Happy Thanksgiving to All.
Fox and Hounds Daily will resume publication on Monday, December 2.
We are one year away from the November 2014 General Election, and the California Target Book, which I publish, just distributed its fall edition to subscribers, analyzing and handicapping the upcoming races in California for congress and the state legislature.
Earlier on Fox & Hounds, I reported on the key races for Congress (Part 1), state Senate (Part 2), and Assembly (Part 3).
Today I am going to review some of the more interesting June Primary races in safe Democratic districts and safe Republican districts where the incumbent is not seeking reelection due to term limits, or is seeking higher office, or is retiring.
Taxpayers received good news yesterday when Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny denied the State permission to put taxpayers in debt another almost nine billion dollars, which the California High Speed Rail Authority wanted to use on a project not even remotely close to what the State pitched to California voters when they approved high speed rail five years ago.
In March of this year, the High Speed Rail Authority, along with the High Speed Rail Passenger Finance Committee, filed a “validation action,” suing everyone in the state. If no one responded, they would have received a court ruling allowing the issuance of almost nine billion dollars in bonds to fund construction of a rail system that no longer resembles what voters approved with the passage of Proposition 1A in 2008.
With Thanksgiving coming up, we should all take some time to be thankful for what we have. Our nation, despite some problems, is still the greatest nation in the world.
One of those problems is the ongoing abuse of our legal system. It seems like there is not a day, week or year that goes by that we cannot point to an example of the utter abuse of our legal system. Why do we continue to allow the civil justice system to be abused for personal gain?
This year is no exception and lawsuit abuse turkeys come in all sizes. This year, we decided to give out Legal Turkey Awards. Here are the winners:
The deficit in Sacramento and Washington is growing—and I’m not speaking about floundering finances. The trust-deficit between Americans and policymakers is distressingly large—with only 19 percent of Americans, according to an October Pew poll, who say that they have faith that the government will do what is right just about always or most of the time.
Thankfully, Americans have not lost all hope. They still have faith in some institutions—generally those that they feel truly protect freedoms and preserve livelihoods, like the military and small businesses. In fact, when it comes to job creation and the economy, Americans value the opinions of small-business owners more than any other institution—likely because small-business leaders across the nation have remained committed to hard-work, to job-creation and to building communities, while many in Sacramento and Washington have become preoccupied with less noble endeavors.
The budget projections offered by the Legislative Analyst last week could throw a monkey wrench into the plans of those who are seeking tax increases on the 2014 ballot.
The LAO projected a budget surplus of $5.6 billion dollars for the budget year ending in 2015 scaling up to $10 billion a couple of years later, assuming no economic dip or wild spending plans out of the legislature. The surplus would be on top of new money for many budget items, especially education.
At a Milken Institute event last Thursday, Governor Jerry Brown cautioned against depleting the surplus.
Recently there has been a good deal of press about public pension funds moving $600 billion to “alternative investments” managed by hedge funds and private equity funds. Some commentators, such as Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone and David Sirota of Salon, criticize alternative investments as transfers of wealth to Wall Street because alternative investment managers charge high fees. But the public pension fund managers making those allocations to alternative investments and agreeing to pay those fees say alternative investments produce greater returns than do other investments, even after paying big fees. Not everyone believes them.
It’s easy to understand the cynicism. Alternative investment management fees are big, and many reports by public pension funds about alternative investments are at best confusing and at worst misleading. But there are some good models out there.
Right now, it is hard to imagine Congress transforming into a productive bipartisan institution. But the Legislature in California has demonstrated the possibility of such a transformation. In doing so, it exemplifies the kind of governance innovations that the United States badly needs today.
Over the course of a generation, governance in California mutated into a vitriolic stalemates. While the state grew in population and diversity, decision-making concentrated in the state Capitol in Sacramento. Eventually, narrow interest groups and their allied party leaders dominated the governing process. The electoral system – with gerrymandered districts and thus a complete focus on the primaries – encouraged intransigence and discouraged compromise.
Obamacare’s first set of victims was predictable: the self-employed and owners of small businesses. Since the bungled launch of the health insurance enrollment system, hundreds of thousands of self-insured people have either had their policies revoked or may find themselves in that situation in the coming months. More than 10 million self-insured people, many of them self-employed, could meet a similar fate.
Unlike large companies or labor unions, which have sought to delay or duck implementing the Affordable Care Act, what could be called the yeoman class lacks the political might to make much of a dent in Washington policies. Indeed, in the Obama era, with its emphasis on top-down solutions and Chicago-style brokering, Americans who work for themselves probably are more marginalized today than at any time in recent memory.
The principal of my combined high school/junior high school in Massachusetts came on the school intercom the last school period to inform us President Kennedy had been shot. I was in the school library.
Shortly thereafter walking to the bus to go home, I came across a student I can only brand the “class clown” and he said the president was dead. I did not know whether to believe him or not.
During the ride home, probably for the only time in my life, I was on a school bus full of students where you could hear a pin drop.
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