California needs a party that stands for common sense

Tom Campbell
Tom Campbell served five terms as a congressman and two years as a California state senator. He was also finance director of California.

The Common Sense Party, a new political party being formed in California, stands for fiscal responsibility, social inclusivity and pragmatic decision-making.

The party has no checklist of positions to which adherence is demanded.  Instead, a candidate must show that she or he makes decisions on the facts, not prejudice. People of good faith who disagree on any point can receive support of the Common Sense Party.

Best answers are often in the middle, and better answers are always to be found when differing viewpoints are encouraged. This is the positive vision we have for a new party.

By contrast, the two major parties in California have gone to their extremes. The Democratic Party holds more than two-thirds of both the California Assembly and the State Senate. That gives them the power to raise taxes and to put state constitutional amendments on the ballot without having to obtain a single voter’s signature.

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Mental Illness and Drug Abuse are not police functions

Dennis Zine
Former Los Angeles City Councilman and Los Angeles Police Department Sergeant.

I joined the LAPD in 1968 and served for 33 years before retiring and moving onto a political career as an elected L.A. City Councilman.  Now, I look back at my experiences and compare them to what is happening today in America and in particular Los Angeles.  The LAPD has come under attack from certain community groups and local politicians demanding that funding be reduced to the Department and the funding go to a variety of  community programs in minority communities.  

Mayor Garcetti who recently called police officers “Killers” pushed for reduced LAPD funding and was supported by the vast majority of the City’s Councilmembers.  The impact has been significant in examining the current LAPD Citywide Profile.  As of August 22, 2020, the LAPD is staffed with 9,904 sworn police officers.  That number is down from the June 6, 2020 number of 9,998 officers.  That is a reduction of 94 Officers.  How many officers are now missing from your neighborhood and how long will you have to wait for police response when you phone 911 ?   

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The presidential campaign ignites and the California legislature flounders

Bill Boyarsky and Sherry Bebitch Jeffe
Bill Boyarsky is a former reporter, editor and columnist for the Los Angeles Times. Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, is a retired Professor of the Practice of Public Policy Communication, Sol Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California

What a week!  On the presidential campaign, Joe Biden emerges from his basement and attacks President Donald Trump as gutless.  And the California legislature is shamed by a nursing mother, Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, bringing her baby onto the Assembly floor to urge her colleagues to vote on an important housing bill.

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From the Government, “Do As We Say, Not As We Do” File

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

Government elected officials are proud and often boastful when it comes to making laws that tell the rest of us how to live but legislators many times don’t have to follow the same mandates they require of others. This week, California witnessed the latest entries in the “Do as we say, not as we do” file. 

Under the Capitol Dome, Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks was told the only way she could vote on the legislature’s last work day was to attend the closing legislative session. Wicks is a new mom and the only way she could attend was to bring her tiny infant along. In that same Assembly chamber where Wicks was voting, members were passing SB 1383 and sending it along to the governor. The bill requires small businesses to offer employees mandatory family leave so that the workers can take care of family matters, like caring for a newborn baby, for instance. 

In San Francisco, where small business owners of hair salons and barbershops have been suffering through the pandemic lockdown, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was getting her hair done inside a salon even though San Francisco officials had not yet permitted indoor salons to open. While the congresswoman didn’t participate in setting the rules for hair salons, her good friends in the city and state, including Governor Gavin Newsom, laid out the guidelines for the rest of us, but which, apparently, the Speaker does not have to adhere. 

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California Must Address Its Dwindling Recycling Capacity

Mark Leary
Mark Leary served as director of the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) and prior to that was executive director of the department’s predecessor, the Integrated Waste Management Board.

California has for decades led the world in recycling and in making the connection between recycling and environmental and economic sustainability. State laws and policies promulgated in Sacramento have promoted this leadership. Individual Californians have also enthusiastically embraced recycling because they know that it helps reduce pollution, fights climate-change, reduces the need for raw materials, preserves natural resources and reduces the energy used to mine and process native ores.

Unfortunately, a significant portion of California’s recycling has relied on Asian markets that are now diminished and as a result, opportunities for Californians to recycle are declining. The state has seen the closure of hundreds of recycling facilities for consumer items (bottles, cans, paper, etc.), yet residents dutifully fill their recycling bins every week, without realizing that much of this material has nowhere to go.  Trash haulers are now advising customers to discard various plastic items that were previously recycled

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To Fix the Energy Shortage, Forgot the Blame Game

Josiah Neeley and Beth Garza
Josiah Neeley is a resident senior fellow on the R Street Institute’s Energy and Environmental policy team. Beth Garza is a resident senior fellow on R Street’s Energy and Environmental policy team.

