Stop the Rhetoric: Meetings Mean Business and Jobs

Caroline Beteta
President and CEO of Visit California

Because of the irresponsible actions of a few Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) recipient companies, there’s recently been a movement to prevent TARP recipients from hosting, sponsoring or paying for any conferences, holiday parties or entertainment events during the year in which they receive funds. Because I have built my career on promoting many aspects of sound public policy for the Golden State, I applaud efforts by the federal government to stop abuse of TARP funds. However, the ill-informed, anti-meetings rhetoric that is a popular bandwagon these days is seriously harming a legitimate and relevant industry. Now is not the time to stop holding meetings and events, as they can actually help spur more economic growth.

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Legislator Shish Kabob

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)

Even a guy like me, living on the west side of Los Angeles in the shadow of a government-run art museum currently running an exhibit by contemporary Germans (LACMA), has gotten the news that California conservatives are sticking to their principles in these dark times and opposing things that would bring our society to ruin. Those evils are: European socialism. Governor Schwarzenegger. President Obama. Bailouts. Those gay people who are conservative enough to want to marry. And anyone who negotiates with Democrats.

I’ve been critical of this kind of thinking in this space. I believe I called it cult-like. But the Fullerton rally this weekend shook me up. What people! What power! What principle! And so I’ve been thinking things over, and now I’m sure I got it wrong. I apologize.

So go ahead, conservatives. It’s now or never. Stop the big spending socialists. Keep saying no. Stick to your principles. In fact, take those principle sticks and put some heads on ‘em.

You want to recall the legislators who voted for the budget deal? Recall them.

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Don’t Call the Cavalry, Call the Indians

Harvey Englander
Managing Partner, Englander Knabe & Allen

When you hear that budget bugle call for help, the best cavalry out there that could come to our rescue is made up entirely of Indians, members of the California Tribal Gaming Association and their associates. They could have more direct impact on the outcome of California’s economic future than any other group because they’ve bought the legislature several times over at a cost of many millions. They have real clout and it’s in their best interest for the state to recover and succeed quickly so they can once again fill up those blackjack tables and get The Wheel of Fortune spinning to a fare-thee-well.

The evils of gambling could save us all from a fate far worse than hell, bankruptcy.

Sure, the tribes are hurting like everybody else. They’ve made a huge investment in California with their massive increase in ever fancier and more lavish hotel casinos. They may not have as much money as they had just a few months ago, but they’ve got some and they can get more. After all, the only real business comeback you can count on is sin. Alcohol, tobacco, and gambling are our oldest growth economies and the tribes will want to make sure they get their fair share back when the cycle comes around.

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Tax Commission: Keep It Simple

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

When the Governor and Assembly Speaker created the Commission on the 21st Century Economy, aka, “Tax Commission,” their main concern was, in the Governor’s words, “basically just looking for one thing, and that is to create stability.” Indeed, the Governor specifically charged the Commission to “Stabilize state revenues and reduce volatility.”

To assist the Commission in its efforts, the California Foundation for Commerce and Education prepared a brief policy paper examining the state’s tax system to determine if it is broken, and what we are trying to fix. Our conclusion was simple: if you want to fix budget volatility, look no further than Proposition 1A on this May’s statewide special election ballot. But if you want to fix the state’s tax system, you’d better get agreement on defining the problem.

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Why Arnold Should Re-Register

Douglas Jeffe
Communications and Public Affairs Strategist

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been advocating “Post-Partisanship”. Now, it is time for him to walk the walk by abandoning his Republican label and re-registering as Decline to State. This move would make sense not only for his remaining time as Governor, but also for his ability to make an impact once he leaves office.

Here are the reasons why:

The middle is where the action is. It was Senators Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe and Arlen Specter who were in the driver’s seat in shaping the final Federal stimulus package. Senator Specter single-handedly got a $10 billion windfall for biomedical research into the final bill, while insisting the total package be cut back.

Californians will vote on an open primary amendment because moderate GOP State Senator Abel Maldonado was the swing vote required for passage of the State Budget deal.

