It’s time for California to follow Mexico and pull the plug on Renewables

Ronald Stein
Founder and Ambassador for Energy & Infrastructure of PTS Advance, headquartered in Irvine, California

The only things ‘inevitable’ about the ‘transition’ to wind and solar are rocketing electricity prices and unstable power grids. Recognizing that industrial wind and solar electricity bring little to no value to electrical grids, Mexico is moving to avoid the higher electrical prices experienced by Germany, Denmark, Great Britain, South Australia, California, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and other governments that have heavily subsidized their supply of intermittent electricity. Time for California to follow the lead of our Southern neighbor and pull the plug on renewable subsidies.

To stop continuous increases in the cost of electricity, Mexico stepped up to the plate and pulled  the plug on subsidy dependent intermittent power from wind and solar that has been driving up the cost of electricity for its financially challenged population. The Mexican government has taken a stand that has sent renewable energy rent seekers into a tailspin.

Does California have the leadership mettle to reverse decades of price increases for electricity? 

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Bridging the Gap Between Police and Minority Communities

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

Demonstrators closed a Los Angeles freeway in protest over yet another high-profile death of an African American man, George Floyd, in police custody, this time in Minneapolis. In that city, protests exploded into violence the last two days. Police chiefs from across the country criticized the Minneapolis police action saying it pushes back progress made in creating trust with the police. Indeed, overshadowed by the news is the important small but significant step recently affirmed that community policing in Los Angeles has shown positive signs of developing trust between the police and the minority communities they serve. 

The report from UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs analyzed the LAPD’s Community Safety Partnership.

The program, designed to move away from traditional policing to more interactions and conversations between police and the community so that residents feel safer in public housing projects, showed reductions in murder and other violent crimes.

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Remote Voting by the Legislature should be Narrowly Framed

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

Most of us have logged onto a Zoom call or Teams meeting or Facebook happy hour. But what about remote voting – by the Legislature, anyway?

What would have seemed absurd in January is now under serious consideration: a proposal to enshrine in the State Constitution protocols for Senators and Assembly Members to vote on legislation while dispersed and sheltering remotely. 

Such a radical change in the exercise of democracy potentially clashes with California’s venerable traditions of transparent and accessible government, reflected in our open meetings and open records laws. On the other hand, the pandemic has demonstrated that even the most cherished of our liberties, like assembling for protests or religious services, can be temporarily subordinated to urgent imperative to protect public health.

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California Lawmakers have Clashing Views Regarding Proxy Voting

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 lawmakers participated in history-making the other day as a majority of House members voted by proxy for the first time safely ensconced in their homes during the coronavirus pandemic that is changing all the rules of normal life.

 The legislation to add millions to the “paycheck protection” program especially for small businesses that have suffered huge losses and even closures related to the COVID-10 virus drew overwhelming bi-partisan support passing by 417-1. 

 Democrats labelled it the “Heroes Act.”

 It now goes to the Senate which must decide between approval which is expected to get the president’s signature or to push through a companion measure that might have trouble advancing.

 A far more controversial bill calling for an injection of an additional $3 trillion remains suspended subject to ongoing bickering over exactly how much money should go to states and local governments.

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The EPA Should Retain the Existing National Ambient Air Quality Standards

Todd Royal
Todd Royal is an independent public policy consultant focusing on the geopolitical implications of energy based in Los Angeles, California.

Energy efficiency, the cost of delivering reliable electricity, and respiratory health have taken on an even greater importance for California with the recent turmoil brought about by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. In mid-April the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it would “retain without changes,” the existing National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for particulate matter (PM). NAAQS standards are mandated by the Clean Air Act, which is administered by the EPA. The standards limit the atmospheric concentration of a variety of pollutants, including both fine and coarse particulate matter – which cause smog, acid rain, and other environmental health hazards. California policymakers including Governor Newsom should advocate for and follow the current EPA standards.

The existing NAAQS standards were published in 2013 under the Obama Administration, and the EPA is required to review the latest scientific studies and reaffirm or modify the NAAQS every five years. The EPA’s Administrator, Andrew Wheeler, appointed to reaffirm the existing 2013 standards, justified recent decisions by pointing out the significant reductions in PM under the existing system. By all accounts, the 2013 standard is working. Current measurements from the Clean Air Act programs along with measurements conducted by state, county, local, and tribal governments, indicate that “on average PM2.5 concentrations in the U.S. fell by 39 percent between 2000 and 2018. Similarly, average PM10 concentrations fell by 31 percent during the same period.” These standards have benefited California’s environment and should not be changed since the state has a $54.3 billion budget deficit and trillions in unfunded liabilities to consider before enacting job-killing regulations.

