Goodbye Payphones, Hello Progress

Kish Rajan
Chief evangelist of CALinnovates, is a non-partisan coalition of tech companies, founders, funders and non-profits focused on the new economy and economic prosperity.

If Clark Kent wanted to turn into Superman in California today, he’d struggle to find a phone booth. Across the entire state there are only 27,000 payphones left, down 70% from 2007.

It’s no big surprise that the payphone is going the way of the dodo bird. According to the Pew Research Center 92% of American adults own cellphones. If you’re desperate to make a call and find yourself with a dead battery, chances are good you’re going to ask a friendly stranger to borrow their cell phone before you’re going to search out a payphone.

Late last month, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that acknowledges the demise of the payphone. SB 1055 puts an end to the Payphone Services Committee and the Payphone Service Providers Committee Fund which was being used to, among other things, “fund programs to … educate consumers on matters related to payphones.”

Let that sink in for a second. As a state, until a few weeks ago, we were still spending money to educate people about payphones — something the vast majority of citizens don’t want or need.

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The New War Between the States

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

In this disgusting election, dominated by the personal and the petty, the importance of the nation’s economic geography has been widely ignored. Yet if you look at the Electoral College map, the correlation between politics and economics is quite stark, with one economy tilting decisively toward Trump and more generally to Republicans, the other toward Hillary Clinton and her Democratic allies.

This reflects an increasingly stark conflict between two very different American economies. One, the “Ephemeral Zone” concentrated on the coasts, runs largely on digits and images, the movement of software, media and financial transactions. It produces increasingly little in the way of food, fiber, energy and fewer and fewer manufactured goods. The Ephemeral sectors dominate ultra-blue states such as New York, California, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Connecticut.

The other America constitutes, as economic historian Michael Lind notes in a forthcoming paper for the Center for Opportunity Urbanism, the “New Heartland.” Extending from the Appalachians to the Rockies, this heartland economy relies on tangible goods production. It now encompasses both the traditional Midwest manufacturing regions, and the new industrial areas of Texas, the Southeast and the Intermountain West. 

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Election Outcome Maybe Predictable, What Happens Next is Not

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.

What may be most telling in the final anticlimactic debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is not a strong premonition of how this race is likely to end——but what could happen after it.

Trump responding to moderator Chris Wallace’s query as to whether he would accept the results of the election answered without hesitation, “You’ll just have to wait and see.”

“What I’m saying is I will tell you at the time. I will keep you in suspense,

At that moment millions of TV viewer’s jaws no doubt dropped across the land!

The response in itself has enough shock value to reverberate for the remainder of the campaign and wiped out any good Trump had done for himself in the first 20 minutes or so of the debate in which there was quite unexpectedly actual substantive discussion and some evidence of decorum.

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Post-debate Wisdom: 90 Minutes to Nowhere

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

Our long national debate-mare is over! But not before GOP nominee Donald Trump succumbed to his strongest opponent—himself. After a strong start, Trump abandoned what one Tweeter called the “Kellyanne Conway Trump” for the “Steve Bannon [Breitbart] Trump.” Or, actually, from the auto-animatron Donald Trump to @realDonaldTrump!

Trump not only refused to repudiate Russia’s Vladimir Putin (Many Republicans still mistrust what Ronald Reagan dubbed the “Evil Empire”). The Donald denigrated a basic tenant of American democracy—the peaceful transition of power–by refusing to commit to accepting the results of the Presidential election. Trump is playing the sore loser card before the game is over.

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Strange Provisions in Proposition 60

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

Proposition 60, the measure requiring use of condoms in adult films, has a couple of noteworthy provisions that could be precedent setting for future initiatives–one not so good; the other, interesting and different, if perhaps unconstitutional. One item deals with enforcement of the condom law and reinforces the idea of citizens substituting for government agencies to bring lawsuits against business concerns. The other deals with punishment for initiative proponents for bringing forth an invalid initiative.

The lawsuit provision allows any resident to complain about a violation of the condom requirement to Cal/OSHA for safety violations. If Cal/OSHA doesn’t act within a certain time period, the citizen can file a civil action against the film producer and recover 25% of any penalties assessed. In other words, every citizen in the state could become a bounty hunter for violations of the law Prop 60 hopes to put in place.

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Prop 54 Will Enact Significant and Lasting Reform in the State Legislature

Tom Scott
CA Executive Director, National Federation of Independent Business

One of the oldest political tricks in the book is to claim something does the opposite of what it actually does. But that is precisely what Proposition 54’s small handful of critics do when claiming the measure will give special interests more power. This is the farce Eric Bauman propagated in his commentary, “Prop 54: Too Good to be True?”  Clearly, Mr. Bauman and his allies would prefer to maintain the status quo in Sacramento and keep voters in the dark so they can continue to hammer out bills in secret that favor their own agendas. But California’s voters aren’t so easily fooled. We know too well that creating more transparency in Sacramento doesn’t empower special interests–secrecy does.

Proposition 54 will create more transparency and accountability by leveling the playing field so that no one industry or group will have more power than another to influence legislation, as a select few currently do. Nor will any group have the ability to rewrite legislation and ram it through for a vote at the very last minute – before anyone else, including many legislators, have a chance to read the bill.

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The Ultimate Recipients of California’s State Spending

David Crane
Lecturer and Research Scholar at Stanford University and President of Govern for California

California’s General Fund will spend $122 billion this fiscal year. The state budget illustrates that spending in the following manner:








But that chart doesn’t show WHO pockets that money. Looked at that way:

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Californians Want Much More From Our Neighborhoods

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 is a state of large things: A 1,100-mile coastline and giant mountain ranges and big roads, bigger cities, and the biggest vistas. In such a sprawling place, with so much disconnection, how much could people care about their own little neighborhoods?

Answer: An awful lot.

This is a state of neighborhoods. And Californians are very devoted to their own. We identify ourselves as residents of neighborhoods (and even intersections) more frequently than as residents of towns and cities. We sense our own health and prospects through the places where we live. While surveys show we are mostly satisfied with our communities and our lives, we also want more from our neighborhoods.

Much more.

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The Unknowns of a Dismal Election

Tony Quinn
Editor, California Target Book

This week large numbers of mail in ballots will begin arriving at county election offices, and shortly we may be able to answer the perplexing unknowns of this dismal election, who is going to vote and will Democratic dreams of an enormous landslide be realized.

Neither presidential candidate is running a real campaign right now; Hillary Clinton’s days are still spent fund raising and her speeches continue to be vacuous platitudes tumbling off her teleprompter.  Donald Trump’s new theme is that the election, which he seems now certain to lose, is being rigged against him by a hostile media.  “”The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary,” Trump tweeted on Monday.

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California State Legislature Picks a Fight with The United States Constitution

Kevin D. Korenthal
Former executive director of the Associated Builders & Contractors, California Cooperation Committee and principal in KORE Communications, LLC, a communications consulting firm specializing in corporate marketing and communications based in Santa Clarita, California.

Yet another new law confirms union control of the California State Capitol. Gov. Brown has signed Senate Bill 954, which restricts what kind of construction industry advancement programs are worthy of inclusion in state prevailing wage determinations.

As you might guess, Senate Bill 954 ensures that employer payments only qualify as industry advancement if they go to an organization affiliated with a union. In addition, the contractor can’t take credit for its payments that go to an industry advancement organization affiliated with a union unless that contractor is bound by a union collective bargaining agreement.

That means that the only sponsorship you’ll see for a high school football scoreboard is the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). And you’ll see union sponsorship of community events but not sponsorship of events from other participants in the construction industry. Only unions can advance the industry in this way.

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