Climate Change May be Inevitable. Doing Little as Possible is Ludicrous

Richard Rubin
Attorney Richard Rubin has taught at the University of San Francisco, Berkeley and Golden Gate University, is a regular columnist for the Marin Independent Journal and was Chair of the California Commonwealth Club Board of Governors, 2017-2019.

What does the rapid thawing of nine million square miles of Arctic ice, the immense devastation left behind by Hurricane Dorian, and the tiny light bulb have to do with one another?

Perhaps more than you might suspect.

And what connection do these things have to California’s perennially shorthanded battle to eliminate carbon emissions and nation-leading efforts to implement stringent clean air rules?

Actually quite a bit.

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New Study Sponsored by Good Government Watchdog Investigates Explosion of Payments Made at “Behest” of California Elected Officials

David Kersten
David Kersten is president of the Kersten Institute for Governance and Public Policy ( Kersten is also an adjunct professor of public finance and economics at the University of San Francisco.

Most people, including many Capitol insiders, may not even know what a “behest payment” is. 

But this is definitely a case where what you don’t know can hurt you because there has been nothing show of an explosion in so-called “behest payment” by elected officials in California, making this one of the most popular new avenues of government influence peddling at all levels of government in both California and the United States.

A Sacramento-based watchdog group called the Center for Ethics, Transparency, and Accountability (CETA) has released a new report on this issue titled “California Shakedown: An Investigation of Behested Payments to Elected Officials in California.”  

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Rent cap bill won’t fix California’s housing crisis

Jared Martin
President of the California Association of REALTORS.

When California lawmakers vote on a rent cap bill in the coming days, they must consider the consequences it will have on our state’s housing crisis for years to come.

Our state’s housing affordability and availability crisis deserves a comprehensive approach that prioritizes building more homes for rent and ownership. Unfortunately, Assembly Bill 1482 does neither.

The version of the legislation by David Chiu, San Francisco Democrat, headed to the Senate Floor will not incentivize production of rental housing or help more people find an affordable place to live. 

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Two-Thirds Vote Needed for Some Local Taxes? Who Knows?

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

Does it take a two-thirds vote or a majority vote of the people to raise local taxes placed on the ballot via the initiative process? 

Answer: No one knows—yet. Like many policy debates, it will take a state Appeals Court or the California Supreme Court to decide.

Uncertainty already existed over the vote requirement for taxes placed on the ballot by initiative after a previous Supreme Court decision. A couple of recent lower court rulings have really muddled the issue. 

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What Does the Real Estate Slowdown Mean for Split Roll?

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)

The ballot initiatives to split the roll—to treat commercial property tax assessments differently than residential property assessments—have been developed in the context of sky-high real estate prices.

But Californians may vote on the latest version of the initiative in a very different context.

The real estate market is looking pretty soft in different parts of the state. A recession may be on the way, which could actually bring prices down after many years of rapid growth. How could this change the politics of split roll?

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Finally, an energy book in layman’s language: Energy Made Easy

Ronald Stein and Todd Royal
Ronald Stein is Founder of PTS Advance in Irvine. Todd Royal is an independent public policy consultant in Los Angeles focusing on the geopolitical implications of energy.

Energy is multifaceted, and the just published Energy Made Easy – Helping Citizens Become Energy-Literateby Ronald Stein and Todd Royal available on Amazon allows the reader to grasp enough knowledge quickly so they can participate in discussions with family, friends, co-workers, or while watching news reports. The main purpose of the book is to Help Citizens Become Energy-Literate. 

As an added benefit to the reader, each chapter is a stand-alone read on twelve energy subjects. The readers may not be interested in the entire spectrum of energy, but can selectively pick, and choose hot energy topics, trending on current news or social media coverage. 

It’s dangerous and delusional to believe anything can be explained in sound bites, much less energy. This book will make you look at energy and ELECTRICITY in a new, fresh way, and perspective. We believe this is desperately needed with the upcoming U.S. Presidential election, and global events taking place in China, Russia, Iran, Africa, India, and South America.

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Democrats Ignore Voter Decisions

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

In politics, as in sports, rules of the game often influence, or even dictate, who wins and who loses.

Just as professional sports leagues are wracked by internal conflict over playing rules, California’s politicians and interest groups joust constantly over campaign contribution limits, redrawing of legislative and congressional districts, voter registration, voting procedures and countless other electoral rules.

One of the many clashes occurred 31 years ago, when two competing ballot measures, Propositions 68 and 73, tested voter sentiment on providing public funds to candidates for office, a long-sought goal of Common Cause and other self-described political reform groups.

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Like Ending a TV Drama, the Legislature needs to tie up Loose Ends before Shutting Down

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

One might look at the last week of the legislative session like the last episode of a TV series. The job of the performers, writers and producers is to tie up loose ends in many of the story lines, and there are many story lines under the Capitol dome that beg for an ending. 

By no means an exhaustive list, the legislature and the governor have to deal with whether the state will change the direction of the nature of work and the status of workers in a new economy (AB 5); close an agreement on vaccinating children entering school (SB 276 and its new companion SB 714); dictating rent control rules for the entire state (AB 1482); and countering moves on the environment by the Trump Administration (SB 1).

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Lyft and Uber Make a Dumb Ballot Initiative Threat

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)

Lyft and Uber are rich and powerful companies, but they don’t understand California or its direct democracy.

Witness their collective threat (along with DoorDash) to fund a $90 million ballot initiative to effectively reverse AB 5, legislation that could turn their drivers into employees.

Lyft and Uber made the threat before AB 5 is passed and signed with the goal of trying to stop it or slow it down. The logic is: threaten an initiative fight, and perhaps we can bend the bill more in in our favor.

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Steps to make California Opportunity Zone ready now will benefit communities in need

Jennifer Lovett
Senior Project Manager at California Forward.

The federal Opportunity Zone program represents a unique opportunity to channel private investment into California communities most in need. In order to take full advantage of this tool, California should do what states have done and ensure that the state tax code conforms to the federal tax treatment. California’s window for taking this step — allowing the state to compete nationally and direct investment to critical housing and clean energy projects — is rapidly closing.

As the most populous state in the country and world’s fifth largest economy, California is uniquely positioned to leverage its diverse regions and industries to maximize economic gain. However, as elsewhere in the U.S., not all communities have benefited equally from the state’s overall economic prosperity. Historically underserved communities struggle to attract investment that can help build the housing and job centers that are needed statewide. 

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