Election Security is Not an Idle Threat

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.

Democrats are fixated on replacing Donald Trump next year. That was a given the day he took office.

There is an equally pressing need to ensure that the next presidential election is conducted in accordance with rules America sets rather than by the Russians or some other nation.

If the Mueller investigation and his testimony before Congress offered irrefutable evidence about one thing—it was about Russian intervention.

Mueller concluded that Russian interference “violated U.S. criminal law” and he indicted 26 Russian citizens and 3 Russian organizations.  

Evidence of Russian cyber-hacking came to light as early as September of 2016 but was given little attention at first.

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Ricardo Lara’s long, hot summer

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

This has been a long, hot summer for Ricardo Lara, a former state legislator from Los Angeles who was elected as California’s insurance commissioner nine months ago.

He’s been hammered by a series of journalistic revelations, mostly in the San Diego Union-Tribune, about how he has indirectly reneged on a campaign promise not to accept campaign contributions from insurance industry sources.

Union-Tribune reporter Jeff McDonald wrote that Lara’s office “intervened in at least four proceedings involving a company with ties to insurance executives and their spouses who donated tens of thousands of dollars to his re-election campaign, records show.”

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Poll Finds Voters Behind CA Confronting Global Warming, but are They Willing to Pay?

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

Public Policy Institute of California’s extensive polling on the environment turned up solid support from likely voters for the state to take a leading roll in confronting climate change. But when asked if they were willing to pay, the answers were mixed.

The poll found likely voters liked the idea (by 61% to 37%) of the state making its own policies separate from the federal government to address global warming. The numbers dropped somewhat but the gap of approval over disapproval remained when the voters were asked if California should take a leading role around the world on global warming, 49% to 22%.

When asked if gasoline prices would increase if the state pursued efforts to reduce global warming, overwhelming likely voters said yes, 60% to 11%. That opinion crossed all lines, party, ideology and regions of the state in similar large numbers.

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5 Ways In Which The Tax Return-for-Ballot-Access Law Is a Mistake

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)

Why did Gov. Gavin Newsom sign the bill requiring presidential candidates to release five years of tax returns to qualify for the primary ballot?

 Maybe Gov. Gavin Newsom knows something about President Trump or elections that the rest of us don’t know. He has to talk to Trump at times, and maybe he sees a leverage point that we just can’t.

Maybe he just thinks that, in the face of a lying bully like the president, California should punch back at every chance it gets. Or maybe he thinks he can carry the day by pointing out that Trump could make the ballot simply by doing the right thing and releasing his tax returns—thus casting more attention on the question about personal corruption that dog Trump. Maybe he’s just trying to tie down Trump’s attention and legal resources in a state that the president’ can’t win.

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The Return to Serfdom

Joel Kotkin
Editor of NewGeography.com and Presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University

I’m not a free-market fundamentalist. To me, the beauty of liberal capitalism lies in its performance: More people live well, and live longer, than ever before. Millions of working-class people have moved from poverty to become homeowners and have seen their offspring rise into the middle class or higher.

Today this egalitarian capitalist progress is showing signs of fading, not only in the United States but also in Europe, Australia, and increasingly East Asia. This marks a drastic reversal from the conditions that prevailed after World War II, when the incomes of those in the lower quintile surged by roughly 40 percent, while the gains in those in the top quintile grew a modest 8 percent, and the top 5 percent saw their incomes drop slightly. Social mobility since the 1990s has declined dramatically, not only in the United States but also throughout Europe, including Sweden. Despite the European Union’s vaunted welfare state, the middle class has shrunk in more than two-thirds of the countries there.

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Newsom Signs Law that Invites Political Mischief

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

SB 27 signed yesterday by Gov. Gavin Newsom requiring the release of five years of tax returns for any candidate wanting to run in California’s primaries for president or governor exists because of President Trump. While Trump is the target of obvious political harassment by California’s Democrats, could non-Trump Republicans see an opportunity to also cause pain to the president by attempting to grab a hoard of national convention delegates? Political mischief is now possible on both the left and right.

It probably never comes to that because the law will be challenged on constitutional grounds as violating the federal constitution’s qualifications to become president.  But think of the chaos it could create if the law stands. 

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In Presidential Race, California Disenfranchises Its Fastest-Growing Voter Group

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)

Those of us who state no party preference, or NPPs, are the fastest-growing voter group in California. There are more of us than there are Republicans.

And yet we can’t vote for whomever we want for president.

That’s a result of political parties. Republicans, who seem to want their party to be as small and as racist as possible these days, won’t let us independents take a ballot. And Democrats have made it harder, with new restrictions on when California independents can request ballots if they want to cast a vote. (You can still take a Democratic ballot and vote on election day).

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On Trump’s tax returns and maybe more, Newsom’s agenda isn’t Jerry Brown’s

Laurel Rosenhall
Reporter, CALmatters

As governor, Jerry Brown vetoed a 2017 measure to keep presidential candidates off the California primary ballot unless they release their tax returns. With a stern veto message, he said the Trump-trolling bill would create a political “slippery slope.”

“Today we require tax returns, but what would be next? Five years of health records? A certified birth certificate? High school report cards? And will these requirements vary depending on which political party is in power?” Brown, a Democrat, wrote.

Fellow Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom came to a different conclusion Tuesday, signing a new version of the bill that will make California the first state in the nation to adopt the requirement, and setting the stage for another legal battle with the Trump administration which is almost certain to argue that the law is unconstitutional. As a candidate, Donald Trump has defied custom by never releasing his tax returns.

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Berkeley’s ban on Natural Gas will Stymy Growth

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

The short-sided actions by Berkeley when they became the first city in America to ban natural gas hook-ups in new buildings with a landmark ordinance effective Jan 1, 2020 eliminating natural gas hook-ups to for cooking, heating and cooling, and washing and drying clothes, will most likely result in unintended consequences to stymy growth like previous well thought out California decisions!

The unintended consequences of actions from previous government actions have stymied growth rather than achieve the lawmakers intent: Rent control has disincentivized landlords from doing any improvements to their rentals due to their inability to raise rents and the CEQA permitting process that is so difficult, prolonged, and costly that developers seek easier locations to build. Rent control and CEQA are major hurdles for developers of new housing.

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PPIC CA Poll Shows Tight Race for Popular Vote Among Democrats, but Who is Going to Get the Delegates?

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

How many delegates will the Democratic presidential candidates win in California’s March primary?  It’s difficult to tell with early polling because the Democrats have a complex formula for securing delegates to their national convention and statewide poll numbers are more general in nature.

The Public Policy Institute of California’s latest poll shows a tight race among a number of presidential candidates to secure the vote of Democratic voters in March. California Senator Kamala Harris leads statewide with 19%, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is at 15%, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders 12% and former Vice President Joe Biden at 11%, while 25% haven’t decided.

But since the Democrats award delegates in California chiefly by votes in Congressional Districts, a more precise reading of the polls in the Congressional Districts would tell how each candidate is doing in the quest for convention delegates.

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