Did Lorena Gonzalez Vote Against Farm Workers?

Alexander Martinez
Political commentator on Latino community issues.

Last month, Pick Justice Action launched a six-figure ad buy targeting Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez across TV, radio, print and digital advertising, to highlight what they deem as her anti-farm worker record. This may come as a surprise to some who see Gonzalez as a key pro-worker legislator in the state. She’s even garnering some national headlines to the same effect. But as Pick Justice Action points out, once you look at her record, her pristine pro-worker image gets blurry. 

It all started a few years ago, when the United Farm Workers (UFW) union reappeared on a farm after being gone for over 20 years, and tried to force a non-negotiated, government written contract onto farm workers. The workers had never seen this contract and most were not around some two decades prior, when the UFW first came to the negotiating table and then abruptly left after one meeting and disappeared without providing any rational. 

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Contradictory California and the Governor’s Approval Rating

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Gavin Newsom’s approval rating as measured in the recent Public Policy Institute of California poll is mixed at best and just might reflect attitudes toward the contradictions that abound in California. 

Likely voters barely approve of the job Newsom is doing by 48% to 45% while 7% did not express an opinion. With the poll’s margin of error calculation just above three percent, Newsom’s numbers are dead even. Shouldn’t he be doing better in his first year in office—the traditional “honeymoon” period for a newly elected official?

Actually, Newsom’s approval ratings have not moved much since PPIC began polling the popularity of the new governor. California’s likely voters gave him a 43% approval rating in January when he was inaugurated and stayed in the same ballpark throughout the year: 45% March, 47% May, 47% July, 43% September.

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San Francisco Mayor: Hardest Job in America?

Kerry Jackson
Kerry Jackson is a senior fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.

London Breed breezed through her re-election at the beginning of the month, taking almost 70% of the vote in San Francisco’s mayoral race. But in winning, she might have also lost. No big-city mayor in the country has a tougher job ahead of them. 

San Francisco’s troubles start with a hardened homelessness problem, and what might be the most stubborn housing crisis in the nation. And they don’t end there.

San Francisco is being devoured by homelessness. Human feces, human urine, and hypodermic needles blight the streets and sidewalks. Tents block public passage, pedestrians have to step over and around sleeping bodies, and disease threatens public health. Fed-up residents have resorted to placing boulders on sidewalks to block encampments. Activists, who claim to represent the interests of the homeless but are a large part of the problem, pushed them out onto the street, which just added to the problems. Business Insider reported the big rocks created a traffic hazard, forcing the city to move “the boulders back onto the sidewalk via crane.”

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The “Frozen” Tyranny

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)

Our republic has survived the Civil War, the Great Depression, even the 2016 election. But can it survive the new sequel to Frozen?

I doubt it. 

While this decade has seen autocrats rise globally, no unelected ruler of the 2010s has set as seductive an example of unaccountable authoritarianism as Queen Elsa, the monarch in the animated mega-hit 

For all its irresistible songs, Frozen celebrates the illogic of monarchs going back to Louis XIV: l’etat c’est moi, or “the state is me.” The blame for this animated attack on democracy on our fellow Californians—Disney executives, writers and animators who export the narratives that capture children’s imaginations, and thus shape the future. Too often these creative Californians—from a state built on the promise that you can live like a king—prefer tales of princes and princesses whose do not have the consent of the governed.

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California’s working landscape makes $333-billion impact on state economy

Correspondent, California Forward

California’s “working landscape” represents the sixth largest economic sector in the state, outpacing the healthcare, real estate and construction industries. That’s according to a recent report issued by the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR).

“That’s going surprise an awful lot of people, because too many folks here in California just really take our working landscapes for granted,” said ANR Vice President Glenda Humiston, speaking at the California Economic Summit in Fresno earlier this month. Besides traditional agriculture, working landscapes includes fishing, forestry, mining, outdoor recreation and renewable energy.

The report showed that in 2018, direct sales of agriculture contributed more than $263 billion to the state economy and employed 1.2 million people benefitting both rural and urban regions.

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San Francisco Criticism Won’t Hurt Gascón

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)

Is this how San Franciscans express their love?

San Francisco’s mayor and city attorney both appeared to be settling scores when they endorsed Los Angeles D.A. Jackie Lacey in her re-election bid. This endorsement was reported as a snub of George Gascón, the San Francisco D.A. who quit and moved back to L.A to run for the same job there.

But I wonder if they aren’t secretly trying to help Gascón.

We Angelenos have grown to resent San Franciscans, and their disproportionate wealth and power. If Gascón were coming to L.A. with the San Francisco establishment support him for d.a., that support would have been a problem. If San Franciscans like Gascón, why should Angelenos trust him?

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The Attempt to Buy District Attorneys Continues

Michele Hanisee
President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys

After the Supreme court decided Citizens United, special interest dark money flooded political campaigns. District Attorney races, traditionally non-partisan, non-political, were not spared from this onslaught. Eighteen months ago we wrote about an example of this problem. Special interest groups, funded by George Soros, pumped millions of dollars into district attorney races across the county. Their mission was to use Soros’s wealth to radically reshape the criminal justice system.

Rather than engaging the electorate by having an open debate about the criminal justice system, these special interest groups sought to circumvent the entire democratic process by electing candidates who refused to enforce laws passed by the people and their representatives. An odd approach for the man who funds the so-called “Open Society Foundations,” an organization whose stated mission is to “to build vibrant and inclusive democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens.”

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The Complex Spending Limit Was Flawed

Fred Silva
Director of Public Policy, California Forward

In his Friday column, “The Spending Limit is Dead,” Joel Fox is correct that the provisions of the 1979 measure designed to limit state spending simply do not function for the intended purpose of limiting state and local spending.  The idea was to create a spending limit line that only grew with cost of living and population and when tax revenues exceed that line taxpayers would get the “excess” back. Simple in theory but the flaws showed up almost immediately.

During the growth years in the 1980s that line grew at a rate faster than tax revenues so it had no effect on limiting spending. Then in 1986, federal tax changes brought in a “spike” in revenue with an average of $287 returned to taxpayers…and the limit line kept on growing.  As a recession hit in the early 1990s revenue dropped and the limit line kept on growing.

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Worried about social media and elections? What about our public media?

Michael Feinstein
Michael Feinstein is a former Santa Monica Mayor and City Councilmember, a co-founder of the Green Party of California and a June 2018 Green candidate for California Secretary of State.

The recent controversy over Facebook’s decision not to fact-check political ads by politicians — combined with Twitter’s decision not to run any — has shown how intertwined our political culture is with what are de facto privately-owned, public information utilities.

Whether and how to regulate social media giants – including whether to break them up and more – is a critical debate. But lost in this is that social media should be complementing what we do in the public domain, not replacing it nor filling its void.

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The State Spending Limit is Dead

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Once upon a time in California, voters decided that when state and local governments reaped big revenue windfalls strongly exceeding governments’ budgets, some of that excess should go back to hard working taxpayers. Voters passed a strong spending limit 40 years ago. Despite the Legislative Analyst’s Annual Fiscal Outlook Report that the state kitty should see an additional $7 billion–prompting some news reports to calculate the state could enjoy a massive $26 billion surplus next year–there was not a whisper about returning any money to taxpayers. 

That’s because the state spending limit is dead. 

You remember the spending limit, often referred to as the “Gann Limit” after its principal author Paul Gann, that applies to both the state and local governments? You don’t? Well, it hasn’t had much press lately. 

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