Meg Being Meg

John Seiler
Former Editorial Writer at the Orange County Register

One of the more humorous times I’ve enjoyed in my 41 years in journalism was Meg Whitman blowing $180 million in her 2010 run for governor against Jerry Brown. For that she got 40.9 percent of the vote, just above the 40.0 percent Neal Kashkari got in 2014 spending almost nothing.

I wrote about her on Aug. 4, 2010 on The reference is to her opposition to Proposition 23, which would have repealed AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which still is killing what’s left of California manufacturing. “Basically, these rich Silicon Valley liberals, including Meg, want to make California an eco-utopia for their offices and homes, but to put the ‘dirty’ parts of their industries in other states and countries,” I wrote. “Which is where millions of jobs are headed.

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Investing In The Incarceration Of Youth, Is No Investment At All.  

Daniel Silva
Daniel Silva is the Founder of Self Awareness & Recovery (SAR), a former inmate, and is a passionate reform and rehabilitation advocate.

I am a 50-year-old man who has spent 39 years of my life behind bars.

Millions of taxpayer dollars were spent to incarcerate me in juvenile camps and the state’s prison system, where I was given a life sentence for murder.

Life could have turned out differently for me, if I had the guidance and support I needed as a child who took to the streets to escape family dysfunction and abuse. Now that I am back in the community, I devote my life to helping young people stay in school and out of prison. That’s why I’m supporting the #SchoolsNotPrisons concert tour, which calls attention to issues I know all too well.  

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Contrary Goals of the Tobacco Tax

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

What is the tobacco tax increase for? Is the tax proposed in Proposition 56 to reduce smoking or to gain revenue? It seems the proponents’ goal is to be all things—a deterrent to smoking by raising the cost, plus raising revenue mostly for health care. Can they really have it both ways?

Raising the cost of a product means you will get less of it. The idea behind raising the cost of cigarettes and other tobacco products is to diminish and even eliminate their use. Previous tobacco tax increases have been accompanied by reduced use.

In a new study by the Proposition 56 campaign aimed at convincing the business community of the measure’s positive economic impacts, additional costs for a single smoking employee in health care costs and reduced productivity is calculated to be more than $5,000 per year.

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Why California Needs to Reconsider Our Own Paths of Globalization

Michael Bernick
Former California Employment Development Department Director, whose newest book is The Autism Job Club (with R. Holden).

brexitThough it has been little more than a month since its passage on June 23, Brexit already is fading in the rear mirror in American policy discussions. We should not let it disappear so easily, for it has lessons for the United States and for us in California .

Brexit not only laid bare the anger at globalization. It also brought needed challenges to the ways globalization was being implemented by the European Union. Whether or not you supported Brexit (or even followed the process), recognizing these challenges can guide us in the nation and in California with our globalization strategies going forward.

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Climate Retreat? Legislature Could Ditch Plan To Radically Cut Emissions

Laurel Rosenhall
Reporter, CALmatters

Gov. Jerry Brown has taken the national stage to tout California’s fight against global warming, telling cheering throngs at the Democratic National Convention that the state has “the toughest climate laws in the country.” Yet inside the state Capitol, the fate of the policy’s centerpiece—legislation to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions—is in peril.

One ominous sign: The Democratic leader of the Assembly has not thrown his weight behind the bill.

“For us, it’s not imperative that it get done this year,” said Anthony Rendon, who has a background as an environmentalist but rose to speaker this year with support from a powerful bloc of business-friendly Democrats. “It’s a program that has had its success, but at the same time there are some corrections that could be made. We just want to make sure that if we’re going to set something up for the long term, that we get it right.”

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California’s Stressed-Out Stoners

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 tokers, why are you trippin’ so hard?

You keep saying that marijuana helps manage anxiety. But those of you who work in or partake of the cannabis industry sound like the most stressed-out people in California.

And that leaves me wondering what’s in your bongs, especially since 2016 is supposed to be a year of great triumph for you. Cannabis is booming in California. New regulations on medical marijuana are coming together, and a November ballot initiative to legalize recreational use seems likely to pass. California is thus well on its way to becoming Mary Jane’s global capital, and a national model for how to pull cannabis out of the black market shadows and into the legal light.

So if the future looks so dank (that’s stoner-speak for awesome), why do you all look so wrecked?

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Why is CalPERS Underperforming?

John Seiler
Former Editorial Writer at the Orange County Register

seiler_calpersunderperformingThe biggest fiscal challenge facing California remains underfunded pensions. Ed Mendel’s site featured a great chart showing how CalPERS’ current 75 percent level of funding has failed to repeat two previous restorations of value to above 100 percent. That article comes shortly after the fund reported its lowest gains since the Great Recession.

Why is this happening? I think there are two reasons.

First, check out this new chart from the Chart of the Day site (to the left):

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Xenophobia, Trump and Trumka           

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)

Donald Trump’s xenophobia is undeniable. He’s built a campaign on blaming foreigners, be they immigrants in the U.S., global refugees, or just anybody overseas. And they are blamed for everything — for trade deficits, lost jobs, terrorism and just about anything that comes to his bigoted mind.

The Democrats and Democratic interest groups are rightly making a big issue of this. But they are also appealing to xenophobia. While the party is strongly supportive of immigrants, it’s not very kind to foreigners overseas. In fact, its nominee Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and trade unions are blaming foreigners for all kinds of economic problems, without evidence. Specifically, they are pinning way too much on trade and trade agreements – and spouting the Trumpian notion that foreigners are cheating us.

The Democrats need to be called on this. This trade-based xenophobia is unsupported by facts. And it undermines their arguments about Trump when they sound just like Trump.

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The Time is Now for the California WaterFix

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

Last week, the State Water Resources Control Board began a series of hearings on the California WaterFix, the plan to update the state’s aging water infrastructure. Our Southern California region is highly dependent on this infrastructure, with one-third of our fresh water flowing from the Sierra Nevada Mountains through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

In total, 25 million people throughout the State depend on the Delta for their water supply. The Delta system operates with a series of half-century old levees, which are at risk from earthquakes and floods that would cause saltwater contamination, thereby decimating our clean water supplies. The current system is also inefficient, unable to fully capture and store water. Equally important, fixing the Delta will protect the environment and the unique ecology of the area by eliminating the reverse water flows that are harmful to water life and habitat. Combined with the Eco Restore plan, which outlines 12 environmental commitments, including the restoration of 30,000 acres of wetlands, tidal zones and floodplains, these two plans meet the State’s co-equal goals of water reliability and protecting the Delta ecosystem.

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Two Reporters Walked Into a Bar…

Joseph Vranich
The Irvine-based Principal of Spectrum Location Solutions helps companies plan and select ideal sites for new facilities across the U.S. and internationally.

Well, not really. Two reporters moved from California to Texas and last week both of them wrote stories about companies moving to the Lone Star State.

In the Dallas Morning News, Jill Cowan wrote a piece about how financial firms are shifting their business operations out of hyper-expensive New York City to “lower cost, more business-friendly environments.” Although Phoenix won the top spot, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin came in second, third and seventh, respectively, for financial services job growth in the 2008-2013 period. If you are in the financial services industry, this is an excellent story to read. See “Y’all Street: Could Dallas oust New York City as a global financial capital?”

Meanwhile, another former Californian, Katie Burke, reported on a high-growth software company, Rev-Ignition, relocating its headquarters from Ontario, Calif. to Texas. See the San Antonio Business Journal story “Payment software company relocates CA headquarters to San Antonio.”

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