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Jarvis Assoc. Asks Supreme Court to Block Sale of High Speed Rail Bonds

Jon Coupal
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA) has petitioned the California Supreme Court to review the high speed rail bond validation case.

After radically changing the bullet train plan promised to voters who approved $10 billion in bonds in 2008, the State asked the court to approve sale of the bonds anyway.  HJTA responded on behalf of all Californians saying the rail plan no longer matches what was promised voters and the State’s request should be denied.  The trial court agreed and denied the State’s request for validation of the bond sale.  The Court of Appeals has reversed this decision and HJTA is now asking for intervention by the Supreme Court.

The current plan for high speed rail is nearly twice as expensive as promised and the projected travel times and fairs have nearly doubled.

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CEQA Being Used To Thwart 250 Jobs for Los Angeles County

Gary Toebben
President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

I am often asked by the media what elected officials can do to be more business-friendly and create new jobs. I tell them about California business regulations and taxes that do not exist in other states. I also talk about streamlined processes and tax credits that do exist in other states. My concrete examples about regulations often include abuses of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Today, I will share a real-time example of how CEQA is being abused in Los Angeles County to thwart the creation of middle-class jobs.

A company named Kinkisharyo International has been selected by the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Agency (MTA) to provide new rail cars for its light rail lines. The company has moved its United States headquarters from suburban Boston to El Segundo; and at the urging of local officials, it plans to build a $60 million rail car production facility on 60 acres in an industrial park in the City of Palmdale. The City of Palmdale is very excited about the new facility and the new jobs. 

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DMV Needs to Stop Robbing Taxpayers

George Runner
Member of the California State Board of Equalization, District 2

If you recently purchased a car from a private party, you may have paid too much tax to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

I’ve been hearing complaints from constituents that DMV charged them a higher city tax rate when they don’t actually live within city boundaries.

These constituents were forced to jump through hoops to prove they didn’t owe the higher tax. As their elected representative, I was happy to assist them in obtaining refunds, but DMV should have never overcharged them in the first place.

What’s worse is that these overcharges are not isolated incidents, but rather a systemic problem resulting from DMV’s bizarre reliance on zip codes to determine tax rates.

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Why The Grocery Bag Bill Should Be Referred

Tony Quinn
Political Analyst

Gov Jerry Brown will soon sign California’s ban on single use plastic grocery bags.  Nothing better represents the de-industrialization of this state; the aversion of California’s elites to the manufacture of products they don’t like even if they are a convenience provided free to consumers.  This legislation should be referred because we need a debate on whether Brown and the legislature are further impoverishing California.

Plastic bags are now among the Great Satans hated by the environmentalist elite along with oil, coal, dams, power plants and assorted other evils.  The evil of the plastic bag: it doesn’t biodegrade and clogs landfills.  The plastic bag industry counters that their bags, a convenience reused by consumers, accounts of only 0.4 percent of landfill space, and do not emit greenhouse gases (another environmentalist Great Satan).

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Save That Texan

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)

Doesn’t anyone in California politics know how to hit a hanging curve ball?

The indictment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has lectured to Californians to years about job creation and the superiority of Texas, should have been an easy pitch to hit for the California pols he tormented.

But no one has. Perhaps people were wary of exploiting an indictment that seemed so nakedly political. Or of getting on the wrong side of Texas Democrats who are defending the indictment, even as it’s dismissed around the country as a misguided attempt to criminalize politics.

But c’mon, Californians. The way to draw blood against our tormentor Perry and Texas was easy. Just say: “We Californians would be happy to offer Gov Perry asylum here.”

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What Tesla’s Choosing of Nevada Over California Really Means

Lenny Mendonca
Co-Chair, CA Fwd Leadership Council

Tesla’s decision to build its $5 billion gigafactory in Reno, Nev. is disappointing – but not the loss decried by its harshest critics.

It is impossible from the outside to know the details of what was offered, promised, and conditioned. To be certain, California’s leaders were deeply engaged and willing to make a deal if it penciled out for California.

From this side of the border, negotiators say that what Tesla wanted did not make sense for California. The winning state was expected to hand over as much as $500 million in tax incentives.  According to Forbes, Nevada gave Tesla $1.25 billion in incentives, nearly $200,000 a job.

While the desert dust settles, one thing is clear: Tesla made a great deal for its shareholders, many of whom are in the corporation’s home state of California.

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Class Issues, Not Race, Will Likely Seal the Next Election

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

Recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and along the U.S.-Mexico border may seem to suggest that race has returned as the signature issue in American politics. We can see this already in the pages of mainstream media, with increased calls for reparations for African-Americans, and expanded amnesties for the undocumented. Increasingly, any opposition to Obama’s policies is blamed on deep-seated white racism.

Yet in reality, race will not define the 2014 election, or likely those that follow. Instead the real defining issue—class—does not fit so easily into the current political calculus. In terms of racial justice, we have made real progress since the ’60s, when even successful educated minorities were discriminated against and the brightest minority students were often discouraged from attending college. Today an African-American holds the highest office in the land, and African Americans also fill the offices of U.S. attorney general and national security advisor. This makes the notion that race thwarts success increasingly outdated.

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Comparison Of iPhone 6 Innovative Features: Which Apple Smartphone Model Had The Most Improvements?

Alex Hillsberg
Writer for Financial Websites

In the summer of 2007, Mike Lazardis, co-founder of BlackBerry, got an iPhone to check what’s inside. He pried it open and was shocked on what he saw: BlackBerry wasn’t competing with a phone, he thought, it was competing against a Mac. Lazardis was recalling that moment in an interview with The Globe and Mail, hinting about the months leading to the fall of RIM.

Such is the iPhone’s disruptive story: it put the computer in our phones and made them smart. Suddenly, we could buy and play music in our phones, surf the net via wifi, run desktop-like OS, and, the best defining factor of a smartphone, download apps. We do all that without a keypad (to BlackBerry’s shock). No, Apple didn’t invent these technologies, it innovated them. Over a decade earlier, IBM had Simon, the world’s first smartphone.

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Science Panel: Environmental Impacts of Fracking in California are Relatively Limited

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

Big news on the hydraulic fracturing front. An independent science panel has found that the direct environmental impact of well stimulation technologies for oil production in California “appear to be relatively limited.” That is, the primary environmental impacts from increased production will be caused by any increase in production generally – not by the well stimulation practices, i.e. “fracking.” The report was commissioned by the Bureau of Land Management to inform the federal agency’s oil and gas policies in California.

The California Council on Science and Technology released a peer-reviewed assessment conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The Council’s steering committee included 12 subject matter experts from major research institutes within and outside California under the leadership of Dr. Jane C.S. Long, Principal Associate Director at Large at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

The report’s key findings include:

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Can the State’s New Hollywood Tax Credit Make Us All Media Moguls?

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)

We’re making major motion pictures, baby!

And TV shows, too! That’s right, my fellow California taxpayers. You and I are now major investors in film and television productions. Our agent—or I should say our 120 agents in the state legislature—cut a five-year deal last week putting more than 1.5 billion of our hard-earned dollars into the production of on-screen entertainment.

Before we celebrate the fact that we are now all Hollywood players, we must admit to ourselves that, financially, our new investment isn’t such a good deal. We California taxpayers have broken the cardinal rule of Hollywood: Never use your own money.

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