The Cities Leading A U.S. Manufacturing Revival

Joel Kotkin, Editor of NewGeography.com and Presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University, and Michael Shires, Associate Professor of Public Policy, Pepperdine University

Manufacturing may no longer drive the U.S. economy, but industrial growth remains a powerful force in many regions of the country. Industrial employment has surged over the past five years, with the sector adding some 855,000 new jobs, a 7.5% expansion.

Several factors are driving this trend, including rising wages in China, the energy boom and a growing need to respond more quickly to local customer demand and the changing marketplace.

To generate our rankings of the best places for manufacturing jobs, we evaluated the 373 metropolitan statistical areas for which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has complete data over the past decade. Our rankings factor in manufacturing employment growth over the long term (2003-14), medium term (2009-14) and the last two years, as well as momentum.

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Unlawful Immigrants Rush For CA Drivers Licenses

James Poulos
Staff Columnist, Orange County Register

Emerging statistics have revealed that California’s extension of drivers licenses to unlawful immigrants aroused unexpected demand — with no end in sight.

“While state officials expected 1.4 million undocumented immigrants to apply for licenses in the first three years, in the first six months since the law has been enacted more than 1.1 million undocumented immigrants have so far taken the written test, and another 436,000 have taken the driving test,” reported Fox News Latino.

“During the first six months that the Safe Driver and Responsibility Act — or AB 60 — went into effect, the Department of Motor Vehicles saw more than 600,000 applications from undocumented immigrants,” the Los Angeles Daily News observed. DMV officials announced that, in the first half of the year, some 397,000 licenses have been issued to unlawfully present immigrants — half the total of roughly 759,000 licenses issued, according to the Associated Press.

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Trump Impact—Overblown?

Sherry Bebitch Jeffe & Doug Jeffe
Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, Professor of the Practice of Public Policy Communication, Sol Price School of Public Policy and Doug Jeffe, Communications and Public Affairs Strategist

As if politics weren’t crazy enough this year, Donald Trump has brought his unreality show to the 2016 Presidential race.   Trump’s buffoonery has captured the attention of the media and the hearts of more than a few grumpy voters, at least for a while.   But those who worry (Republicans) or hope (Democrats) that Trump’s antics will finally, totally, destroy GOP chances of winning a viable share of Latino voters in 2016 should take a deep breath.

Comparisons of Donald Trump in 2015 to then-Governor Pete Wilson in 1994, currently bouncing around social media and cable chat shows, aren’t valid. Pete Wilson was fighting for his re-election as California’s governor–and for his political life, when he embraced Proposition 187, which would have denied health and education services to undocumented immigrants.

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Regulating Marijuana

Patrick Murphy and Lunna Lopes
Patrick Murphy is Director of Research and Senior Fellow at PPIC. Lunna Lopes is Research Associate at PPIC.

MurphyLopes_MarijuanaIn all likelihood, California voters will be asked to decide the legal status of marijuana on the 2016 ballot. Advocates of legalization are hoping to build on the momentum in four states (Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington) and the District of Columbia that made the recreational use of marijuana legal. Two national advocacy organizations—the Drug Policy Alliance and the Marijuana Policy Project—have made California a major focus for the 2016 election year.

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California Once Again Relegated To Sideshow Status

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.

It seems almost manifestly unfair that no Californian is running for the Presidency in 2016. After all, a little over 12% of the population resides in the Golden State which keeps growing and 1 of every 10 electoral votes is cast here.

Yet California accounts for a mere 3 of our 45 presidents—Hoover, Nixon and Reagan—with Nixon the only one born here. Hoover was born in Iowa and never resided here.  Reagan hailed from Illinois.

Using birthplace as the metric, both Virginia and Ohio share high honors having each contributed 8 presidents. Virginia alone produced George Washington, our first Commander-in-Chief, and 5 of the initial 10 presidents. Virginia’s latest entry, former Democratic Senator, Jim Webb, is considered a long shot.

Looking at states with which presidents were most affiliated when elected, New York can claim 6 including both Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt.

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In Criminal Justice, A Life-And-Death Struggle To Get It Right

Susan Shelley
Susan Shelley is an author, former television associate producer and twice a Republican candidate for the California Assembly.

Few sights are more chilling than an empty execution chamber, with its unbuckled straps, waiting.

