What Los Angeles Can Learn From the Warner Bros.

Michael Kelly
Executive Director for The Los Angeles Coalition for the Economy and Jobs

In 1917, Jack Warner was summoned to Los Angeles by one of his older brothers, Sam, to create a foothold in the fledgling movie-making business. The Warner brothers – Albert, Harry, Sam, and Jack – were already well established in the movie exhibition business but saw the real opportunity in producing movies. By 1927, their studio was the first to produce a movie with both sound and dialogue,The Jazz Singer, which went on to set the new standard for the motion picture industry.

Jack was known for his perfectionism and bold leadership style. He sought out the best scripts and story lines, and found creative ways to drive down production costs. His business strategy was “If I’m right 51 percent of the time, I’m ahead of the game.” He underestimated himself. By 1973, the year he walked off the Warner Bros. lot into retirement, he left behind one of the world’s most recognizable brands that went on to produce thousands of movies, television programs, and animated features.

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Speaking Up for Health Policies that Matter

Dr. Roger A. Clemens
Adjunct Professor of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences in the International Center for Regulatory Sciences housed within the Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy at the University of Southern California

There’s a reason we teach our children the fable of the Boy Who Cried Wolf. If we use our voices to broadcast nonsense or empty claims, we run the danger of people tuning us out – and not being heard when we have something important and meaningful to share. Today, our culture is filled with so much chatter that it can be hard to tell what to take seriously and when we need to take action.

Nowhere is this truer than in the public health arena. Numerous voices, all speaking out of concern for the public’s wellbeing, have filled the echo chamber with so much information that it can be tough to sort out what the truth is. In fact, it makes you want to plug your ears.

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The LAO Is Getting Higher Ed Wrong

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)

Recently, one of my weekly syndicated columns at Zocalo Public Square looked at the wrongheaded way Californians think about their own public university systems, particularly the UC. I made a brief, critical reference to the Legislative Analyst’s Office work on this. Now I’d like to expand on it, in hopes that LAO will do some serious reconsideration of how it considers higher education.

Here’s the problem: LAO is way too focused on higher ed as it relates to the budget. And so it has argued for limited enrollment growth at CSU and flat enrollment at UC.

There’s a wonky word that the LAO folks will understand for their position: it’s nuts. Applications to universities in California and elsewhere are way up. And California needs to produce many more college graduates for itself. And California has a huge interest both in luring college kids from other states and keeping the California kids it has paid to educate.

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SB763 Threatens the Credibility of Product Safety Regulations & Consumer Communications

Anne M. Northup
Former Congresswoman and Former US CPSC Commissioner

We are fortunate to live in a country with a strong commitment to consumer safety.

Unlike some places in the world, Americans have a high degree of confidence that the products they see on store shelves or buy online have been evaluated by a trusted regulatory body and are safe.

One such regulatory body is the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), whose mission is to regulate more than 15,000 consumer products, keeping the public safe from preventable injuries and deaths caused by unsafe and defective products.

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Redistricting: How Republicans Dodged a Bullet

Sean Trende
Senior Elections Analyst for RealClearPolitics

Republicans were disappointed when the Supreme Court ruled that the Arizona redistricting panel was constitutional. They shouldn’t have been. Losing that case probably won’t affect Republicans that much. Winning, on the other hand, could have hurt them, badly.

Two states would have had to redraw all of their lines in the event of an unfavorable ruling: California and Arizona. In a best case scenario, Arizona would have netted Republicans two congressional seats and shored up a third, although Republicans would have been reluctant to spread themselves too thin.

But we also have to consider California.

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Immediate Actions Needed to Combat Higher Gas Prices

Senator Ted Gaines
California State Senator, 1st District

Governor Brown and state regulators must take any and all immediate measures available to stop the recent, massive spike in California gasoline prices.

This overnight price explosion is killing California families and businesses and we cannot afford one more day. The California Air Resources Board needs to immediately suspend the expensive special ‘summer blend’ requirement so we can import more gas now. We need to defer the gasoline excise tax. Not in a week or a month but this very minute.”

Supply disruptions are ostensibly behind the price jump, which saw prices shoot up between $0.20-50 per gallon statewide in less than a week. It is unclear when normal supplies will again be available and analysts expect prices to spike even further. Regardless, the price spikes are part of a larger problem in California. 

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Road Tax Approach Similar to Prop 30 Strategy

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

All agree that the roads desperately need revenue yet new funds from the increased budget were not directed to the roads. It’s been that way for some time – transportation infrastructure pretty much ignored by general funds instead relying on shrinking targeted funds. Shorting revenue for a vital service can set up a play for more taxes for that service. It’s happened before in California.

Two years ago, Bloomberg Business ran a lengthy, celebratory piece on Jerry Brown and his governorship. In essence, the writer argued that Brown found a solution to California’s funding problem by cutting programs until it hurt so that voters felt they had to raise taxes.

One gets the sense a similar approach is building support for transportation funds through fees and/or taxes.

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Don’t Trust Anyone Who Won’t Let You Vote on the Internet

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)

They want to make it so much easier for you to vote, say California’s leaders.

It’s hard to believe them.

Then why do their suggestions double down on methods of voting that actually constitute barriers to voting? Instead of eliminating voter registration, they want to expand it. Even as the mail gets less reliable, they want to move us more to mail voting. (And how many young people bother to look at their mail?)

It’s a basic test of seriousness. If you really want to encourage more people to vote – particularly young people – you have to be for Internet voting. It’s where people are.

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Change In Accounting Rule Forces Governments To Disclose Liabilities

John Hrabe
Writer and Communications Strategist

State and local governments will no longer be allowed to hide the true costs of the long-term benefits provided to government workers.

A recent change by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, known simply by the acronym GASB, forces government bodies to be more transparent in reporting pension liabilities and long-term commitments for retiree heath care. Among the changes: the liabilities must be reported on the first page of financial reports instead of being buried in a footnote.

“Applying accounting standards can sometimes be complex, but identifying the right standards to apply should be straightforward,” GASB Chairman David A. Vaudt said of a slew of accounting changes.

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Unions Say Initiative Allows Future Pension Cuts

Publisher, CalPensions.com

A union coalition contends that a proposed initiative is being falsely portrayed as only a potential cut in pensions for new employees, when in fact it could cut or eliminate pensions earned by current employees for work done in the future.

One of the initiative authors, former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, disagrees with the union reading of the proposal. But it’s a key pension reform issue that could lead to another disputed initiative title and summary.

Cutting pensions current workers earn in the future, while protecting amounts already earned, would get the immediate savings sought by those who say “unsustainable” rising pension costs are eating up funds needed for other programs.

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