A Rush to Judgment Poses a Public Safety Threat

Vice President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys

If you need any further proof that state legislators do not value public safety, considerSenate Bill 10 (SB 10)  and Assembly Bill 41 (AB 41) which will change our current bail system. Make no mistake, there is a problem with our current bail system. There is no question that it is unfair to the poor. Nor does it make sense that bail for violent criminals serves any public interest. But these two pieces of legislation are not the solution.

Senate Bill 10 and AB 42 change the bail system drastically. These two bills allow defendants, including those accused of capital crimes that carry the death sentence, to remain free pending their trial if they meet certain criteria.  Further, when considering bail, the legislation gives scant weight to the criminal history of an arrestee or the arrestees’ prior history of failing to appear in court.  The fact that our state constitution prohibits the release of those accused of capital crimes makes no difference to the authors of this legislation. The fact that our state constitution mandates that public safety be the primary factor in weighing pretrial release is ignored by these bills.

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California Electric Vehicle Drivers Await a Critical Charge

Brett Hauser, CEO of Greenlots; Mike Anderson, CEO of Efacec USA; Dave Schembri, CEO of EVgo; Kristof Vereenooghe, CEO of EV-Box

Last week the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved its portion of an electric vehicle (EV) investment plan stemming from the 2016 Volkswagen (VW) settlement, setting in motion the first tranche of four $300 million national investments in EV infrastructure. As part of the settlement, California is set to receive $800 million, split into four $200 million 30-month cycles, to build out zero emission vehicle (ZEV) infrastructure and promote ZEV adoption.

This unprecedented level of investment across the country is a tremendous opportunity for American drivers, clean air, and the growing domestic electric vehicle charging industry at a critical inflection point for driver choice. The existing private sector participants have installed more than 35% of the total volume of electric vehicle fast chargers in the last 18 months, and new extended range vehicles give consumers choices that they can take advantage of if the right investments are made into charging infrastructure to build on successes to date. VW’s wholly-owned subsidiary Electrify America submitted its plan to spend the first $200 million in California, and we strongly encourage the California Air Resources Board (ARB), to approve the first phase of the plan to unlock this investment.

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Will Adoption of the Open Primary Increase Voter Clout?

Richard Rubin
Chair, California Commonwealth Club Board of Governors

When Proposition 14 was adopted by California voters in June 2010—the so-called blanket or open primary— it signaled an interest in moving away from strict partisanship —sort of.

Under this law, statewide and congressional candidates run against each other on the same ballot regardless of party affiliation. The top two vote-getters move on to the general election.

However, candidates must still have ballot designations according to their party registration. The presidential primary, judgeships and non-partisan offices are not affected.

In theory this was intended to promote greater competition. In practice, given the preponderance of Democratic voters in the state, the two candidates advancing to the November run-off are more likely to be Democrats.

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Brown Ended Socal “Drought Emergency” Too Soon

Ralph E. Shaffer
Professor Emeritus of History at Cal Poly Pomona

A week into April, in the wake of one of the wettest Januarys and Februarys on record, Gov. Jerry Brown declared that the state’s drought emergency was over. Lawn watering, except in the face of an approaching storm, was no longer an uncivil act. Home owners needn’t snitch on lawn-watering neighbors any longer. Suburban life in SoCal would return to near normal because Mother Nature had resumed a more routine weather cycle. In fact, it hadn’t. The rainfall pattern had already reverted to a drought condition when the governor made his popular but premature announcement.

For five long years – it seemed even longer – high pressure ridges in the eastern Pacific blocked the usual storms that in the past had brought winter rain to SoCal. The rainy season in 2010-11 produced more than a normal rainfall, exceeding the 139 year annual average by over five inches. Over 20 inches of rain fell that season.

The next five seasons, 2011-2016, had a collective total of 38 inches of rain, averaging only half of the normal annual precipitation each year. We weren’t entirely dry, but for SoCal residents who know that 139 year average is roughly 15 inches per year, receiving only half of that amount was devastating to plant life.

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Will Prop 54 Produce More Backroom Deals?

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)

California’s long history of political reform is one very substantial argument for how reforms produce unintended consequences, often the very opposite of what reformers said they wanted.

Prop 54 is well on its way to becoming another example of this phenomenon.

The centerpiece of Prop 54, approved by voters last year and backed by all right-thinking (just ask them) good government types in California, was a rule mandating transparency through a 72-hour rule. Bills would have to be in print for 72 hours before a final vote; the theory was that this would bring transparency and end the Capitol tradition of backroom deals that inserted late provisions into major legislation.

But in practice, the 72-hour rule is likely to have the opposite effect.

