The Audit of the High Speed Rail Authority Reveals the Project Must be Stopped

Morris Brown
Founder of DERAIL, a grassroots effort against the California high-speed rail Project

Chair Jim Frazier in the almost four hour November 29 Joint Audit committee hearing on High Speed Rail made headlines by asking for the firing of Authority Chair Dan Richard.

I see a whole lot of “grandstanding” by Frazier here.  He is attempting to make HSR Authority Dan Richard a scapegoat, while excusing himself, Chair Jim Beall, and other Legislators, as well as Gov. Brown, for not stopping the disastrous actions of the Authority. Frazier and many others knew full well, many of the Authority’s mistakes, and instead “kicked them down the road.”

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Legislature, Newsom have an Ambitious Agenda

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

The Legislature reconvened this week with Democrats celebrating sweeping election wins that give them immense majorities in both sides of the Capitol and they are intending to use them.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom presided over the state Senate’s opening session, saying, “the world is looking to us.” Newsom will be inaugurated as governor a month hence, having promised California voters a much more expansive – and expensive – array of public services, to wit:

“Guaranteed health care for all. A ‘Marshall Plan’ for affordable housing. A master plan for aging with dignity. A middle-class workforce strategy. A cradle-to-college promise for the next generation. An all-hands approach to ending child poverty.”

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Initiative Response as Simple as ABC

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

One can see the potential of initiative storm clouds gathering as the new legislature is sworn in and the agenda plans of what can be safely called one-party government begins to form. Just a couple of thoughts on what could occur via the initiative process based on a new legislative proposal, and the history of a comprise in the last legislative session to avoid one initiative that, in fact, could result in even more initiatives.

An early bill filed by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego, would strengthen labor laws following a California Supreme Court ruling that established ground rules for companies to declare certain workers as independent contractors.

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Does Top Two Mean Democrats Rule Forever?

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)

Republicans face all kinds of obstacles of their own making if they are ever to return to power in California.

They also face a potent opponent in top two.

Indeed, top two now looks like a key piece of the one-party state Democrats are building. It will make it hard for the GOP or any smaller party, old or new, to challenge.

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The Soul of the New Machine

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

Thirty-five years ago Tracy Kidder electrified readers with his “Soul of a New Machine,” which detailed the development of a minicomputer. Today we may be seeing the emergence of another machine, a political variety that could turn the country toward a permanent one-party state.

This evolution has its roots in California, where a combination of Silicon Valley technology, changing demographics, control of media, culture and academia have worked to all but eliminate the once-fearsome state GOP. For all intents and purposes, the California Republican Party has ceased to exist.

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On Day One, Hints of California’s Democratic Agenda to Come

Laurel Rosenhall
Reporter, CALmatters

It’s just the beginning.

California lawmakers kicked off a new two-year session Monday, a day full of pomp and ceremony and not a lot of substance. But a few eager legislators began putting bills across the desk, giving an early indication of some key policy fights that will shape 2019.

Some of the early legislation reflects policy priorities Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom championed on the campaign trail—calling for more housing, health care and early childhood education. (Newsom will be sworn in on Jan. 7.) Other bills amount to a take-two for lawmakers who saw their policies stall out or get vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

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Dianne Feinstein’s Growing Problems

Tony Quinn
Political Analyst

It is hard to find a Democrat who did poorly this year in California, but the state’s senior Senator, Dianne Feinstein, was one. Not only did she have a mediocre re-election, winning by just 54 percent against a weak fellow Democrat, but she is receiving some blame for the poor Democratic showing in November in the US Senate.

While national Democrats scored historic gains in the US House, picking up 40 seats, and among governors of the big states, they lost four incumbent Democratic Senators for an overall loss of two seats in the Senate, a better showing for Republicans than was expected.

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George H.W. Bush in South Central

Robert Naylor
President of Robert W Naylor Advocacy and Former Assembly Minority Leader

I was fortunate enough to be chairman of the California Republican Party 30 years ago when Vice President George Bush was elected president with the help of California’s trove of electoral votes.   (Yes, a different era, the last time a Republican carried the state.)

My encounters with him as Vice President and as a candidate were consistent with everything we have been hearing since his passing—he was a very good man who was disarmingly modest and focused on the people he met in a caring, personal way.

My wife, Linda Kasem, encountered him as President when he cared enough to spend several hours one afternoon in South Central LA after the Los Angeles race riots triggered by the Rodney Kind beating.   Linda was working for Sheriff Sherman Block in support of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Youth Foundation. It was a charity that, with volunteer support of hundreds of sheriffs deputies and major donations from the business community, ran a number of youth centers where at-risk kids could play basketball and other sports, learn to use computers and get good counseling.

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Aubry Stone, RIP

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

Aubry Stone, President and CEO of the Black Chamber of Commerce and a stalwart in the small business community, passed away last week. Stone, who helped create the organization over 20 years ago, was an occasional contributor to this website and, more importantly, a strong advocate for African American entrepreneurs and all small business.

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2019 Brings New Lactation Accommodation Requirements for Employers

Chris Micheli
Chris Micheli is a Principal with the Sacramento governmental relations firm of Aprea & Micheli, Inc.

AB 1976 (Limon) takes effect on January 1, 2019 to require an employer to make reasonable efforts to provide an employee wishing to express breast milk in private with an area in close proximity to her workspace that is not a bathroom.

Existing California law requires every employer to provide a reasonable amount of break time to accommodate an employee desiring to express breast milk for the employee’s infant child and requires an employer to make reasonable efforts to provide the employee with the use of a room or other location, other than a toilet stall, in close proximity to the employee’s work area for the employee to express milk in private.

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