Police Shootings, Shooting Police—Broken Trust

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

The only Californian on President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing said we know exactly what to do to confront and correct the dire situation brought on by shootings in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis and Dallas. Acclaimed Los Angeles civil rights attorney Connie Rice said, “You have to completely reform police culture so that they are ready to bond with core communities, so that you can build trust.”

Lack of trust clearly divides many in police departments and communities of color. Given that Dallas police chief David Brown said after the shooting of his officers that police get little community support, I asked Rice if the community has a responsibility in changing the hostile environment.

“That’s the other side of the story,” Rice said. “I had to go the grandmothers because without the community also changing, this won’t work. It cannot be just the cops.”

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Relief from Private Attorney General Act Lawsuits Could Be On Its Way

Maryann Marino
Regional Director, California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

Last week, Governor Jerry Brown signed a budget that included more state oversight over the thousands of frivolous Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) lawsuits being filed against California businesses. Both Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon and Assembly Leader Anthony Rendon also indicated to Assemblywoman Shannon Grove that they would be helpful to her efforts to reform this poorly written law.

PAGA has created a field day for unscrupulous attorneys who sue businesses for thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars for issues of technical non-compliance.

Business owners are sued for not having a beginning and ending date on a pay check stub, a typo in the company name printed on the paycheck, or incorrectly documenting rest and meal breaks. For example, one company in Kern County had to settle for $1.5 million for incorrectly calculating an hourly bonus for workers who worked safely on the job. These infractions cost business owners $100 for the first violation and then $200 per subsequent violation multiplied by the number of employees per pay period over four years.   

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Local Voices Unwelcome As State Promotes Affordable Housing

Susan Shelley
Columnist for the Los Angeles Daily News and Southern California News Group

From 2011 through the first quarter of 2014, more building permits for single-family homes were issued in the city of Houston than in the entire state of California.

That might be one reason that in April, the median selling price of a single-family home in Houston was $217,000 while in California it was $509,100.

There is widespread agreement that housing affordability in California is a problem, but there’s less agreement on what to do about it. Still, we should be able to agree that whatever is done ought to be transparent, publicly debated by the elected officials who represent us.

But that’s not what’s happening. Instead, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders are working on a backroom deal to “streamline” the approval of residential housing projects by cutting local voices out of the process.

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How a Local Mom-and-Pop Dry Cleaners Mirrors the Struggles and Triumphs of South L.A.

President and CEO of Bowers & Sons Cleaners, a third generation family owned and operated, full service, dry-cleaning plant established in 1950

When the property owners on Historic South Central Avenue (from Washington Boulevard. to Vernon Avenue) started one of the first Business Improvement Districts in South L.A., I was surprised to be elected president of the group’s board of directors. I never thought we’d have a business improvement district here. I never thought I’d be running our family’s dry-cleaning business on South Central, either.

But South L.A. has a way of surprising you.

The growth and success we’re experiencing are raising new questions for residents and businesses alike. For example, how do we continue to grow and still preserve what we have? How do we attract new businesses so residents can access conveniences in their own community? And at the same time, how do we make sure that the local mom-and-pop businesses that have been part of our growth don’t get pushed out by the likes of CVS (coming soon) or Trader Joe’s (rumored)?

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Voters Should Focus on 3 Ballot Measures and Ignore the Rest

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)

There are people who will tell you it’s your civic duty to educate yourself on all 17 measures on the November ballot, plus any other measures the legislature might add to the ballot, plus local measures, local races, state races, the U.S. Senate race and the presidential race.

Those people are nuts. You have a life. You have a job. And it’s just totally unreasonable for anyone to expect you to be well informed about more than a handful of measures. Three at the most.

You can ignore the rest.

Is that irresponsible? Not at all. Irresponsible is voting on measures you haven’t followed. And irresponsible is putting 17-plus measures on the ballot in the first place. Irresponsible was Gov. Jerry Brown’s and the legislative Democrats’ decision to move all ballot initiatives to November ballots, creating this logjam.

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Sanchez Needs Hillary Voters to Win

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

The key to California’s U.S. Senate race just may be Democratic voters who rally to the idea of electing the first woman president also wanting to set another first by voting into office the first Latina United States Senator.

