Political Scandal–Is it the Culture, Leadership or is that the Way it Always Was?

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

“Nowadays, people think ‘House of Cards” is a documentary.” John Pitney, Claremont McKenna College professor.

Professor Pitney’s quote in the Los Angeles Times was BEFORE the arrest of Sen. Leland Yee on corruption charges. He was referring to the conviction of Senator Rod Wright and the indictment of Senator Ron Calderon.

Three Democratic state senators in legal trouble shakes whatever faith is left in the government and reaffirms people’s suspicions about government. It also changes the Capitol’s political equation. As Sacramento gallows humor put it, the FBI did what the Republicans could not — end the Democrats’ supermajority.

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Looking from the Inside Out as Gov. Schwarzenegger’s Speechwriter

Gary Delsohn
Former Sacramento Bee Reporter now working for the Chancellor at UC Davis

During the 30 years I worked for newspapers, I twice had the opportunity to spend time inside one of the institutions reporters cover from the outside looking in.

In 2001, I took a year leave of absence from the Sacramento Bee and was allowed to be a fly on the wall inside the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office and wrote a book about it. It was a fascinating and rewarding experience.

The next time was in 2006, when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asked me to be his chief speech writer. I knew if I took the job my newspaper career was probably over, but the opportunity was too interesting to pass up.

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Questioning Sen. President Steinberg’s Leadership

Jon Fleischman
Publisher of the FlashReport

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Much has been written and will be written about the now-unsealed indictment of State Senator Leland Yee. Much has been written and will be written about the upcoming trial of State Senator Ron Calderon. And much has been written about the now completed trial of State Senator Rod Wright, who as we know was found guilty by a jury of his peer of eight felony crimes. It is unprecedented, as far as I know, that three different State Senators have been simultaneously serving under these extreme circumstances.

Darrell Steinberg didn’t sign up to be the President of the Senate in this kind of unprecedented “season of corruption” in the California legislature’s upper house.  That having been said, the institution has needed a Pro Tem who can provide a bright, clear line between ethical, law abiding legislators, which we can hope number 37 – and this criminal element in the Senate, who clearly do not understand the distinction between right and wrong.  Steinberg has fallen far short of the mark.

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Why are D.C. Politicians Sweet on California?

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)

Dear Washington, D.C.,

I know that your politicians will say anything to get elected and your wonks are perpetually grasping at straws. But I find it hard to believe how many people in your town are saying that I, the great state of California, am some sort of model for you and the country you govern.

Strangely, this recent D.C. swoon is not about my good looks. (I still look great, whether you’re gazing up at Half Dome or down the block at a sidewalk full of Southern Californians.) No, it’s about my less flattering side: governance. And still more peculiar is that the compliments headed my way are coming from people across your political spectrum.

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Finally, A Scandal Worthy of This Great State

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)

To be truly great and ambitious, a state must have great and ambitious scandals. But California hasn’t had any recent scandals truly worthy of our size, diversity and importance – until yesterday.

Rod Wright, you say? C’mon. His conviction for not living in his district, and using a residence he owned as his residence for voting, didn’t amount to a scandal. It isn’t even clear what he did was wrong. Congressional members don’t have to live in their districts, and the money that determines representative and elections can come from anywhere. Why not our representatives?

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PPIC Poll: On Taxes Business has a Fighting Chance, the Wealthy Not so Much

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

Lots of numbers in the new Public Policy Institute poll but let’s concentrate on matters of importance to business. Thirty-two percent of those polled identified jobs and the economy as California’s biggest problem. While the jobs and economy issue continues as the top issue for the voters, the number on jobs and the economy as the most important state issue dropped 13-percent over one year, and fell 20-percent from when PPIC asked the question two years ago.

Are things then looking up in the Golden State?

Maybe yes, maybe no. The poll respondents were almost evenly split on whether California was heading in the right direction. Likely voters, however, were more negative with 53-percent choosing the option that the state is going in the wrong direction and 41-percent choosing the right direction.

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Rebuilding the Middle Class

Neel Kashkari
Republican Candidate for Governor of California

When Jerry Brown was first elected to the governor’s office, it was pretty good to be a middle-class family in California. Back then, California ranked 24th in jobs, we had the 11th most educated workforce and we ranked in the middle nationally in terms of poverty.

Now, Gov. Brown is running for an unprecedented fourth term based on his decades of experience – after all, no one has had more influence on California over the last four decades than he has – but his legacy is the destruction of the middle class of California.

Jobs and opportunity have literally disappeared for millions of Californians. Today, California ranks 47th in jobs, 48th in workforce education and 1st in the nation in poverty. Such a slide downwards is hard to comprehend, but it’s sadly true and devastating for millions of families.

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Senator Yee’s Arrest Again Challenges Public Trust

Jim Mayer
Executive Director, California Forward

California State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) was arrested on charges of political corruption and bribery tied to a larger sting underway by the FBI. This marks the third (of just 40) sitting California State Senators to face legal troubles in the past year.

The arrest of another state Senator is a setback for California’s progress toward good governance.

From the beginning, CA Fwd has asserted that public trust is the way to measure governance. It is not an ingredient, it is a result. Trust is the bottom line answer to the important questions: Are public dollars well spent?  Are government agencies working together to improve results? Are elected leaders responsive to the public interest?

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Haley, McConnell, Johnson Talk Jobs and California Economy at Lincoln Club Retreat

Judy Lloyd
President of Altamont Strategies

Being a Republican in California is a lonely job only made bearable with a little help from our friends across the country.

That was certainly evident at the Annual Spring Seminar, hosted by The Lincoln Club of Northern California, an organization of high profile business leaders and Republican donors who favor freer markets and less government. The Seminar was held in gorgeous Pebble Beach this past weekend.

The Club has been a favorite for national players. High level donors and business people in the Club serve as policy advisors and give generously on the national, state, and local levels.

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This Fracking Horror Story Is Bad Fiction

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

An evil corporation aims to flood the earth’s crust with water, causing massive earthquakes and threatening the survival of humanity! Sounds like a movie? Of course it is.

But it’s also an insane scenario being peddled by the Center for Biological Diversity, and given life by legitimate mainstream media.

The Center claims that the use of hydraulic fracturing technology to produce oil is causing “swarms of earthquakes” across the nation. And this being earthquake country, warns that “millions of Californians live in areas threatened by oil industry-induced earthquakes.”

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