State Officials and Unions Will Never Have All the Money They Want

Ken Monroe
Chairman of the Family Business Assn. of California and the president of Holt of California.

Proposition 15, the split-roll property tax measure on the November ballot, would seriously affect family businesses throughout the state by raising taxes on commercial property by an estimated $11.5 billion a year. As the owners of family-owned Holt of California and chairman of the Family Business Association of California, I know how hard it will impact our companies.

The measure’s proponents were arguing that the state faced a financial crisis and needed to double or even triple taxes on businesses large and small even before the COVID-caused recession hit and the economy was doing well.

In fact, this supposed financial crisis is not new and it’s never been solved to the satisfaction of public employee unions and their supporters in Sacramento despite a long line of tax increases.

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The dark side of Governor Newsom’s gas-powered vehicle ban

Ronald Stein
Founder and Ambassador for Energy & Infrastructure of PTS Advance, headquartered in Irvine, California

California Governor Newsom has convinced himself that green EV’s made from “fairy dust” must replace those dirty gas-powered vehicles. Sharing a few realities of the darker side of his fairy dust beliefs may burst his bubble.

Let us get some of the bad news out of the way first. The following is a partial list of items in an electric vehicle that come from hydrocarbons (oil and gas). Hint — plastic is made from hydrocarbons, but it is not the only petroleum product used on electric vehicles. Tires, belts, hoses, all electrical wires are coated in plastic including battery wires, power steering fluid, brake fluid, antifreeze, coolant for air-conditioning, transmission fluid, all plastics in the engine compartment which are too many to begin to list as most newer cars motors are shrouded in plastic. Carbon fiber, fiberglass, most fenders, many grills, windshield wipers, sealants around windows and undercarriage, some side panels, and all paint. Steering wheel, kick panels, air bag, dashboard, carpet, door handles, switches, most parts of the seat that are not leather, center console. I will stop here but point out that there are a lot of components made from oil besides the on average 1,000 parts made of plastic, or nearly 50 percent of a vehicles volume on the average electric vehicle

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San Francisco’s Retirement Spending

David Crane
Lecturer and Research Scholar at Stanford University and President of Govern for California

When we’re not studying state finances we read financial reports issued by cities and school districts. Recently we took a look at the City and County of San Francisco where annual cash spending on pensions and other post-employment benefits (OPEB) more than doubled from 2010 to 2019:

Unfunded liabilities more than tripled to $8.3 billion:

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Consider Another Option to the Prop. 24 Debate

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

Proposition 24 is tough stuff—tough to get through and understand that is. The measure runs 52-pages. The politics are a bit confusing, too. While proponents argue that Proposition 24 will strengthen California’s current privacy law, some privacy advocates say it’s not strong enough and that’s why they want it defeated. But it has always seemed to me there should be a third choice in the debate over using a person’s information: companies should pay an individual each time they sell, share or use a person’s information. 

The initiative changes existing consumer data privacy laws and establishes new consumer rights and business penalties for ignoring the privacy law. It also creates another state agency –this one would enforce the privacy data requirements–a duty now the responsibility of the Department of Justice. 

Proponents say the current state privacy law needs strengthening to protect against tracking individuals and their habits and revealing sensitive and personal information like an individual’s finances and health. 

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Reading the Props: 23 Continues the Labor-Dialysis Wars

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)

Every two years, I read the full text of all statewide ballot propositions—because at least one Californian should.

Next is Proposition 23 

Prop 23 is mercifully short, at less than 2300 words. But it’s another meta-measure that is mostly about itself.

Prop 23 is a follow-up to the failed Prop 8 from 2018.  It’s another attempt by the healthcare workers union SEIU-UHW West, to impose new regulations on big dialysis companies, DaVita and Fresenius, in service of its attempts to organize unions at those companies. 

So the measure talks about requiring a licensed physician at each clinic, more reporting of data on infections, and written notice before the closing of clinics. But the real choice for voters is whether they want dialysis to be more regulated and unionized industry.

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Kamala Harris as President?

T Keith Gurnee
Former councilmember of San Luis Obispo and a member of the Board of Directors of Livable California, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the self-determination and the livability of California’s cities and counties.