Despite Attorney General Kamala Harris decisive primary victory over second place finisher Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, the dynamics of the General Election could prove different. With no Republican in the race, many GOP voters might ignore the senate race as the new Field Poll indicated. However, the recent endorsement of well-known Republican media personality Hugh Hewitt along with the endorsement of former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan could signal a movement of Republicans to Sanchez’s corner.

Sanchez hopes to collect a large Latino vote on Election Day, with the expectation that Latino voting will spike in response to Donald Trump’s harsh rhetoric.

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Proposition 57: Jerry Brown’s Early Release For Violent Criminals

Jon Fleischman
Publisher of the FlashReport

Just a week ago, California Attorney General Kamala Harris released an alarming  report detailing how violent crime in California is on the rise, increasing 10% over the last year.

Violent crimes were up last year by about 15,000 to a high of 166,588. Homicides went up 9.7 percent, robberies 8.5 percent, aggravated assaults 8 percent. Rapes increased 36 percent!

It is in this environment that Governor Jerry Brown has placed before voters this November a ballot measure deceptively titled the “Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016”  – when it might be more accurately dubbed the “Let Violent Criminals Out Of Prison Early Act of 2016.”

The measure, now officially Proposition 57, purports to allow for early release only of those inmates who have committed “non-violent offenses,” but is written in a way that even a spokesperson for the initiative says will only prevent early release for those who committed 23 specific violent crimes.

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Why the World Is Rebelling Against ‘Experts’

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

An unconventional, sometimes incoherent, resistance arises to the elites who keep explaining why changes that hurt the middle class are actually for its own good.

The Great Rebellion is on and where it leads nobody knows.

Its expressions range from Brexit to the Trump phenomena and includes neo-nationalist and unconventional insurgent movement around the world. It shares no single leader, party or ideology. Its very incoherence, combined with the blindness of its elite opposition, has made it hard for the established parties across what’s left of the democratic world to contain it.

What holds the rebels together is a single idea: the rejection of the neo-liberal crony capitalist order that has arisen since the fall of the Soviet Union. For two decades, this new ruling class could boast of great successes: rising living standards, limited warfare, rapid technological change and an optimism about the future spread of liberal democracy. Now, that’s all fading or failing.

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LA’s Mayor Flunks the Budget Test

Jack Humphreville
LA Watchdog writer for CityWatch, President of the DWP Advocacy Committee, Ratepayer Advocate for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and Publisher of the Recycler

In August, the Los Angeles Times awarded Mayor Eric Garcetti a C for his performance during his first two years in office.  While Garcetti received a B+ on his Vision, his overall ranking was dinged by a C- on Leadership and D on Political Courage.

Unfortunately for all Angelenos, the “smooth on the podium” Garcetti has not shown leadership or political courage when addressing our cash strapped City’s budget, its lunar cratered streets, its massive $15 billion in unfunded pension liability, and its antiquated management information systems.

One of the major financial goals of the City over the past decade has been to eliminate its Structural Deficit, where the growth in expenditures (primarily personnel costs – salaries, benefits, and pension contributions) exceeds the increase in tax revenues.  And of course, Garcetti pledged to eliminate the Structural Deficit as part of his Back to Basics program where the City would “live within its financial means.” 

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Checking the Predictions–Taxes that Made the Statewide Ballot

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

Starting over two years ago, I wrote an occasional column conjecturing about which taxes might appear on the statewide November 2016 ballot via the initiative process. Changing political strategies moved the targets over time as I listed what I perceived to be the top five tax items that were being discussed as ballot initiatives. Now that the deadline for confirming General Election ballot measures has come, I can review my predictions and see how I did.

From the beginning it appeared likely many tax initiatives would be pursued. Given that initiative signatures needed to qualify a measure for the ballot was determined by the 2014 gubernatorial vote–a historical low — a hurdle for qualifying initiatives was greatly reduced. Also, the idea that the 2016 presidential election would bring out a higher turnout of voters who might be amenable to supporting tax increases proved an incentive to those who want more taxpayer money for different reasons.

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