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Tax Commission Extension Means More Time to Consider Difficult Choices

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

The Commission on the 21st Century Economy stepped out of the way of an on-coming political train and sought an extension to finish its work. Originally scheduled to bring recommendations on tax structure reform to the governor and legislature by April 15, commission members acknowledged that the May 19 special election will directly affect their mission.

Proposition 1A on the ballot will establish a spending limit but at the same time extend for up to two years some of the taxes recently passed by the legislature in the budget deal. As I suggested in a previous Fox and Hounds Daily commentary, the commission’s report of possible changes to the tax system might be used in the campaign for Proposition 1A. Alternatively, the voters’ decision on Proposition 1A would alter the debate on what tax changes the commission might recommend.

Commission Chairman Gerald Parsky said in light of the Special Election he would request that the governor and legislative leaders extend the commission until after the May election if the other commissioners agreed. Parsky’s recommendation received unanimous support.

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The GOP is falling off the New Media bandwagon

New Media Consultant and Co-Chairman of the California College Republicans

The Republican Party learned a hard lesson on technology during the 2008 Presidential election. Realizing President Barack Obama obliterated the GOP by using all the shiny new technology he could get his hands on, our party was left desperately searching for our own plan.

The College Republicans have been effectively using new media since 2004. I recall many conversations with a multitude of Republicans throughout the party where I practically begged them to use Facebook, or the now passé MySpace, to reach younger voters. I was told time and again that these were just passing fads and that "all the tech stuff" was unproven and therefore not worth the GOP’s time.

Republicans were completely unaware that these "passing fads" were exactly the opposite. Young voters get their news, TV and radio from the Internet. They access and interact in politics almost exclusively on the web. It’s impossible to reach large numbers of young voters through old school methods.

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Tax Commission To Seek Extension

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

The Commission on the 21st Century Economy, set up to give recommendations to the governor and legislature on reforming California’s tax structure, was due to issue its report on April 15th. At the Commission meeting held at UC Berkeley today, Commission Chairman Gerald Parsky recommended that in light of the special election on May 19 which will deal with budget and tax issues, the commission should seek an extension for its report until sometime during the summer. The commission members unanimously agreed. Parksky noted that new commission meetings will be added to the schedule if the commission’s life is extended. Only one more meeting was scheduled to be held April 9 at UC Davis. The Commission will need a revised executive order from the governor to change the due date of its report. More on the commission hearing at Fox and Hounds later.

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Business Bruised at Ballot Box

Charles Crumpley
Editor and Publisher of the San Fernando Valley Business Journal

You hear people say it all the time: Los Angeles is a business-friendly town.

C’mon, now. Isn’t that a teensy bit hard to believe? I mean, I’d believe Frank McCourt will invite Scott Boras to a weekend fishing trip before I’d accept the notion that Los Angeles loves businesses.

I’ve railed in the past about how local and state governments here routinely rough up businesses. And now it seems a majority of people here aren’t real fond of them, either.

Want evidence? Let’s look at Tuesday’s election.

In the Fifth District City Council race, you have a candidate whom the business community rallied behind in Adeena Bleich. She won the endorsement of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and former Mayor Richard Riordan. But she lost the election.

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Think Before You Tweet

Bryan Merica
Co-Founder of Unearth, a digital-first agency and Co-Founder of Fox & Hounds

Unless you live in a cave, you can’t help but hear all the buzz
about Twitter, especially over the last few weeks.  Recently, it’s all the media seems to be able to talk about
when it comes to technology. The
political world has been quick to jump on this medium. Even John McCain, who was labeled a Luddite
by some in the 2008 presidential campaign, is getting
into the action

In times like these, I feel somewhat like SNL’s grumpy
old man
. Maybe a bit extreme,
but as a veteran of the dot-com era, I’ve heard this type of hype before. Remember the online grocery retailer Webvan? Well, prior to its catastrophic failure
in 2001, it was going to replace those silly ‘brick and mortar’ grocery stores
once and for all. It turns out
that in spite of the convenience of buying many things online, we all still prefer
to select our produce by hand. But
you wouldn’t have known that if you believed all the media hype back then.

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