As we face yet another Sophie’s Choice election within less than three weeks, I’ve been waiting to see when and if the Trump campaign would start challenging the person who could end up being President: California Senator Kamala Harris. After all, she would be far more dangerous to the future of America than Joe Biden ever could be.

Ever since he announced his candidacy back in 2019, Joe has run as a moderate Democrat and he still claims to be a moderate who vows to work across party lines. As a moderate independent voter myself in these extreme times, let’s take him at his word. 

Then why would Biden choose the left-most liberal member of the U.S. Senate from the left-most state as his running mate? An analysis by GovTrack, an organization that annually tracks legislative behavior and voting records of all US Senators, rated Kamala Harris as the “most liberal” member of the U.S. Senate to the left of such seasoned leftists Sen. Elizabeth Warren and avowed Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders. That same year, GovTrack also found that Harris was the least supportive of bipartisan legislation compared to the rest of the Senate Democrats.

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St. Louis Proposal Would Make CA’s Top 2 Primary Even Worse

Gautam Dutta
Gautam Dutta, a Bay Area-based election lawyer, is Managing Partner of Business, Energy, and Election Law, PC. Previously, he served as New America Foundation’s Deputy Director for Political Reform.

In a couple weeks, California will hold yet another general election with third parties being mostly kept off the ballot, Republicans being under-represented on it, and Democrats having to spend millions in contests against other Democrats.  I wanted to share a way that it could be worse.

In St. Louis, voters are looking at a ballot measure called “St. Louis Approves.” Proposition D threatens to dilute the political power of the city’s substantial African American population, limit voter choice for everyone, install an untested voting method likely to fuel strategic voting, and shut out minority voices. Here’s an early warning to keep this proposal out of California.

Proposition D would make three major changes to St. Louis elections.

First, it replaces the partisan ballot used in state, congressional, and presidential elections with a nonpartisan ballot. Not allowing voters to see candidates’ party affiliation undercuts accountability and transparency.

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Small Business Retail Theft a Major Concern this Election Season

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

Shoplifting and stealing are becoming a bigger problem in California, which is why small businesses are showing interest in two statewide ballot measures that deal with crime and justice. Proposition 20 seeks sterner criteria defining felonies, while Proposition 25 is a referendum on the Legislature’s no cash bail law.  

A survey by the National Retailers Association said theft is at an all-time high, costing business nearly 2% of their profits. Law enforcement in California blames the increase in shoplifting on Proposition 47. Passed in 2014, it raised the dollar threshold for theft from $450 to $950 per location, making it a misdemeanor instead of a felony. 

Because of this change, there has been an upsurge of retail theft and commensurately, the inability of police and prosecutors to deal with the problem. The FBI reports that 49 California cities saw increases in property crimes. 

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Why California Is Better At Protecting Your Rights Than the U.S. Government

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)

Do you trust your state officials more than feds, dream of California independence, or support breaking the U.S. into regional republics? 

Then you’re a traditional American patriot.

Or do you cling to hopes of national unity, or believe in compromise to preserve our union of 330 million? 

Then you’re part of the problem.

The frightening 2020 election is disrupting how we think about America and California’s place in it—and thank goodness for that. Perhaps now, Americans might see national unity as a dangerous pursuit, and embrace our divisions in service of protecting our rights and building a better future.

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California Vote by Mail in Safe Hands; Remember to Exercise Your Right to Vote

Marty Wilson
Executive Vice President, Public Affairs, California Chamber of Commerce

Democracy’s most sacred right, voting, is already underway in California with all 21 million registered voters having received a mail-in ballot.

While voting by mail may have stirred controversy on a national level, here in California, we have grown comfortable with making our decisions around the kitchen table, marking our choices on candidates at the local, state and federal levels, as well dozens of ballot measures. In 2018, 65% of California ballots were cast early or by mail and more than 70% of us Golden Staters are registered as permanent absentee voters.

When our choices are made, we appreciate the safety and convenience of sending in our ballots by mail or dropping them off at a secure vote center, knowing they will be handled and counted by local election officials and their staffs.

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