Let Us Keep on Truckin’ Says Lawsuit; Remove the AB 5 Roadblock

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

Now it begins—the California Trucking Association (CTA) is opening what likely will become an avalanche of lawsuits, new legislation or just plain protests and complaints to get out from under the restrictions of AB 5 limiting the role of independent contractors. 

The Trucking Association, to borrow a well-worn phrase especially popular in the 1960s, wants to Keep on Truckin’ as it has in the past. According to a statement from the CTA, as many as 70,000 independent truck drivers are afraid that AB 5 limits their abilities to be owner operators. Unlike some other professions, the truckers were not exempted from AB 5, which codified the California Supreme Court test created in the Dynamex case to determine if a worker is an employee or a contractor. 

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The High Cost of Environmentalism

Stuart Waldman
President, Valley Industry & Commerce Association

With Thanksgiving in two weeks, I have to start by giving thanks that my family and home have been safe from the fires we have seen recently. I have many friends who were evacuated or lost power. And seeing the homes that burned was sobering for everyone living in California.

The smoke, power outages, and freeway closures impacted life in the San Fernando Valley – forcing at least one local nonprofit to cancel its major fundraiser, losing desperately-needed money which could have been spent on services; closing schools, and endangering people in poor health for whom the smoke and lack of electricity was not an inconvenience but a real danger.

I hope that the stories we’ve heard will illustrate something I’ve been talking about for years now – the importance of energy reliability and affordability. Over the last few years, certain environmentalist groups have coalesced around a single energy policy – remove all trace of fossil fuels from our city and state. And they have the right to campaign on their one issue as much as they want.

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Unsustainable California

Joel Kotkin
Editor of NewGeography.com and Presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University

The recent rash of fires, like the drought that preceded it, has sparked a new wave of pessimism about the state’s future. But the natural disasters have also obscured the fact the greatest challenge facing the state comes not from burning forests or lack of precipitation but from an increasingly dysfunctional society divided between a small but influential wealthy class and an ever-expanding poverty population.

We are not addressing either the human or natural challenge. Once the ultimate “can do” state, California is morphing into one that is profoundly “can’t do.” Neither right nor left seems to have any program to confront the state’s worsening malaise on issues ranging from housing, education and the economy to the care of the environment.

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LA City Budget Situation Reflects a Sad Reality of Today’s Politics

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

The chatter from many presidential candidates and local politicians is that corporations and businesses are corrupting government and buying the government they want. While there is no denying that corporations do their best to influence and direct politicians, businesses are not the only ones playing that game and are often the target of spending interests that attempt to manipulate political class, as well. As the current Los Angeles budget situation shows, those interests have had great success. 

A recent Los Angeles Times editorial best captured the process of public sector unions bending politicians to their political will to meet budget demands to meet union wage and benefit requests. At the same time, politicians are not open with citizens about the city’s financial situation.

As the Times editorial points out, the city budget, hailed by city officials just six months ago as reaping surpluses of $33 to $77 million a year over the next four years, is actually facing big deficits of $200-$400 million over the next four years. 

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Quantum Computer for Governor

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)

Cut out the human middleman. Google’s quantum computer should challenge Gavin Newsom for governor.

That quantum computer, which lives in Santa Barbara, is really what Californians want when they think of government. We detest politicians and rail against any who don’t follow our whims; we prefer fully programmed machines, like the computer.

More important, Californians always like to solve problems not with management or humans, but by imposing new formulas. Formulas—indeed complicated algorithms—govern significant policy in California.

So the best possible governor is a quantum computer that manages algorithms easily.

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Post-Midterm Magic for Investors

Charles Crumpley
Editor and Publisher of the San Fernando Valley Business Journal

You’ve heard that if a National Football Conference team wins the Super Bowl in January, it’ll be a bull market that year? Or that when hemlines rise, so do stock prices? And that you should exit equities entirely in the month of October because that’s when bad things happen?

Superstitions like those are pretty stupid. (OK, the football thing supposedly is right 80 percent of the time according to one article I read. But shouldn’t we chalk that up to coincidence?) Yet here’s one stock-market “myth” that actually has held up to scrutiny: in the 12 months after a midterm election, stocks rise.

I wrote about this phenomenon one year ago. I referenced an article by Stephen McBride, who wrote this in Marketwatch on midterm election day, Nov. 6, last year: “Since 1946, there have been 18 midterm elections. Stocks were higher 12 months after every single one. Every single one. That’s 18 for 18.”

I vowed then to check back in a year. So, did the trend hold? Are we 19 for 19?

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On Candidate Tax Returns Bill, Legislature Didn’t Even Check the California Constitution

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)

I’ve long been criticized as “unrealistic” for arguing that the California constitution is essentially useless and should be replaced. I’m glad to see the California legislature agrees with me. 

That agreement became clear during an extraordinary moment in a hearing before the California Supreme Court. The case was the legal challenge to the new state law, aimed at President Trump, which requires candidates to disclose their tax returns if they want to be on the statewide ballot. 

Justices were skeptical about this law, and the limits of the legislature to add requirements. But Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye zeroed in on the big issue—that the law almost certainly violates the California constitution. That document, after all, requires open primaries and it says that the state must place on the ballot any “recognized candidates throughout the nation or throughout California.” 

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Are We in a Permanent State of Fire Emergency?

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.

Californians disagree about many things. But there seems to be one issue on which there is general consensus: The state cannot be allowed to continue catching fire!

These raging conflagrations are indiscriminate killers throughout every area of the state and likely to become even more numerous, more perilous and more costly.

Climate change and the longer lasting droughts are transforming highly flammable tree and brush-studded regions into giant tinder boxes which threaten how we live. No town or neighborhood is immune.

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CalEPA studying ways to sunset the California economy

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

California is about to take one giant step toward following Germany’s failed climate goals which should be a wake-up all for governments everywhere. Yes, you guessed it, our legislatures have authorized CalEPA in the 2019 – 2020 California State budget and Assembly Bill AB 74 to conduct studies and identify strategies to manage the decline of in-state crude oil production and decrease demand and supply of fossil fuel.

Germany tried to step up as a leader on climate change, by phasing out nuclear, and pioneered a system of subsidies for industrial wind and solar that sparked a global boom in manufacturing those technologies. Today, Germany has the highest cost of electricity in the world. 

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Pension funds could lose some shareholder clout

Publisher, CalPensions.com

With their massive stock holdings, CalPERS and CalSTRS have been leaders in pushing companies on issues such as sky-high executive pay, captive corporate boards that lack diversity, and hurdles to putting resolutions up for a vote by all shareholders.

The two giant pension funds are out front again in a new climate-change wave pushing companies to report and reduce their “carbon footprint” from all activities while also looking at their “sustainability” or ability to prosper in the long run.

A more subtle pressure on companies comes as public pension funds and other institutional investors use what are often called ESG principles (environmental, social and corporate governance) as they buy and sell stock.

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