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The Challenge Libertarians Face to Win American Hearts

Ed Ring
Executive Director, California Public Policy Center

In California, the root cause of government waste, failed programs, high taxes, debt and deficits, regulatory abuse, civil rights abuse, and even corporate cronyism is public sector unions. Their agenda is intrinsically in conflict with the public at large because any government program, any government regulation, any tax and any new debt, benefits them regardless of the cost or benefit to society.

In California, public sector unions collect and spend over $1.0 billion per year in dues. Their combined political spending and lobbying easily exceeds a half-billion per two-year election cycle. They are by far the most powerful special interest in California. Businesses embrace cronyism because they have no choice. The unions rule. Businesses either make a deal with the unions who run the state and local agencies, so they can get a subsidy or favorable regulation, or they can fight an irresistible machine.

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Covered CA Blames Cronyism on Obamacare Scramble

James Poulos
Staff Columnist, Orange County Register

In an embarrassing new black eye for Covered California, the state’s implementation of Obamacare, the health exchange, has admitted it violated accepted practice by awarding $184 million in so-called “no-bid” contracts, according to a new report by the Associated Press.

State governments routinely consider competing bids for work. It’s a process designed to prevent corruption and the appearance of impropriety.

In the past, government contracting that skirts the process has been a target of prominent Democrats. During Republican President George W. Bush’s 2004 run for re-election, Democratic rivals Sen. John Kerry and Sen. John Edwards campaigned against the energy company Halliburton’s no-bid government contracts in Iraq. Republican Vice President Dick Cheney had been the head of Halliburton.

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Kashkari’s Attention-Getting Ad has a Point

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

Neel Kashkari’s campaign for governor sought to gain attention with its first statewide television commercial and succeeded. The ad titled Betrayal depicts a boy drowning before being pulled to safety by Kashkari. The boy is symbolic of the school children Kashkari asserts have been abandoned by Governor Jerry Brown when he appealed the Vergara vs. California case.

The judge declared in Vergara that conditions in California schools for minority students “shock the conscience” in concluding that “grossly ineffective teachers” protected by the state’s teacher tenure laws deny minority students constitutional protections for an equal education.

Kashkari’s attention-getting ad is intended to get the media and, through the media, the people talking about this issue. With the one sided advantage the governor has in financial resources Kashkari is relying on an edgy campaign commercial to get his word out.

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Shameful Journalistic Abdication on Prop 2

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)

A hefty chunk, perhaps the majority, of media coverage of California governance in recent years has been about the budget. So why isn’t the media applying even the most basic scrutiny to Prop 2, the so-called “rainy day fund” measure that is on the ballot?

People are already beginning to cast votes, but the California media has given a one-sided accounting of Prop 2, portraying it as a common-sense, how-could-anyone-oppose-this measure. I have looked for critical analysis of the measure and how it might work in the popular press and radio. Instead, the propaganda of its backers has been repeated.

I realize that the subject is complicated – in fact, the complexity is probably the biggest problem with the measure – but that shouldn’t be any excuse. For a breakdown of what the measure might mean – nobody knows for sure – you can’t do better than the California Budget Project’s analysis. If you’re a reporter who has written about Prop 2 and hasn’t read that analysis, shame on you. And here’s the link.

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The Environmental Movement Has Become the Environmental Industry

Writer on culture and politics for CityWatch

Who would imagine that investment bankers and venture capitalists would be leading the next environmental revolution? Maybe not all of them, but there were certainly a lot of the financial types mixed in with visionary engineers and builders at the GloSho, a workshop on what is colloquially referred to as green tech. One conclusion: building a more efficient electric motor or recycling agricultural waste may be more effective ways of saving the planet than paying dues to your friendly environmental organization.

The meeting, held at the LA Theater Center, was sponsored by the LA Cleantech Incubator] (Laci for short) this week of October 6, 2014. It was remarkable for the breadth of subject matter as well as for the collection of companies and, indeed, countries that are working hard to make green technology a reality.