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In transportation tax rush, did Sacramento break the law?

Susan Shelley
Columnist and member of the editorial board of the Southern California News Group, and the author of the book, "How Trump Won."

Did lawmakers break the law when they passed Senate Bill 1, the transportation tax increase?

There’s a quaint provision in the California Constitution that reads, “A person who seeks to influence the vote or action of a member of the Legislature in the member’s legislative capacity by bribery, promise of reward, intimidation, or other dishonest means, or a member of the Legislature so influenced, is guilty of a felony.”

By the time Gov. Jerry Brown finished twisting arms and greasing palms to pass a massive transportation tax hike, that antique language was on the curb like a broken grandfather clock waiting for a bulky-item pickup.

Brown and legislative leaders promised a billion dollars for specific local projects in the districts of wavering lawmakers, and one termed-out Republican senator made a deal for a law to protect people in his profession — civil engineering, not the profession you’re thinking of — from liability in construction lawsuits.

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Senate Democrats Block Sen. Bates’ Bill to Reclassify Heinous Crimes as “Violent”

Senator Pat Bates
Senate Republican Leader Patricia C. Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) represents the 36th Senate District in the California Legislature

(Editor’s note: This a press release from the office of Sen. Bates.)

Democrats on the Senate Public Safety Committee voted down Senate Bill 75 by Senate Republican Leader Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) on a partisan 5 to 2 vote that would have expanded the definition of “violent felonies.” It would have covered additional offenses deemed to be serious and violent in nature by many Californians, including solicitation to commit murder and assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer or firefighter.

“I respect my Democratic colleagues on the Public Safety Committee for philosophically disagreeing with me on the length of prison sentences, but blocking my violent felony bill today nevertheless jeopardizes the safety of all Californians,” said Bates. “I do not understand how anyone can say with a straight face that crimes such as assault with a deadly weapon on law enforcement should continue to be considered ‘non-violent.’ People who commit the crimes covered by Senate Bill 75 deserve to be in prison longer because of the physical and emotional harm they inflict on victims.”

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For Education Poll, Knowledge Is Missing

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

Here’s what is missing in the latest Public Policy Institute of California poll on education: a test of the respondents knowledge on education funding. It is an understandable reaction to respond to questions about improving schools by adding more funding. That is generally what PPIC got in its new k-12 education poll. But, the reaction measured in the poll is not graded against how much is actually spent on schools and what voters know about state spending priorities.

Previous PPIC polls make this clear. While school funding takes the lion’s share of state funding, PPIC has annually found that fewer than 1 in 5 voters know that to be true. The greater response is that prisons get the most money. If voters don’t know how the state doles out money, what value is it to ask how much more should be spent by any government department?

Of course, those receiving the school funds probably don’t mind that voters are unaware of the state’s funding priorities. If voters don’t think schools are on top of the heap and they believe that schools deserve to be funded ahead of all other programs, then the voters are more likely to support funding and tax increases for schools.

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What If a Recession Hits California?

John Seiler
Former Editorial Writer at the Orange County Register

As I predicted on Fox and Hounds just after the November election, there’s a Trump Boom in California. But what if it stops? What if a recession slams us again? Two scenarios:

  1. The Federal Reserve keeps increasing interest rates – much higher than now. Historically, that has brought a recession.
  2. War breaks out with North Korea. No doubt America would win. But even if nutty dictator Kim Jong Un’s missiles and nuclear bombs fizzle, the real threat comes from his massive, low-tech artillery on the border with South Korea. The Huffington Post just reported:

“Burrowed into hard granite mountain faces and protected behind blast doors, 15,000 North Korean cannons and rocket launchers are aimed at the glass skyscrapers, traffic-choked highways and blocks of apartment buildings 35 miles away in Seoul ― and the U.S. military bases beyond.

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Caltrain Electrification is an Expensive Disaster

Morris Brown
Resident of Menlo Park and Founder of DERAIL, a grassroots effort against the California high-speed rail project

The Bay Area Commuter line, Caltrain, with a refusal by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to give her signature to its grant application, has been denied a Federal Transit Administration (FTA) $647 million full funding grant agreement (FFGA).

The FTA Grant was to partially fund a $2 billon project to electrify Caltrain’s tracks with the objective to provide more passenger capacity and greater efficiency.  The project has doubled in cost in the last 5 years, and the denial of the FTA grant has invoked invectives and disgust from many in the Transportation community.

A recent editorial from the Sacramento Bee with the title “House Republicans launch a petty attack on a smart rail project” sums up the advocates position.

A response just obtained from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request of the FTA reveals deception has been promoted by Caltrain to gain approval of the grant.

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