Harris the Interrupter

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

When you’re the last in the lineup of many senators to speak in the nationally televised hearing for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and you know many viewers will have turned off the proceedings when your turn arrives, you find a way to jump the line, especially if you are running for president. That’s what California’s junior senator Kamala Harris did at the Kavanaugh hearing, interrupting seconds into the opening remarks of the committee chairman, Charles Grassley.

Harris’s motion to delay the proceedings was not her idea alone. Many other senior Democratic senators would make the same request. But Harris did it first and early because if she waited her turn all those other senators would have spoken before her and the viewers wouldn’t have given much notice to the California presidential aspirant.

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Split Roll Property Tax Won’t Yield Expected Revenues; May Cause Havoc

Wayne Lusvardi
Wayne Lusvardi is a real estate and public utility appraiser and former chief appraiser at California’s largest urban water district. He was a water, energy and tax analyst for the Pacific Research Institute.

Because activists, academics and government analysts don’t seem to understand how income property markets work, California’s proposed split-roll property tax is not likely to generate expected revenues.

Most policy makers think that higher tax rates result in greater tax revenues.  But income producing property markets work inversely to taxes by lowering property values when taxes are increased. This market adjustment process is called by the term “tax capitalization”, which means converting the net income of a commercial property into a higher or lower value depending on the change in net income.

850,000 signatures have been gathered in California in support of a voter initiative that would supposedly increase property taxes by 2020 for commercial and industrial properties to get around Proposition 13 property tax protections. The initiative would leave small business and residential properties alone. It is called the California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act

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The Modesto Girls

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)

California changes too fast. The new so quickly replaces the old. People come and go with a blur. I often feel like you can’t count on anything staying here anymore.

But you can count on the Modesto Girls.

These five sisters—my first cousins, once removed—have never had glamorous jobs. They didn’t get fancy educations. Little in life has come easy to them.

But they are always there when there’s work to be done, when my mom’s side of the family is in need, or just when you happen to need them. They are the people who come over to your house—and before you know it they’ve cleaned the place and cooked you a meal.

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LA’s Liability Claims Are Out of Control

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

Liability claims against the City of Los Angeles have caused continuing nightmares for the City’s budget mavens.

Over the last five years, the total payouts and settlements for legal actions totaled $541 million, an average of $108 million a year, double the amount for the previous five years (2009-2013) of $264 million, an average of $53 million a year.

This problem has been compounded by the fact that the City has underestimated its Liability Claims as payouts and settlements over the past five years have exceeded the budgeted amounts by $234 million, an average of almost $50 million a year. 

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Can The Progressive Wave Hold Water?

Sherry Bebitch Jeffe & Doug Jeffe
Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, Professor of the Practice of Public Policy Communication, Sol Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California, and Doug Jeffe, Communications and Public Affairs Strategist

Votes are in from Coast to Coast and the Democratic left is feeling good.  That said, the Democratic center is hardly in retreat.

First of course, there were shockwaves when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old Democratic activist and a member of the Democratic Socialists of America who was running her first campaign, beat 10-term incumbent Congressman Joe Crowley in New York’s CD 14 Democratic Primary in June.

Since her surprise conquest, Ocasio-Cortez has been touring the country as the new face of the “progressive” wing of the Democratic Party.  Her victory in a minority-majority Congressional district can’t be totally chalked up to ideology.  Ocasio-Cortez mounted a strong, organized grass-roots campaign, while Crowley paid little attention to his constituency (despite—or because of–a campaign war-chest ten times greater than his opponent’s) and gave more attention to his Democratic leadership position in the House. 

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The Case for Situational Ethics in Sacramento Shoves, Hugs, and Noogies

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)

I’m tempted to treat our state’s political players in Sacramento like I do my kids, and tell them to keep their hands to themselves.

The problem is that doesn’t work with my kids, at least not for long. And it’s unlikely to deter Sacramento

Politics, like it or not, is a tactile business, not a sterile one. It involves – and indeed requires – human touch. And when humans start touching each other, conflict is inevitably one result.

Over the past year, we have seen endless controversy from Sacramento over questions of touch. And there has been retribution, investigation and argument.

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Now He Belongs To The Ages

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

Sen. John McCain didn’t quite make it to the presidency but he might have worn the title easily had history gone another way.

In an extraordinary lifetime of achievements that catapulted him from naval hero and prisoner of war to re-election to the Senate where he was serving his sixth term, McCain demonstrated the highest values of those called to public service.

Brought to “lie in state” in the Capitol Rotunda—he is only one of 31 American leaders including Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Lyndon Johnson, John Kennedy and 13 Senators ever to be so honored.

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Required Vote For Local Tax Increases In Legal Limbo

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

California’s booming economy is pouring many billions of additional tax dollars into state and local government treasuries.

Nevertheless, the locals – cities and school districts, especially – find themselves in an ever-tightening fiscal vise because mandatory payments into public employee pension funds are growing much faster than revenues.

That’s why dozens of them are asking their voters this year to approve new taxes, although they typically, for political reasons, don’t specify pensions as the reason.

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Happy Labor Day!

Fox and Hounds Daily Editors

Happy Labor Day! Fox & Hounds will resume posting on Tuesday, September 4th.

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Quotas and Boycotts

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

As the legislature winds down its activity for the year, the age-old issues of quotas and boycotts interfering with business operations have surfaced once again.

There are many laws that prohibit discrimination in the business world based on attributes such as race, religion and gender, but the California legislature is attempting to legally create discrimination by requiring that women sit as members of the board of public traded companies. The debate over quotas is back and sure to expand.

SB 826 requires each publicly held corporation with its principal executive offices in California to have at least one female director on its board beginning in 2019 either by filling a vacant board seat or expanding the board.

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