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Anti-Fracking Fervor Builds In CA Even As It Lifts U.S. Economy, Stature

Chris Reed
San Diego Union Tribune editorial writer and former host of KOGO Radio’s “Top Story” weeknight news talk show

Anti-fracking sentiment in California continues to build, and we’re likely to see a spate of local moratoriums aimed at blocking the oil-drilling process in many cities and counties. This is happening even in places not normally associated with petroleum production, as this Orange County Register story makes clear.

In Brea, residents started researching fracking, gathering information about polluted water wells and increased seismic activity in other areas across the country, such as Oklahoma, where scientists have linked wastewater injection wells with an increased number of earthquakes.

Initially, Fujioka – the Brea fracktivist – didn’t even know fracking was happening near homes and schools, but she soon found out using online mapping tools.

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Updating 911 Location Standards Could Save 1,200 Lives Each Year in California

RIck Roelle
Retired San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Lieutenant

Did you know that when a person calls a 911 operator from a mobile phone, they often aren’t able to locate the caller? If this is startling to you, it should be. As a retired Deputy Sheriff, I can tell you that every minute that first responders need to spend trying to find the callers who need their help could be the difference between life and death.

It’s not that the technology isn’t available, because it is. In fact, there is a pretty easy technological fix to this problem — unfortunately, phone carriers are hesitant to implement the fix.

Earlier this year, the FCC proposed a rule that would update their standards regarding location accuracy for 911 calls, and put in place a commonsense calendar for implementation of the necessary technological updates over a two-year period. With these updates, police, fire, and emergency care personnel will be able to quickly locate and help those in need of protection, rescue, or care.

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Minimum Wage Truth and Consequences: Who’s Listening?

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

Let’s hope that voters become more engaged in the minimum wage debate than some elected officials.

Voters will be subject to counterarguments in the minimum wage debate. Raising the minimum wage will undoubtedly make things better for minimum wage workers – more to spend, raising some out of poverty. At the same time it likely will cost some minimum wage workers their jobs and raise costs for all consumers, including, of course, those minimum wage workers who get a raise.

California cities are in the forefront of the debate. San Francisco voters will consider raising the minimum wage from $10.74 an hour to $15 by 2018. Oakland voters will be asked to raise the minimum wage from $9 an hour to $12.25 by March 2015. San Diego faces a referendum in two years over a minimum wage increase passed by the city council over the mayor’s veto.

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The President Should Visit All of California

Congressman Kevin McCarthy
Majority Leader, United States Congress

The President came to Los Angeles and San Francisco to talk about how great the economy is doing. While it may look good for some in Los Angeles and San Francisco a trip throughout the Golden State would show the President that many Californians are frustrated with his Administration’s economic policies.

The President should take a trip through Bakersfield and into the Central Valley, where the nation’s largest vegetable, fruit, and nut producers are located. Right now the drought has made life tough for people in Central Valley communities, and the Obama Administration’s policies sure haven’t helped. Sadly, the Obama economy and the Administration’s harmful water regulatory burdens have left California in a far more precarious place than West L.A and San Francisco.

Labor force participation in California is only 61.9 percent, below the national rate of 62.7 percent, which is a full 3.4 percent lower than in 2008. Unemployment in counties across California, especially in the Central Valley, is still in the double digits.

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California Bad to its Bones

Joel Kotkin
Editor of and Presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University

Any serious student of California knows that the state’s emergence in the past century reflected a triumph of engineering. From the water systems, the dredged harbors, the power stations and the freeway system, California overcame geographical limits of water, power and its often-unmanageable coastline to create a beacon of growth and opportunity.

That was then, but certainly not the case today. Indeed, since the halcyon postwar days of infrastructure-building under Gov. Pat Brown, roughly one-in-five dollars of state spending went to building roads, bridges, water systems and the like. Today, this investment amounts to less than 5 percent.

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