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Bill Boyarsky and Sherry Bebitch Jeffe
Bill Boyarsky is a former reporter, editor and columnist for the Los Angeles Times. Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, is a retired Professor of the Practice of Public Policy Communication, Sol Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California

Bill and Sherry explore President Donald Trump’s potent weapon, disruption, throwing the bright shiny object into the national debate to take attention away from the rising coronavirus toll and a distressed economy.  His targets include vote by mail and Joe Scarborough.  We also reach into California history for reasons why some Californians are resistant to masks and sheltering in place.

Inside Golden States Politics

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Demystifying the Legislative Process

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

California’s legislative process may not follow the normal structure in these abnormal times. 

How the process works out—including the Senate’s possible use of remote voting and the Assembly’s meeting as a committee of the whole—is taking shape to deal with the threat of the coronavirus. Yet, when we return to normal, there is a structure on how the process works and veteran lobbyist Chris Micheli has laid it all out in a comprehensive textbook, Understanding the California Legislative Process

Based on over 20 years’ experience dealing with the California legislature and previous extensive writings on the process, Micheli put together a textbook aimed at college students and interested parties that, through a series of short chapters, explains the complex system of making law in California. 

The book delves into the power of the legislature, starting with Article IV of the state Constitution, and includes sections on bill drafting, committee procedures, advocacy, legislative ethics, legislative publications and more. 

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How to Free the Budget Hostages

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

Governor Newsom’s Revised Budget proposes cuts to programs in the event more federal COVID funds are not provided. We propose a solution that would free the 10 programs below and improve the state’s structural deficit without jeopardizing the financial security of retired state employees.

The first eight programs would be funded by savings from substituting Oregon’s or Colorado’s programs for providing medical and prescription drug benefits to retired state employees and their dependents. Referred to as “OPEB” (“Other Post Employment Benefits”), the change would save ~$2.5 billion in cash per year and avoid ~$2.5 billion in new debt per year. Unlike federal funds, the savings would be on-going.

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Why Californians Should Celebrate Monterey’s Birthday

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)

Monterey turns 250 next month. The rest of the state should claim the date as its birthday too.   

Monterey’s beginnings are the closest thing California, an orphan of a state, has to a birth story. Admission Day—September 9, 1850, when California became an American state—isn’t a birthday, since California was a province of Spain and Mexico  before that. We can’t know the exact day, thousands of years ago, when native peoples arrived. And early European explorers didn’t stick around long enough to establish much. 

By default, that leaves June 3, 1770, when Junipero Serra, California’s unsaintly saint, and Spanish Capt. Gaspar de Portola founded Monterey, which would become California’s first capital—and most enduring place.

A quarter-millennium later, Monterey is often dismissed as too precious, too much a place apart. But the same has been said about California. Indeed, the peninsula city—with its special ability to connect the past to the future—has become an emblem of our state. 

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Where’s the “science” that Governor Newsom continues to preach?

Ronald Stein
Founder and Ambassador for Energy & Infrastructure of PTS Advance, headquartered in Irvine, California

Listening to the daily COVID-19 virus updates from Governor Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti, brings to mind one of the best-known quotes from Clara Peller who was a manicurist and American character actress who, at the age of 81, starred in the 1984 “where’s the beef?”  advertising campaign for the Wendy’s fast food restaurant chain. Today, neither Newsom nor Garcetti provide the “science” numbers to support their authority to shut down the California economy. 

The COVID-19 “science” is the actual statistical numbers. The virus is hard on the elderly, with those 65 and older accounting for 80% of the California fatalities. The population age 65 and over represent about 15 percent of the population. It does not make a lot of statistical sense for our elected leadership to be blind to the “real science numbers” and hold the other 85 percent of the population (approximately 34 million) hostage, which results in catastrophic damage to the economy. 

Where is the virus “science”? The Center for Disease Control (CDC) data shows California experienced more than 200,000 fatalities per year from 2014 thru 2017 from ALL causes including Heart Disease, Cancer, Stroke, Alzheimer’s Disease, Respiratory, Accidents, Diabetes, Influenza/Pneumonia, Hypertension, and Liver Disease. 

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