California, Get Ready for President Trump 

Tony Quinn
Political Analyst

Hillary Clinton’s diagnosis of pneumonia, followed by her near collapse at Sunday’s 9/11 remembrance, followed by her dismissal of Trump supporters as a basketful of deplorable racists, followed by a dismal performance at Matt Lauer’s NBC veterans’ forum last week all lead to one conclusion: Donald Trump’s probable election as president in November, and the crisis that will mean for California.

In the past three weeks Clinton’s lead in many of the battleground states has withered away, and these latest incidents are sure to result in a further decline in her once formidable lead.  As veteran Democratic pollster Peter Hart put, Trump just needs “one sane month” and he could well win.

Leaving aside the uncertain sanity of The Donald, almost all the surprises we can expect over the next two months work to the disadvantage of Mrs. Clinton. Julian Assange sits in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London with what may be a number of “smoking guns” from the mysterious Clinton e-mails that could sink her already fragile credibility.   And Clinton’s recent coughing spells only feed her health rumors.

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Could the Chargers Join the Ranks of the Homeless?

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)

No one wants the San Diego Chargers.

A last-ditch ballot measure to support a new stadium for the NFL team (as part of a convention center next to Petco Park) is all but certain to fail on the November ballot. It would raise the hotel tax to help fund the project, and it would need a 2/3 vote, and seems unlikely to get even a majority. The Chargers have been seeking a new stadium for 15 years—and this is the last gasp.

So when the stadium plan fails, the Chargers are expected to leave. But where will they go?

They have the right, at least until early next year, to move to Los Angeles. But L.A. doesn’t want them—they are far less popular than the Rams, who just moved. And the Rams are struggling to build an audience in LA. The Rams also are building a stadium in Inglewood—the Chargers would be an unwelcome second tenant. L.A. doesn’t make sense.

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How to Make Enemies and Influence People With Newspapers

John Seiler
Former Editorial Writer at the Orange County Register

Are newspapers kaput? Not quite yet. And they still will be influential in this November’s election, especially at the state and local levels.

On Thursday, the New York Times ran an article, “Want to Own a Newspaper? A Vermont Contest Has Trouble Finding Takers.” No question about that. Newspapers today are about as valuable as Confederate bonds at a Black Lives Matter rally.

But I think newspapers are using the wrong model. For a century they’ve pretended to be “objective,” with opinions kept to the editorial pages. That’s always been a fiction, as conservatives long have griped, accurately charging the “MainStream Media” with “bias,” as in Edith Efron’s 1972 book, “The News Twisters.”

And whatever you think of Donald Trump, the daily “objective” news assaults on him – sometimes I’ve counted eight a day in the Times itself and the Washington Post – show the veneer of objectivity now is as thin as a Hillary Clinton alibi.

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Eric Garcetti: LA’s Flip-Flopper-in-Chief

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 the 2013 Mayoral race, Candidate Eric Garcetti opposed Proposition A, the permanent half cent increase in our sales tax that would have raised our already regressive sales tax to a staggering 9½%, one of the highest rates in the country.

According to Garcetti at the time, hard-working Angelenos were already burdened by a high sales tax and that “we need to have an emphasis on growing our economy. We can’t tax our way out of this.”

Yet today, Mayor Garcetti is the leading proponent of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s full court press to increase our sales tax by a half cent to the same staggering 9½% that he once opposed.  This new permanent tax will hit us up for $850 million a year and will help finance Metro’s money loosing operations and its very aggressive, debt fueled construction budget.  At the same time, Metro, a large bureaucratic enterprise, is not known for its efficiency, transparency, or accountability.  

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Hold the Outrage on Politicians’ Ballot Measure Committees

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)

“Candidates are increasingly using these committees as slush funds for unlimited contributions from special interests. They’re paying off lawmakers without technically violating the law. It’s disgusting.” — Kathay Feng, executive director of California Common Cause, a leading good-government advocacy group, as quoted by the Bay Area News Group

We are supposed to be outraged by the news, via the Bay Area News Group, that the number of ballot measure committees controlled by candidates has grown over the past decade. Adding to the outrage we must feel: BANG’s analysis that only $1 out of every $4 spent by these committees went to passing or killing measures on the ballot.

