Exemptions Could Doom Dynamex Bill

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

The Achilles heal of the bill to define workers role in the gig economy just might be a growing list of exemptions in the measure. 

In attempting to codify the California Supreme Court’s decision in the Dynamex case, which set a test to determine whether a worker was a full time employee or an independent worker, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez put forth AB 5 with the support from the California Federation of Labor. One of the sponsor’s goals requiring businesses to treat workers as employees is to unionize them.

The battle lines have been drawn around the issues of whether workers will lose their independent status and flexibility and protecting workers with full benefits guaranteed by the state, such as minimum wage, worker’s compensation and other benefits.

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The Redistricting Commission—Political Virgins Wanted

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)

Do you want do the most political job in California? You can apply—as long as you know almost nothing about politics.

California’s Redistricting Commission has a hunger for virgins. Political virgins. And so it’s asking you to apply if you’ve never really participated in politics. Because knowledge is too much of a burden if you’re doing the very political job of drawing lines. Indeed, redistricting is so partisan and political that the U.S. Supreme Court just ruled that there is no redistricting too partisan that courts could intervened to stop it.

How virginal must you be?

You must not have been appointed or elected to office in California—or even run for office?

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A Journey Into the Past

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.

California has always been a place for dreamers and as the state grows the dreams continue to grow bigger along with it.

Teeming concrete megalopolises were one result spurred on by four elements that were predictive of lightening growth: plenty of water, favorable climate and unlimited amounts of open space.

Another ingredient no less important was the opening of the Pacific railways which along with the gas-powered automobile would consign the horse-and-buggy to oblivion.

There was a fifth element no less critical, and perhaps a greater catalyst than all the others combined—the discovery of gold!

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Another Dicey Utility Overhaul

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Californians should always be skeptical when their politicians overhaul the state’s electrical utility system while promising more efficient, less polluting and reasonably priced service.

Californians get their juice from a mélange of “investor-owned” and municipally operated utilities. Inevitably, micromanagement of such a complex system via legislation and regulatory agencies becomes an exercise in political horsetrading.

To reach a conclusion, politicians need consensus among special interest “stakeholders” and to get to that point, each must get something tangible. The resulting mish-mash thus becomes politically feasible, but may not result in any net benefit to the larger ratepaying public.

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The Problem Isn’t that Lara Broke His Promise.

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)

The latest so-called scandal in Sacramento involves Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. He promised while running for the office to not accept political donations from insurance interests. Once in office, he broke that promise, as the San Diego Union-Tribune showed.

That was some good reporting, but Lara’s broken promise isn’t the real scandal. Nor is his acceptance of insurance industry contributions that much of a scandal—elected officials accept money from the people and businesses their decisions affect all the time. Nor is the real scandal Lara’s excuse that it was all a mistake. If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge in the city of Commerce, his hometown, to sell you.

 No, the real scandal is that Lara is an elected official at all. 

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Sacramento’s Shades of Socialism

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

Socialism has become a hot topic in the presidential election but that should not be a surprise. Governments in the US have long engaged in various shades of socialism. California is no exception.

Oxford defines socialism as “a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.” Examples at the federal level include socialized health insurance (Medicare and Medicaid), retirement security (Social Security), bank deposit insurance (FDIC), and mortgage financing (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac).

K-12 education in California illustrates a deep shade of socialism. 93 percent of the state’s 6.7 million K-12 students attend schools funded by the government at a cost of $100 billion per year, 90 percent of whom attend government-run schools, the rest attend non-government-run schools (charters). Authority is centralized in the legislature and governor, who author a thick Education Code.

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Keep hometown newspapers alive

Melissa Martin, Ph.D.
Author, columnist, educator, and therapist.

“For the times they are a-changin’” sang Bob Dylan. And the digital age has changed the way information is eaten, swallowed, and digested. We can’t stop progress, but we must maintain the salience of our hometown newspapers (in print or digital). Why? Local newspapers serve significant roles in local societies.

“When local newspapers shut their doors, communities lose out. People and their stories can’t find coverage. Politicos take liberties when it’s nobody’s job to hold them accountable. What the public doesn’t know winds up hurting them. The city feels poorer, politically and culturally,” penned Kriston Capps in a 2018 article at www.citylab.com.

I recently attended the annual conference for members of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, a nonprofit organization. The NSNC promotes professionalism and camaraderie among columnists and other writers of the serial essay, including bloggers. And advocates for columnists and free-press issues. www.columnists.com.

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New CA rules for deadly police force go to governor’s desk

Laurel Rosenhall
Reporter, CALmatters

Aiming to reduce police shootings in a state that has more than 100 of them each year, the California legislature passed a bill Monday setting a tougher standard for police to use deadly force, allowing officers to fire their guns only “when necessary in defense of human life.” 

Gov. Gavin Newsom said he intends to sign Assembly Bill 392, likely putting an end to more than a year of emotional debate in the Capitol that began after Sacramento police killed an unarmed black man in his grandparents’ backyard. The heated testimony revealed the anguish of Californians whose relatives have been killed by police, as well as the energy of a national civil rights movement drawing attention to the disproportionate impact of police shootings in communities of color. 

“Race matters, and to suggest otherwise is a blatant denial of the obvious,” said Sen. Holly Mitchell, a Los Angeles Democrat who presented the bill on the Senate floor. 

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Supreme Court Needs to Decide Tax Vote Requirements for Initiatives

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

I can’t say I was surprised by San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman’s ruling that two San Francisco tax increases for special purposes were valid despite receiving less than a two-thirds vote. A tax dedicated for special purposes needs a two-thirds vote,  but a California Supreme Court decision in 2017 created confusion about the two-thirds vote requirement for taxes, opening the door for Shulman’s ruling.

At issue is whether a tax brought to voters via the initiative process faces the same hurdles as a tax placed on the ballot by a governing body. Let me borrow from a previous piece I wrote for the Los Angeles Times on this issue to provide background. 

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The California Redistricting Commission Will Soon Be Toast

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)

This may be the last version of the California redistricting commission.

That may sound like a surprising prediction. After all, many commentators, including Joel Fox in this space, have argued that redistricting commissions may become more important as a result of a U.S. Supreme Court decision in late June.

The logic of those commentators goes like this. Since the Court essentially endorsed partisan redistricting by state legislatures and said that the federal courts couldn’t stop partisan gerrymanders, one of the few ways left to stop such gerrymandering is by having voters adopt redistricting commissions like California’s.

But that is an optimistic way to look at the future.

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