Even as California continues to deal with the consequences of repeated rolling blackouts, people are already fighting over who is to blame. In this case there are a lot of usual suspects, ranging from incompetent utility planning to a mania for mandated renewable power. But while the blame game has its place, it also misses a big part of the picture. To help deal with situations like in California in the future, we may need to rethink the way our electric system is set up.

To keep the lights on, electric generators must produce enough supply to meet demand at any given point in time. A lot of work has gone into trying to produce this supply. Yet far less innovation has occurred on the demand side. Consumer demand for electricity is too often treated as an indistinguishable blob, while the reality is that the value of electricity can vary widely depending on whether it is used to keep medical equipment running or to do the dishes.

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Bills on the Governor’s Desk – 2020 Session

Chris Micheli
Chris Micheli is a Principal with the Sacramento governmental relations firm of Aprea & Micheli, Inc.

Now that the 2020 California Legislative Session has adjourned, it is time to look at the forthcoming gubernatorial actions. Pursuant to Article IV, Section 10(b)(2), “Any bill passed by the Legislature before September 1 of the second calendar year of the biennium of the legislative session and in the possession of the Governor on or after September 1 that is not returned on or before September 30 of that year becomes a statute.” As a result, Governor Newsom has until midnight on September 30 to act on the measures sent to his Desk by the Legislature.

Historically, between 900 and 1,200 measures are sent each year to the Governor’s Desk. In his first year in office, Governor Newsom acted upon 1,042 bills. Historically, the veto rate is 12 – 15%. With the pandemic-induced reduction in legislators’ bill loads, we knew this year there would be fewer bills sent to the Governor’s Desk. So, how many bills are headed to Governor Newsom?

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‘Public Information’ to Promote New Taxes, Paid for by Taxpayers

Edward Ring
Edward Ring is a co-founder and senior fellow at the California Policy Center

Did you know your taxes are being used to advocate for more taxes? Well, not exactly. It’s against the law for public agencies to engage in “advocacy.” The people running these agencies who want to raise your taxes may only spend public funds in order to “communicate” with you about their proposals. And so they “communicate” good and hard. And then you vote.

An example of this, and there are many, is the City of Fullerton.

To cope with a projected $7.9 million deficit, the Fullerton City Council has approved a 1.25 cent sales tax increase, which voters will either approve or reject this November. The city expects to raise $25 million per year through this tax. At first glance that appears to be overkill, but first glances can be deceptive.

For starters, nobody knows how far revenue will drop. The pandemic shutdown is entering its eighth month with no end in sight. And while tax revenue falls across the state, pension costs continue to rise. For Fullerton, this is documented in the CalPERS actuarial reports for the city’s miscellaneous and safety employees. These reports, the most recent available, were released in July 2019, well before COVID-19 burst the global investment bubble.

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Legislature is Done for the Year. But Numerous Calls for a Special Session

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

During the waning days of the shortened legislative session there were at least three appeals to the governor to call a special session of the legislature to complete pressing business. His office has indicated he is unlikely to do so. 

Not that many legislators want the session to continue. Normally legislators would rather be out campaigning in an election year, and do not want to be debating controversial legislation in September or October right before facing voters. But these are not normal times and we live in a one-party state so that changes the usual rules of the political game. However, it is hugely unlikely we’ll see a special session mainly because those advocating for a special session don’t have leverage with the governor at the moment to make it happen.

It might seem surprising that the public employee unions that were the first to ask for a special session might not be able to push the governor toward making the move. The public unions are major powers in Sacramento and chief benefactors to the governor’s Democratic Party.

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Energy Storage will get us out of this Mess

Lawren Markle
Senior Communications Director, Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC)

So here we are again, with blackouts in California, but the cause is new.  We are starting to see the need to shore up one critical piece of our renewable energy strategy: energy storage.  It is only by adding enough energy storage that we can support peak load after the sun has set.  Some people say that blackouts are the result of adding too much renewable energy. But really, we just don’t have the right ratio of energy storage to solar yet.

The great news is that the economics and scale of battery projects have changed dramatically in just this past year.  Batteries have become cheaper and the scale of battery capacity is growing fast in California.   In fact, we are overproducing energy during peak sunlight hours, and more storage would allow us to bank that energy for later, rather than curtail or dump it.  We just need to speed up storage deployment.

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