Will House Speaker Paul Ryan be called Upon to Save the Party?

Richard Rubin
He writes about political issues and is President of a Public Affairs Management Firm. He also teaches courses on the Presidential & Congressional Elections at the University of San Francisco and is Vice Chair of the California Commonwealth Club.

The 2016 presidential race just got even wackier —if it could— with former New York City Mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg now toying seriously with making a run.

This comes on the heels of rumors that a Stop-Trump movement is quickly gaining steam. Founder of a media empire, Bloomberg could easily match bankrolls with Trump and vows to spend $1 billion if needed.

Bloomberg probably remains sidelined if Hillary Clinton is the nominee. In a Sen. Ted Cruz vs. Bernie Sanders match-up —by itself a scary prospect for the faint of heart—with either Bloomberg or Trump running as third party insurgents, anything could happen.

Meanwhile there is speculation that the one individual who might be called to the rescue if the GOP mega-funders can join forces and who would have a shot at uniting the warring factions, is House Speaker, Paul Ryan.

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The Price of Education

Judy Lin
CALmatters reporter

Vallejo High School teacher Lewis Brown starts his morning government class with a question of the day that takes advantage of newly assigned iPads.

“Today is the one year anniversary of the French magazine terrorist assassination,” Brown says. “What was the name of the magazine?”

The seniors type on their tablets. In seconds, 17-year-old SioFilisi Anitoni answers from the back row, “Mr. Brown, Charlie Hebdo.”

Vallejo City Unified School District is using increased state funds to assign iPads to each of its roughly 1,000 high school students. The district in a working-class community along the north San Francisco Bay is also hoping to improve classroom learning by raising teacher salaries and spending more than $2.5 million on new computer and science labs.

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The Death Of Modern Conservatism

Tony Quinn
Political Analyst

Modern American conservatism dates from the founding of National Review by William F. Buckley in 1955.  And the death of modern conservatism probably dates from last week when the presumptive Republican candidate for president, Donald Trump, called National Review a “failing publication that has lost its way … its circulation is way down with its influence being at an all time low”, after the publication called for his defeat.

Today’s political conservatism is dying from the same self inflicted wounds that brought down earlier versions in American history: it is negative and resentful, not positive and uplifting.  Negativity is not the American way.

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Rainy Day Fund Is Deepening Our Dysfunction

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)

What is the first priority of the state in this budget season?

The Sacramento consensus – which includes Gov. Brown, leading media types, and other wise folks – is that the first priority shouldn’t be health, or boosting education, or restoring cuts to higher education. The first priority should be putting money in the Prop 2 rainy day fund.

Indeed, it is already raining – raining propaganda in support of the rainy day fund. We’re told over and over by good government types who championed it that the fund is “working,” presumably because it will have $9 billion in it. And interest groups that know better – like the California Teachers Assn. – have surrendered to this propaganda, with CTA going so far as to change a ballot initiative on taxes to make sure it incorporated the rainy day fund.

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Oscar ‘Race’ a Global Issue

Charles Crumpley
Editor of the Los Angeles Business Journal

As you probably know, a big controversy erupted in Hollywood in the last couple of weeks because no African-American actors were nominated for an Academy Award this year, for the second year in a row. A lot of the news coverage focused on the fact that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is made up largely of older white men.

But scant attention has been paid to this fact: Hollywood simply didn’t produce many movies last year in which African Americans played central roles. As a result, the academy didn’t have much to choose from.

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Jerry Brown For President? Two Interesting Angles

Chris Reed
San Diego Union Tribune editorial writer and former host of KOGO Radio’s “Top Story” weeknight news talk show

Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters observed in a column last Friday that Gov. Jerry Brown might still have the White House itch:

Does the three-time White House hopeful read about Hillary Clinton’s slide and left-winger Bernie Sanders’ surge in their presidential duel and wonder whether party leaders might, in desperation, turn to a popular, seasoned big-state governor who’s just a few years older?

This prompted some reaction in political circles before it was drowned out Saturday by reports former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg might make an independent bid for the presidency.

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Less Punishment=More Crime?

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

At about the same time Gov. Jerry Brown was explaining his new initiative to reform the determinate sentencing law, Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell was telling Town Hall Los Angeles that law enforcement was facing a losing battle with crime. The sheriff argued that ballot measures back to Proposition 36 in 2000 easing drug punishment through Proposition 47 voiding prison for some felonies and AB 109 prison realignment have led to increased crime.

Will Brown’s new initiative proposal add to the crime problem by making it easier for non-violent offenders to gain parole?

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Flint and East Porterville — Equivalent Public Health Risks; Vastly Different Responses

Duf Sundheim
Candidate for the United States Senate, California

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton used her entire closing statement at the January 17 Democratic presidential debate to highlight the lead-poisoning crisis in Flint, Michigan’s water supply, a racially tinged health and public policy disaster that the Democratic front-runner casts as an urgent catastrophe requiring immediate attention.

Clinton’s debate prose sought to shame Michigan’s Republican governor into action to help Flint’s 100,000 residents that have been drinking and bathing in lead-contaminated water for more than a year. She reportedly said that she had dispatched a top campaign aide to Flint “to see what I could do to help.”

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Even Beyoncé Can’t Buy a House in L.A.

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)

Dear Beyoncé,

Please forgive the tardiness of this note. You moved to California more than a year ago, and I’m only now welcoming you. And I still haven’t baked you a cake.

First, a huge thanks to you and your husband Jay Z for taking Gwyneth Paltrow’s advice and relocating here. A move to California by “the most important and compelling popular musician of the 21st century,” as the New Yorker called you, provides a heavy dose of cultural credibility to our struggling entertainment industry.

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Pensions Drowning California And Its Cities

Senator John Moorlach
California State Senate, 37th District

Get ready California. Without very much fanfare, the proverbial one-ton Government Accounting Standards Board gorilla has entered the room.

As the result of years of discussions over how best to account for the growing unfunded liabilities owed by government pensions systems, municipalities for the first time ever must include the unfunded actuarial accrued liability of their defined-benefit pension plans in their annual financial reports.

Orange County is one of the first municipalities to release its audited financial statements under the new rules. It is provided in a document known as the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (see ac.ocgov.com/info/financial/cafr/2015).

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