Changing the Rules to Curb the GOP 

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

A new law setting up a redistricting commission in Los Angeles County is the first move by Democrats hoping to take as tight a grip on local elected offices as they have under the capitol dome.

Dan Walters’ Monday column in the Sacramento Bee did an excellent job of dissecting the flaws in SB 958 authored by Sen. Richard Lara and signed into law by Gov. Brown. The statute sets up a 14-member redistricting commission for Los Angeles County with the commission membership reflecting partisan makeup of county voters. As Walters rightly notes, “It’s a recipe for officially bringing party politics into what officially has been, for many decades, nonpartisan local government.” 

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The End of the Post-Partisan Era?

Mark Baldassare
President of the Public Policy Institute of California

baldassare-patisan-gapLast week, a press release from the California Secretary of State touted the record number of 18.2 million California registered voters as a “major milestone.” The new numbers are impressive, but it’s also worth noting that California’s voter registration is in line with its current population trends. Both the number of registered voters and the number of adults who are eligible to vote have increased by about 1 million since September 2012.

What struck me as most significant about the September report—and what went largely without mention in the scant media coverage—is that a partisan shift that has been under way for several years has accelerated during the 2016 presidential election.

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Steve Glazer, Rare Political Leader

David Kersten
Kersten Institute for Governance and Public Policy

The lack of effective political leadership has reached an all time low in California with nearly all establishment politicians denying there are any problems in the state related to the cost of government, particularly pension and public employee benefit costs.

The state’s unfunded pension liability now stands at an estimated $1.5 trillion, but nobody in the California Legislature will even admit there is a problem.   Closer to home in the Bay Area, the BART board has come down hard on State Sen. Steve Glazer for opposing the $3.5 billion BART bond on the November 2016 ballot.  Glazer cites poor leadership, fiscal irresponsibility and mismanagement by the BART board and management.

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Together we can find solutions to California’s housing crisis

Tom Bannon
CEO of California Apartment Association

Timothy Coyle’s October 6th piece here on Fox and Hounds about rent control wasn’t “news” to our members at the California Apartment Association (CAA). We are acutely aware of limited housing stock in California, or “California’s other drought.” The lack of affordable housing in cities across California threatens our economic recovery, as well as the California dream of today and tomorrow. We are the world’s 6th largest economy, but our housing growth has not kept up.

Tenants are demanding action to deal with lack of inventory and rising prices. Teachers, firefighters, peace officers and others are being priced out of the communities where they serve – negatively affecting our cities for years to come. Builders, labor unions and environmentalists are clamoring for action. Tech CEOs struggle to recruit and keep talent. Some local city councils, desperate to do something, are considering rent control measures which will, in the end, only exacerbate the situation. While Governor Brown recently signed several bills that will help with the housing crisis, so far comprehensive solutions have evaded us all.

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Make Sure Your Supermajority Wears a Condom

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)

Californians love sex. They also love supermajorities.

Prop 60 makes history by bringing these two state passions together in one ballot initiative.

Prop 60 requires that performers in pornographic films must wear condoms or take other protective measures. I had previously avoided writing about this initiative because I wondered if it was in good taste, but now that the Republicans have advanced a pornographic nominee for president, I no longer see any reason for restraint.

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The Billionaire Ballot Props Election

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

Let’s look at this year’s ballot propositions as the Billionaire’s Election. While its not unheard of for the very rich to indulge in politics, no less than four of the 17 ballot measures have billionaire backers whose dollars helped get the propositions on the ballot.

Proposition 53 would require a vote of the people for revenue bonds over $2 billion. Tomato farmer Dino Cortopassi funded the signature campaign. While opponents accuse him of using the proposal as a way to thwart the plan for Delta Tunnels that would move water away from his farming operations to southern California, Cortopassi says his goal is to restrict a growing debt in California. Indeed, he ran full page newspaper ads in the past expressing concern about government management and increased debt.

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If Only Jerry Brown Took His Own Advice on Keeping Voting Simple

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)

In vetoing Senate Bill 1288, which would have permitted Ranked Choice Voting in local governments, Gov. Jerry Brown issued a message arguing that elections need to be simpler.

If only he’d take his own advice.

Brown’s veto message was: “In a time we want to encourage more voter participation, we need to keep voting simple. Ranked Choice Voting is overly complicated and confusing. I believe it deprives voters of genuinely informed choice.”

One could have an argument about Ranked Choice voting, but that’s for another day. Instead, why not admire what Brown writes: What a principle!

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The Facts About Transportation Funding and Why We Need More Revenue

Jeffrey Spencer
Executive Director of the Sacramento Transportation Authority

Efforts at converting California vehicles to sustainable fuel sources are successful in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing fuel efficiency. However, one consequence of reduced fuel consumption and an increase in the number of electric vehicles is lower long-term fuel excise tax revenues. A large portion of transportation funding in California is collected at the pump and it is the state’s primary source of funding for the maintenance and repair of transportation infrastructure. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the federal gas tax hasn’t been raised since 1993.

As a result, many counties throughout the state do not have enough funding to keep up with “fix-it-first” projects such as filling potholes or to invest in critical congestion relief projects. The California Transportation Commission reports that most counties have an average pavement rating of “at risk” or “poor” and in Sacramento Countythere are 11,285 miles that need to be repaved. According to the 2016 California Statewide Local Streets and Roads Needs Assessment, this will cost $2.9 billion over ten years.

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Trump’s Not Going Anywhere

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.

Before the lurid video tape revelations about Donald Trump’s sexual conquests, there were ample reasons to question the viability of his troubled candidacy through to the election.

With these disclosures, even the most optimistic assessments cannot overshadow the high-risk strategy which the Trump high command seems determined to employ not by rehabilitating his dismal image among women but by escalating the attack against his female opponent in the most personal terms.

Judging from the reactions by Democrats, Republicans, and Independents and just about anyone who is observing this extraordinary race, this is producing bewilderment.

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