A Post-Janus Agenda for California’s Public Sector Unions

Ed Ring
Ed Ring is the vice president of research policy for the California Policy Center.

“If you do not prevail in this case, the unions will have less political influence; yes or no?” Kennedy asked. “Yes, they will have less political influence,” Frederick answered.
–  an excerpt from the Janus vs. AFSCME trial, quoted in the Washington Post, February 26, 2018

Earlier this week the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the Janus vs. AFSCME case. Mark Janus, a public employee in Illinois, is challenging the right of unions to charge “fair share” fees, because he disagrees with the political agenda, which he claims his fees help pay for.

What if government unions were accountable to their members? What if the politics of these unions mirrored the politics of the members? Would Mark Janus still want out?

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Sunlight Peeks into Palo Alto

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

On February 26 the Palo Alto City Council voted 9–0 in favor of a proposal to uncloak negotiations with the city’s public employees. The next step is to meet and confer with public employee unions, which is required under current state law. (You read that right. As explained here, under current state law the taxpayers of Palo Alto are not permitted to observe negotiations about their largest expenditures without the consent of the recipients of those expenditures.) Stay tuned.

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Are California Voters Ready for Changes?

Richard Rubin
Attorney Richard Rubin has taught public policy at USF, UC Berkeley and other institutions and is Chair of the California Commonwealth Club Board of Governors

The California Democratic Party’s denial of its endorsement to veteran U.S. Senator, Dianne Feinstein (D-SF), at its recent convention in San Diego, was a slap in the face.

But reading too much into it would be a mistake and most voters were probably unaware it even took place.

Democrats are by nature a querulous lot who these days have little in that regard on their fellow Republicans. They have both descended into internecine warfare.

The fact is in the current over-heated atmosphere both major parties have declared unremitting war on each other and the internal feuding has also been heightened by the shock waves still reverberating from Donald Trump’s discomforting achievement.

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You Can Get Rid of the Councilman, but Not the Teacher

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)

Gregory Salcido, an El Rancho High School teacher and Pico Rivera city councilmember, has been criticized nationally for telling a class, in remarks recorded on video, that military members are “dumbs—s” and “the frickin’ lowest of the low.”

Salcido will continue to face criticism for those statements. And he probably will be recalled from, or forced to resign, his position as a city councilman.

But don’t hold your breath waiting for him to be fired from the high school.

Once the political process plays out in Pico Rivera, look for this white-hot story to become a tale of how difficult it is to fire a tenured teacher with experience in California.

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Proposed Internal Combustion Engine Ban Would Devastate California Economy

Ronald Stein
Founder of PTS Staffing Solutions, a technical staffing agency headquartered in Irvine

California’s relentless crusade against emissions effectively camouflages its voracious need for revenues.

AB32, the original landmark bill was signed into law in 2006 when California contributed one percent to the world’s greenhouse gases. While the cap and trade program has been a cost effective method of reducing CA’s greenhouse gas emissions, the program does next to nothing to reducing global emissions. A decade later, in 2016, the California Energy Commission said we still contributed a minuscule one percent to the world’s greenhouse gases, but it has successfully extracted more than $7 billion dollars of revenue from our citizens to fund a multitude of governmental pet projects.

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Housing Shortage = California Brain Drain

Charles Crumpley
Editor and Publisher of the San Fernando Valley Business Journal

My oldest son and his significant other, both thirtysomethings, have been working hard and saving money for years. A few months ago, they decided it was time to graduate from their apartment and buy a house. They were eager to claim this important benefit of the American Dream.

They found a nice little house and quickly made a full-price offer. I’m still shocked that a small place without a garage can cost more than $1 million, but the home caught their fancy. They were excited and talkative about the notion of buying it.

Their prospects seemed bright, but then someone swooped in with an all-cash offer and made off with their house.

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ICE Gets the Schaaf

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

The war of words between Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) acting director Thomas Homan over Schaaf ‘s warning that ICE was about to raid Northern California counties looking for illegal residents could bleed into another major issue rising in California this election year—crime.

Schaaf said she issued her warning because she wanted residents to know their rights and wanted to keep families together. Homan said ICE was looking for criminal illegal aliens through these raids because lack of cooperation from sanctuary cities would not permit cooperation to nab criminal illegal aliens in jails.

Questions arise that deal with the issue of crime and criminals—a concern increasing in California that goes beyond the immigration debate and involves laws passed by voters to open the jails for some prisoners.

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Top Two Turned California Politics Into an English Murder Mystery

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)

When is a run for office not just a run for office? In California under the top two system.

Or to put it another way: Top two has turned California politics into an English murder mystery. Every candidate is a suspect.

Amanda Renteria, a longtime political aide and strategist, is the latest to experience this reality. Her jump into the governor’s race was not accepted at face value—and not just because it came late or because she was slow to address her candidacy.

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Since Drought is the New Normal, Why Aren’t We Maximizing Proposition 1 Funds?

Maria Mehranian
Managing Partner and Chief Financial Officer of Cordoba Corporation and a former member and Chair of the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board.

In recent Fox & Hounds columns, Fox & Hounds Editor and Co-Publisher Joel Fox and the Bay Area Council’s Vice President for Public Policy Adrian Covert rightfully question why the $2.7 billion dollars set aside for additional water storage as part of voter approved $7.5-billion water bond proposal, Proposition 1, has not yet been fully allocated.

While water storage is an important component of California’s overall water strategy, we must also ask the same question about the $4.8 billion earmarked by the passage of Proposition 1 in 2014 for other water quality, water recycling, wastewater, drinking water and groundwater projects.   Why have so many of these projects not yet materialized?

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A Case Study on Why We Need Competition

Leron Gubler
President & CEO of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce

In the 38 years that I have worked in the City of Los Angeles (at two chambers of commerce), I have never seen anything quite like the rollout of RecycLA. It is fair to say that it has been nothing short of a disaster.

Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez has had a field day skewering the program. The Wall Street Journal has editorialized against it. Some councilmembers are now calling for a study on how to kill the program, and there is even the threat of a citizens’ initiative to force the City to pull the plug.

Since July, the Times reports there have been more than 28,000 complaints of missed collections and poor service. Rates have skyrocketed. We have members who report their trash collection fees have more than tripled – and unfortunately this is not a rare occurrence. Ratepayers report sharp increases across the board from when they had control of their own trash services. The City Council has begun holding hearings to determine where things went wrong – time that they could be spending on other important matters if they didn’t have an unfolding debacle with which to deal.

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