Derailing the bullet train

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

A decade ago, shortly after California voters narrowly approved a $9.95 billion bond issue to finance a statewide bullet train system, an official involved in early planning for the project confided a dirty little secret. While a 200-mile-per-hour bullet train was the sizzle sold to voters, he told me, the unspoken motive was getting more […]

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Ricardo Lara’s long, hot summer

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

This has been a long, hot summer for Ricardo Lara, a former state legislator from Los Angeles who was elected as California’s insurance commissioner nine months ago. He’s been hammered by a series of journalistic revelations, mostly in the San Diego Union-Tribune, about how he has indirectly reneged on a campaign promise not to accept […]

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UC imposes political litmus test

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

If you’ve never heard of the Levering Act, you’re not alone. Few Californians are old enough to remember that during the years immediately after World War II, a Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States and its allies generated a wave of popular fear about communist subversion. Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy and […]

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Another Dicey Utility Overhaul

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Californians should always be skeptical when their politicians overhaul the state’s electrical utility system while promising more efficient, less polluting and reasonably priced service. Californians get their juice from a mélange of “investor-owned” and municipally operated utilities. Inevitably, micromanagement of such a complex system via legislation and regulatory agencies becomes an exercise in political horsetrading. […]

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Does Spending More on Schools Pay Off?

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

As Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first budget was being wrought, the perennial issue of spending on K-12 education was thrashed out once again. The education establishment – professional educators, their unions, their political allies and sympathetic academicians  – complained anew that California schools are being shorted the money they need to raise achievement levels of the […]

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Bill Reduces Ballot Measure Transparency

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Given their druthers, many government officials would prefer to do their business – our business, actually – behind closed doors and provide sanitized, self-serving versions of their actions after the fact. Journalists and governmental watchdogs struggle constantly to overcome the tendency toward secrecy and obfuscation, sometimes winning and often losing. Two years ago, in a […]

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Most ‘job killer’ Bills Already Dead

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Going into this year’s legislative session, it appeared that the California Chamber of Commerce’s long string of wins on bills it labels “job killers” might end. Over the previous two decades, the chamber and its allies in the business community had killed or neutralized about 90 percent of the bills on the annual list. In […]

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Vaccination, abortion debates intertwined

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

When Georgia and other red states enacted very tight restrictions on abortions, their political leaders obviously hoped to push the issue back into the U.S. Supreme Court and into the hands of the court’s newly strengthened conservative majority. However, the reignited political and legal conflict over when and how abortions may be performed could have […]

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Blue-state California now harassing journalists

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Let’s assume, hypothetically, that an independent journalist working in Washington somehow obtained a confidential FBI report on the death of a prominent Trump administration official that described its lurid circumstances, including the presence of a woman not his wife and the use of illegal drugs that caused, or at least contributed to, his demise. Let’s […]

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Can California crack its housing nut?

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

The state Department of Finance reported this month that California, which has a stubborn and growing shortage of housing, added just 77,000 houses, apartments and condos in 2018. Actually, private and public housing developers drew permits for well over 100,000 units, and about that many were constructed. But a whopping 23,700 existing homes were burned […]

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