Fox and Hounds Daily Says Goodbye

With this article, we end publication of Fox and Hounds Daily. It has been a satisfying 12½ year run. When we opened in May 2008, our site was designed to offer an opportunity to those who wished to engage in public debate on many issues, especially in politics and business, but found it difficult to get placed in newspaper op-ed pages. 

Co-publishers Tom Ross, Bryan Merica and I have kept F&H going over this time investing our own time, funding, and staff help. Last year at this time we considered closing the site, however with an election on the horizon we decided to keep F&H going through the election year. With the election come and gone, and with no sense of additional resources, we have decided to close the site down. 

Fox and Hounds will live on, at least, with my articles collected in the California State Library.

On a personal note, I have spent over 40 years in California policy and politics. There have been some incredible high moments and some difficult low points. It pains me that politics too often is a blood sport, frequently demonizing the motives of opponents and using the legal system as a weapon in public discourse. At Fox & Hounds, we tried to adhere to the practice of giving all a voice in the debate, yet keep the commentaries civil and avoided personal attacks.

F&H offered the opportunity to publish different perspectives (even ones that criticized my writings!).  We had success as indicated by the Washington Post twice citing Fox and Hounds Daily one of the best California political websites and many other positive affirmations and comments received over the years.

Tom, Bryan and I want to thank our many readers and writers for being part of our journey.  The publishers of Fox and Hounds Daily believe that we added value to California and its people. We hope you agree.

AB 127 Threatens Energy Efficiency Goals and Bypasses Green Chemistry Program

Californians take pride in the way our state sets the pace when it comes to energy efficiency, climate change and the environment.  Now the State Senate is considering a small piece of legislation that represents a big threat to our leadership on energy issues, and to my members in California.

As written, AB 127 would require the State Fire Marshal to propose updated flammability standards for foam insulation used in residential and commercial construction. While that may sound benign, the actual impact of this bill could be far greater, potentially impacting California’s ability to meet our ambitious energy efficiency goals by forcing the removal of flame retardant chemicals in a long list of building products, including insulation, adhesives, sealants, vinyl siding and windows. (more…)

Jerry Brown: Disciplinarian

Jerry Brown was the kid the first time he was governor, nearly 40 years ago. Now he is definitely providing adult supervision in Sacramento.

Since retaking the executive suite, Brown has lectured Californians – and the Legislature – about the need to get real on the state budget. His stance is pretty simple: the state should not spend more than it takes in.

It took a while, but it looks as if Brown’s mantra has finally penetrated both the electorate and the political class. (more…)

Lawmakers Stick Locals with Costs of Voting

The new state budget is here, and once again it leaves the state’s election system holding an increasingly empty bag.

For years counties have relied on the state to help fund state laws that change the voting process and in turn, make extra work and cost extra money for counties.

The last time election mandates were funded was 2009, when they accounted for about $30 million paid to all 58 counties. The largest in terms of dollars and impact is the permanent absentee voter program, which allows Californians to sign up to vote by mail in every election rather than reapplying each time. (more…)

Money, Not Principles, Sparks Public Records Brawl

The very public brawl over potential changes to the state’s Public Records Act has been billed as a battle over principles.

It’s not. It’s all about the money.

When the media, First Amendment activists, local government officials and, sadly, most legislators realized that the budget bill the Legislature passed last week made it optional for cities, counties and other government agencies to release public records, all hell broke loose.

Newspapers, environmentalists, small government conservatives and political types of every persuasion screamed that Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature were trying to water down the Public Records Act and vowed it would never happen. (more…)

Sacramento’s War on Public Participation

You can’t be too cynical when it comes to public officials and their desire to keep public records secret. And thinking cynically, it made perfect sense for Gov. Jerry Brown and state Senate Democrats to try to tame the controversy about their attempted gutting of the state’s public records law by offering up a proposed constitutional amendment to protect public records.

It didn’t work, fortunately, given the media uproar over the gutting; the governor and the senate surrendered and supported an assembly bill to undo the damage of a budget trailer bill. But the “take it to the people” strategy is standard in California. The state’s political players—from the left, center and right — have a taste for pushing things out of the wide-open court of public opinion, where everyone with an Internet connection can have a voice, into the realm of ballot measure politics, where only people and organizations with millions of dollars (or the ability to raise millions) count. (more…)

Who SB 71 Really Hurts…

I know Sacramento is located geographically in California, but there are days when it acts so contrary to what is happening around it, that it makes one wonder whether the Capitol is somehow situated in a parallel universe. Let me get this straight: at a time when the public has learned via public records requests of IRS overreach, pervasive snooping by the NSA into our phone records, and Justice Department delving into the computers of journalists, this is the moment when Governor Brown and Senate Democrats choose to tamper with the Records Act, making it easier for local governments to deny access to public documents?

Did I mention this is year is also the 60th anniversary of the Brown Act? Well, I guess we go from celebrating “open meetings” to allowing more “closed documents”… (more…)