35% boost to the water storage portion of the bond from $2 billion to $2.7 billion.

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Big Victory Against Excessive Privacy Litigation

Tom Scott
Executive Director, California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

I’ve often said that the next tsunami of litigation will be in the area of privacy. There is always talk about a privacy initiative and there are normally numerous bills in the state legislature dealing with the issue. So I was happily surprised when I read that a state appellate court ordered the dismissal of a privacy lawsuit that could have cost Sutter Health more than $4 billion dollars.

The privacy suit stemmed from a break-in on October 15,2011. During the break-in, a computer was stolen that had  the records of more than 4 million patients stored on the hard drive in a password protected but unencrypted format.

Once they found out the information was stolen, individual patients began filing lawsuits alleging a violation of California’s Confidentiality of Medical Information Act. Those individual suits became coordinated and a master complaint or class action was proposed. The complaint sought $1,000 compensation for each patient, according to the statute, and the potential award could have totaled more than $4 billion.

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