The death penalty gets everybody’s attention.

The National Registry of Exonerations, a project of the University of Michigan Law School, says that since 1989, 115 wrongfully convicted people were sentenced to death and later cleared of the charges against them based on new evidence of innocence. Another 1,508 innocent people were cleared after serving years or decades of the type of prison sentence that doesn’t get much news coverage.

Those 1,623 wrongful convictions resulted from 540 cases of mistaken witness identification, 367 cases of misleading or false forensic evidence, 903 cases of perjury and/or false accusation, 750 cases of official misconduct, and 206 false confessions.

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Tom Steyer in Conversation – And Some Follow up Questions

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

Assembly member Jacqui Irwin had a sit down conversation with environmentalist and NextGen Climate president Tom Steyer in Ventura County Tuesday, probing his positions and asking questions based on criticism of his agenda. There needed to be follow-up questions to Steyer’s answers.

For instance, Irwin asked about poorer communities, especially in central California, where there is high unemployment. She wondered how individuals there would be affected by the proposals to cut fossil fuels. Steyer argued that the move toward renewable energy would create jobs for individuals in that area of the state. Steyer said that businesses and jobs are being created in the renewable energy field at a record pace. He claimed that there are 500,000 clean tech jobs, a 17% increase this year.

But the unasked follow up question is what is the immediate impact on the people of the rising cost of fuel through cap-and-trade (Proposition 32) mandates both for gas at the pump and the costs of goods that are being transported.

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Increase Voter Participation by Improving Government

Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen
California Assemblymember, 12th District

Last month, the State Assembly passed bills to make voter registration easier in hopes of increasing participation in elections.  Our democratic system of government cannot work well without informed and active engagement by the people, so I have supported several efforts over the years to boost voter participation, including one of the bills running through the Legislature this year that seeks to ease registration when people visit DMV.

Nevertheless, while bills to increase voter registration may be well intended to ensure that more citizens have the opportunity to vote, they ultimately fail to recognize the real reasons for low voter turnout.  Lawmakers would be wise to start addressing the root causes that lead to voter apathy and low participation in elections.

According to the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll “Building Trust in State Government,” low voter participation is a symptom of the very negative perceptions Californians have about the effectiveness, responsiveness, and efficiency of government.

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Why Californians Are Such Suckers For Superheroes

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 faces a peculiar overpopulation problem: We have too many superheroes.

Missed this news in The Daily Planet? Fear not—your ignorance is understandable. California is not as closely associated with superheroes as New York City (and its fictional doppelgangers), where Superman, Spiderman, and Batman all based operations.

So it’s easy to miss the menace that hangs over the Golden State: California has become dangerously dependent on superheroes.

This peril is most obvious in Hollywood, where superhero films are now almost as common as mortgage-backed securities were in 2006. The stagnant film industry could collapse if the public gets tired of superheroes—two dozen such films, most with huge budgets, are scheduled over the next five years. One studio decided it was time to pit Superman vs. Batman in a coming 2016 thriller, the cinematic equivalent of getting a double-shot espresso, because the single shot doesn’t feel so super anymore.

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Unemployment Rates For Los Angeles Tell A Disappointing Story

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

Last Friday, the California Employment Development Department released the Employment Report for June. The California unemployment rate stands at 6.3 percent, the County of Los Angeles is 7.4 percent and the City of Los Angeles is 7.7 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate is 5.3 percent. While all of these numbers are better than a year ago, the growth in jobs in L.A. City and County is lagging far behind other metropolitan counties in California. Here are the comparisons: San Francisco – 3.5 percent; Alameda (Oakland) – 4.6 percent; San Diego – 5.0 percent; Orange – 4.3 percent; Santa Clara (San Jose) – 4.0 percent. All of these metro counties have a lower unemployment rate than the United States except L.A. County.

That is why the word “finally” came out of my mouth three weeks ago when L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson announced that he was creating a special five-member committee of city council members to develop a plan for increasing employment across the City. The City Council spent the last nine months developing a plan to raise the minimum wage for businesses in L.A., but it has not focused at all on encouraging businesses to grow and prosper in L.A. In fact, the sentiment among many in the business community is that the minimum wage increase will delay the hiring of additional employees for many companies. 

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