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.

Black Bart Award for California Politics 2020

For the past eleven years frequent contributors to this page Joe Mathews, John Wildermuth and I have nominated candidates for Californian of the Year in the world of politics. This year, as last, we will be joined by Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, long time journalist for NBC in Los Angeles and former professor at USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy. We then collectively—and not always in agreement–name the final selection the winner of the Black Bart Award. 

I expect we’ll find some extraordinary nominees in this extraordinary year. 

There are no specific criteria to follow in making the selection. Each author will explain his or her reason for selecting a nominee. Perhaps, the nominee took one courageous act, or committed a dastardly deed that had great repercussions, or performed heroically in difficult circumstances. The nominee may be a person, or more than one, or even an institution or an issue that had great impact on California politics and policy over the year.  (more…)

Water Wars by Other Means

Clausewitz famously said war was “politics by other means.” In California, politics is water wars by other means. Although it isn’t always above the surface, below the surface everything in the state involves water one way or another.

That’s because the more populous Southern California needs most of its water to flow down from Northern California. Two-thirds of Californians live in the South, while 75 percent of the water is in the North.

The California State Water Project was built mostly from the 1960s to the 1980s, a period when Southern California was a vast industrial powerhouse, especially the aerospace and defense industries. And two presidents hailed from there, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

But recent years have seen the rise of Northern California because of the vast wealth created by Silicon Valley and San Francisco due to the tech sector, even as state regulations have choked off Southern California “dirty” industries. National politicians include Gavin Newsom, Nancy Pelosi and Kamala Harris, all from Fog City. Not surprisingly, the state has been unable to resolve such issues as what to do with the Sacramento-Joaquin River Delta and the potential Twin Tunnels project, possibly downsized to One Tunnel, as Newsom proposed in 2019. (more…)

The Road Ahead for the California GOP

California’s AG resisted any temptation to join those of 18 sister states led by the Texas AG seeking to have the Supreme Court overturn President-Elect Joe Biden’s irreversible victory. 

Not that the vast majority of California voters favored the idea which turned out to be a giant waste of time as the high court delivered a terse 24 word judgement declaring it had no authority or interest in subverting the will of the voters.

It amounts to a desperate effort to undo a result that should never have been contested which threatens to further disrupt a country struggling to control a raging pandemic that has so far claimed nearly 300,000 lives and 20,000 Californians alone. 

In addition to the resounding proclamation from the court that should put to final rest what one commentator labelled the “fever dream” to change America into a monarchy, news was received that a vaccine to fight the dreaded disease has been given “emergency approval.” 

That’s the good news.  (more…)

Assembly Bill 5: California’s ‘Swiss Cheese’ Law

California voters pulled the teeth out of Assembly Bill 5, the labor classification legislation that outlawed gig work, when they approved Proposition 22 last month. The ballot measure didn’t strike AB5 from the books, but it is a statute in trouble, further weakened by a recent lawsuit. With every punch that lands on AB5, there’s a rising hope that workers will eventually have their freedom protected by government rather than violated by it.

Two weeks after voters sided with workers and passed Prop 22, the International Franchise Association, the Asian American Hotel Association, and a couple of independent franchise groups filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. They are asking for protection from the injustices of AB5.

“Without exception,” the suit says, “all of the statutes that regulate franchising recognize that the relationship between a franchisor and its franchisees is a commercial relationship, not an employment relationship.”  (more…)

Housing Laws that Allow the Theft of Community Wealth

You’ve heard the story about frogs who don’t leap out of a kettle of water that is slowly brought to a boil. The story illustrates how people, like frogs, will succumb to slow changes without taking action. The story is a myth, but the principle holds true for California’s single-family homeowners, neighborhoods and communities.

Having passed over 64 housing bills in the past four years, the state legislature is misguidedly turning up the heat to eliminate single-family zoning. In 2021, for example, they are likely to pass a bill that will allow duplexes to be built on most single-family lots, regardless of local zoning. Legislators repeatedly attack cities’ rights to self-determination, which opens the door to marauding real estate speculators.  

The reasons change but the objective stays the same. (more…)

Looking to 2021 and Our Recovery

The holidays are here, which means 2020 is coming to an end. Under normal circumstances, a new year would represent new beginnings and new opportunities, but as we prepare to welcome the new year, the hard truth is that many of the issues and challenges we have faced throughout 2020 will remain with us in 2021. 

While we will continue to be faced with adversity in the new year, I believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel if all of us continue to do our part. This includes our elected leaders doing their part as well. 

It is incumbent upon our elected leaders to seriously consider what our economic recovery will look like as we work to move past this pandemic. 

Several businesses have permanently shut down during the era of COVID-19, crushing our economy and leaving many people out of work. This will undoubtedly continue to worsen if we do not take a hard look at how to keep businesses open and reevaluate our suffocating policies. (more…)