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SB 32 and AB 197 Need Amendments

Allan Zaremberg
President and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce

(Editor’s note: Following is the statement issued by CalChamber President and CEO Allan Zaremberg following Governor Brown signing SB 32 and AB 197 into law)

Taken together, SB 32 and AB 197, impose very severe caps on the emission of greenhouse gases in California, without requiring the regulatory agencies to give any consideration to the impacts on our economy, disruptions in everyone’s daily lives or the fact that California’s population will grow almost 50 percent between 1990 and 2030. At the very least, a market-based trading system to find the most cost effective and least impactful reductions should be amended into the law, and this can be accomplished with legislation that requires only a simple majority vote.

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Neighborhood Integrity Initiatives’s Letter to Mayor Garcetti: Either Lead on Planning or Voters Will

David Abel
Publisher of the Planning Report

(Editor’s Note from David Abel; on Wednesday, August 17, leaders of the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative and a representative array of community leaders met with Mayor Eric Garrett in his office to present a letter with detailed demands for long-promised development reform. The demands came with an ultimatum: Agree to the entire list—with enforceability mechanisms—by August 24, or NII will submit its signatures to qualify for the March 2017 ballot. On the other hand, if the mayor agrees to the conditions of the letter, NII promises to halt their initiative campaign. In an exclusive interview, TPR spokewith the Coalition to Preserve Los Angeles’s Campaign Director for the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, Jill Stewart, about the letter’s substance and reasoning. Stewart, a former editor at LA Weekly, also shares many of the lessons she’s learned while campaigning in city neighborhoods)

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State Legislature Aids Business at End of 2015-2016 Session

Gary Toebben
President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

Late on the night of Aug. 31, the California State Legislature wrapped up the 2015-2016 session. The end of the session contained a number of bright spots for the Los Angeles business community.

Two bills were defeated that would have allowed Sacramento to usurp power from local boards. SB 522, then SB 1379 (both Mendoza) attempted to change the composition of the Los Angeles Metro Board of Directors and SB 1387 (de Leon), sought to add seats appointed by Sacramento leadership to the Southern California Air Quality Management District. The Chamber strongly believes regional and local agencies are best-equipped to deliver projects and programs that provide regional benefits and we are pleased to see these two bills defeated.

Other year-end highlights included the passage of:

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Political Paradox? Prop. 59 asks Californians to condemn a big-money system long used here

Laurel Rosenhall
Reporter, CALmatters

Six years after Citizens United—the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that says corporations and unions have a 1st Amendment right to unlimited campaign spending—presidential candidates across the spectrum have condemned the campaign finance system it shaped. “Corrupt,” says Bernie Sanders. “Pernicious,” says Hillary Clinton. “A broken system,” says Donald Trump.

The issue is getting extra attention in California because of Proposition 59, which asks if voters want the state’s elected officials to take steps to try to reverse Citizens United and related cases. It’s an attempt to rein in the influence of lucrative super-PACS on elections. Undoing Citizens United would require either amending the U.S. Constitution or a lawsuit that causes the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse itself. As an advisory measure, Prop. 59 is essentially an opinion poll that lacks authority to directly change the law.

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Promises, Promises

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

Voters, beware the promises you will hear attached to the coming state ballot measures. Given the track record of some recently passed ballot measures, voters should turn a skeptical eye on many of the assurances assigned by initiative promoters.

There were some big whoppers of course, none more so than the high-speed rail that is now projected to be slower and much more expensive than when the kick-off bond was promoted to voters with Proposition 1A in 2008. The cost estimates have bounced as high as nearly $100 billion, well above the $40 billion originally cast as the price for a 200-mph train that would run from San Francisco to Anaheim and eventually San Diego.

While the high-speed rail authority has officially lowered the estimated cost to $68 billion, recent revelations of cost overruns will spiral the cost up once again. No surprise. Oh, and the speed projection has been lowered, the route has been shortened (sorry Anaheim and San Diego) and the number of projected riders needed to sustain the system without taxpayer assistance has been derided (I guess you can say, literally.)

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