Newsom’s Woke Posturing Masks California’s Dismal Economic Record

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

If Hollywood were to cast a governor and future president, and if a straight white male were still politically acceptable, he would look like California’s Gavin Newsom. The 53-year-old governor, a former mayor of San Francisco, Newsom handsomely epitomizes the preening politics of the California elite class that has nurtured and financed his career from the beginning.

Like aristocrats of the past, Newsom seems oblivious to the realities felt by constituents among the lower orders. In the face of massive wildfires, he postures on climate change, conflating fires with an angry mother Earth—as opposed to poor land management—and uses the conflagration to justify a radical policy of switching to all-electric power over the next decade, with the elimination of gas-powered cars by 2035. In the midst of a near economic free-fall, he favors raising taxes and works to tighten pandemic lockdowns; and, with the state losing its ability to train workers, he backs an education system where almost three out of five California high schoolers graduate unprepared for either college or a career.

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New LA County Virus Lockdown; Going to the Dogs

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

New coronavirus restrictions go into effect in Los Angeles County today and I’m left wondering if I can walk my dog in the park with other dog walkers. Coronavirus restrictions are more complicated than they appear at first blush; certainly more challenging for the populace that is supposed to obey them than for the bureaucrats who put them down on paper.

Consider the puzzlement of an L.A. bookstore owner who told a reporter about the new restrictions that will limit the number of people in her store, “Telling people to stay home but then also telling them to keep supporting small businesses—that’s kind of a Catch-22.” 

The same can be said about my dog walking dilemma. Under the new restrictions, parks remain open. However, the edict advises all residents to stay home and always wear a mask when outside the household. 

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How Homebuyers Acknowledge COVID-19

Timothy L. Coyle
Consultant specializing in housing issues

Led by an increased interest among millennials, people are flooding new subdivisions where they are looking to upgrade their living situation.  But, based on interviews, they are also leaving densely populated, downtown neighborhoods due to the COVID-19 scare.

That’s because the “smart growth” ideal of dense, urban-centric dwelling doesn’t square with the reality of home quarantines and the message these individuals are getting from the health-care spokespeople in government.  “Keep away from other humans,” they’re saying.  Accordingly, more and more people see suburban life as more practical and less harmful to their health and safety than the crowded downtown apartment living they are leaving behind.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that “the pandemic has dramatically changed how most Americans view their homes.”  The trade association representing the country’s homebuilders says now “the need for more spaces within a home for work, schooling and exercise have driven many to evaluate where they live” and could be making the homebuying market in the suburbs stronger in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.    

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Don’t Give Us Another Lockdown

Matthew Fienup
Matthew Fienup, Ph.D., is executive director of the Center for Economic Research and Forecasting at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks.

Following a surge in confirmed cases of COVID-19, Ventura County last week was pushed back into the state’s most restrictive “purple tier.” Given the county’s poor economic performance before and during the coronavirus pandemic, we shudder at the prospect of a second government-mandated shutdown of the region’s economy.

Even before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Ventura County was experiencing a prolonged period of economic weakness. Beginning in 2013, the size of the county’s labor force contracted in each of seven consecutive years. The county’s economic growth slowed dramatically over the same period, from a post-Great Recession high of 4.8 percent in 2013 to less than 1 percent last year. 

The most arresting sign of weakness is county population data. According to the California Department of Finance, in 2016 Ventura County’s population declined for the first time in the history for which we have data. The county’s population declined again and at a greater rate in 2018 and 2019. In 2019, population losses were spread across seven cities in the county.

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Finding Your Irvine

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)

Late in this year’s strangest California film, “Palm Springs,” middle-aged Roy (J.K. Simmons) sits in his Irvine backyard and advises Nyles (Andy Samberg) on coping with an apocalyptic reality. 

“You’ve gotta find your Irvine,” says Roy, surveying his Orange County idyll.   

 “I don’t have an Irvine,” replies Nyles, who is in existential despair.

“We all have an Irvine,” Roy says. 

The apocalypse, for Roy and Nyles, is the result of wandering into the wrong Coachella Cave, after which they find themselves stuck re-living the same day. Roy, furious at their “Groundhog Day” predicament, at first spends this endless time loop traveling to Palm Springs to torture and kill Nyles, over and over again. 

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Fox and Hounds Daily Editors

The Editors at Fox and Hounds Daily wish you a very safe and healthy celebration of the Thanksgiving Holiday!

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Feinstein Steps Down; A Sign the Political Divide is Still Wide

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

What to make of California Senator Dianne Feinstein stepping down from potential chairmanship or ranking-member position in the Senate Judiciary Committee? Democratic Party progressives will claim victory by forcing Feinstein from a leadership role because of heavy criticism against the way she conducted herself during the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. But the senator’s move also symbolizes that the quest for moderation on the political landscape, believed to be advanced with the election of Joe Biden, is far from accomplished.

Sen. Feinstein was old school in the sense that she believed in a civil relationship with her colleagues across the aisle and positioning herself toward the political center. These have always been her principles since abruptly taking over as mayor of San Francisco in the aftermath of George Moscone’s assassination.

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The Most Crucial Small Business Saturday is Coming

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

Small Business Saturday on November 28 is this event’s most important in its 11-year history because of what the pandemic has done to small businesses and their workers. Now with an upsurge in coronavirus cases and potential stiff business restrictions imposed by California governments, it is more important than ever to support small businesses during this holiday shopping season. 

It is no exaggeration to say that shopping at small businesses this season could mean an open or closed sign on the door of many neighborhood businesses as the new year begins. 

In an American Express Shop Small Impact study it was revealed that 75% of small business owners need holiday spending to return to normal so they can stay in business in 2021. Nearly half said they need better than average spending to survive. 

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The First Question for Gavin

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)

Gov. Newsom’s COVID-19 briefing on November 23 was not confidence-inducing.

The governor couldn’t hear reporters questions for most of this press briefing. But reporters could. And the first question, from an AP reporter, was a direct hit: Governor, have you lost your credibility on COVID?

It was a fair question, and Newsom wasn’t dodging it. The briefing had technical difficulties, and when they were fixed, he tried to answer it.

But the larger problem was not technical—but involved Newsom himself. The governor is still giving these briefings, even though it’s hard to look at him with a straight face, post-French Laundry. Health Secretary Mark Ghaly, who should be leading such briefings, is still riding shotgun. 

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Poll confirms Californians’ sour mood on higher taxes

Dan Walters
Columnist, CALmatters

Proposition 15 would have been the largest tax increase in California history and its defeat this month was, by any definition, a huge setback for its sponsors, primarily public employee unions.

They had been yearning for decades to crack Proposition 13, the 1978 ballot measure that limits property taxes, and convinced themselves that singling out commercial property for new taxes would be a winner, especially in a high turnout presidential election.

After Proposition 15 was defeated, its advocates tried to place a positive spin on the outcome, hinting that they would try again to persuade voters to pass new taxes of some kind on someone or something. However, the notion that Californians really want to raise taxes was destroyed last week in a new poll from the UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies.

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