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Thomas Elias

Power rate shift: Utilities seek to soak small users

A strong spotlight shines these days on the state Public Utilities Commission as it gets set to rule on how much the state’s biggest utilities will have to pay for their sometimes fatal blunders and how much consumers will be soaked for the negligence of utility executives. As much as $8 billion over the next […]

December 06, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Arnold’s real estate deal haunts state

When producers named a post-apocalyptic television series “The Walking Dead,” they probably had no idea that title also would come to describe one of the worst moves Arnold Schwarzenegger made in his seven years as California’s governor. That was his deal to sell 11 choice state office buildings to private investors for about $2.3 billion […]

December 03, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Who needs a political party?

Neither devoted Republicans nor dedicated Democrats are happy about one obvious message of this month’s election: At least in California, there’s no need at all to choose or join a political party. This message came across in several ways. For one thing, the two Republican candidates for statewide office who refused to endorse their party’s […]

November 29, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Replacing Boxer could be 1st race of new era

This year’s election is over, and the main result from Nov. 4 in California was not the least bit surprising: Four more years of Gov. Jerry Brown working with a Democratic-dominated Legislature. But the next election season began the moment this year’s ended, and every indication is that the long logjam that has frustrated ambitious […]

November 26, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Big bucks too much for populist measures

So much for populism. At least when it comes to fighting the interests of big-money corporations. In every vote this month where the interests of ordinary Californians were pitted against those of large companies, the corporate interests won big. Big bucks essentially convinced millions to vote against their own best interests. It was an unfettered […]

November 20, 2014 | Posted in Local opinion columnists | Tagged ,

Lame duck Brown: More than a caretaker?

During his first eight years as governor, Jerry Brown was so imaginative about what state government could do that he won the nickname “Gov. Moonbeam.” It took Brown, then in his 30s, to theorize that a state could launch its own communication satellite. And that a governor should deal person-to-person with presidents and prime ministers […]

November 12, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Peevy departure not enough: Clean out entire PUC

Sighs of relief were audible all around California when the embattled, disgraced Michael Peevey announced he would not seek reappointment to a third six-year term as president of the powerful California Public Utilities Commission. But the relief was premature. And Peevey’s announcement is not nearly enough to restore credibility to this tainted agency. Only a […]

November 05, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

New initiative law makes far too few fixes

From the rhetoric Gov. Jerry Brown employed on it, you’d think a law he signed early this fall would clean up the initiative process for all time. Not exactly, for like the so-called ground water fix he signed earlier, this one also leaves untouched the chief flaws of the process it’s supposed to fix. Yes, […]

November 01, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

PUC chief: Likely 1st test for new Brown term

How concerned will Gov. Jerry Brown be with the well-being of ordinary Californians in the new term he’s widely expected to win next month (the latest major poll has him leading his opponent by a 54-33 percent margin)? How much will he pander to the interests of large corporations? The first answer to those questions […]

October 22, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Kashkari’s fire may give him a future

No candidate likes to admit in October that he has virtually no chance to win the office he’s running for. So it is today with Neel Kashkari, the Republican nominee – read: sacrificial lamb – who is Gov. Jerry Brown’s re-election opponent. But occasionally a seemingly sure loser shows enough fire and grit to establish […]

October 15, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Big reason water bond will pass: It should

The outcome is rarely certain when state government asks voter permission to spend $7.5 billion of the taxpayers’ money, but it’s also unusual for a ballot proposition to win as wide a range of support as Proposition 1 already had more than a month before the Nov. 4 Election Day. Every poll shows the measure […]

October 08, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Why Dems will have lock on California for a while

It was lawbreaking, both proven and alleged, that ended the Democrats’ supermajority in the state Senate. Republicans and their efforts had nothing to do with it. Until state Sens. Roderick Wright of Los Angeles, Ron Calderon of Montebello and Leland Yee of San Francisco encountered serious legal problems, Democrats had more than two-thirds of the […]

October 04, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Tesla ‘loss’: California evades a massive giveaway

There are very few Americans who need welfare and government support less than Elon Musk, the hyper-creative head of the Tesla Motors electric car company, the Space X rocketry and satellite hoisting firm and Solar City, a leader in renewable energy. Yet . . . almost no one gets more government benefits and business. The principle […]

October 01, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Groundwater rules: Too late, far too little

Never mind the hosannas that followed immediately after state legislators passed a last-minute package of bills purported to impose California’s first-ever statewide regulations on groundwater use. The bottom line is that those laws will change nothing for decades, while today’s reality cries out for fast action. Ground water accounts for about 35 percent of the […]

September 27, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Teacher tenure becomes key campaign issue

For three months, the time bomb that is the Vergara vs. California court decision lurked in the background as two of this fall’s major political contests gradually took shape. Those two are the races for governor and state schools superintendent, both offices now occupied by Democrats strongly backed by teachers unions: Gov. Jerry Brown and […]

September 24, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Signs indicate California recovery will last

There are still skeptics who maintain the California economy remains in recession, that talk of economic recovery amounts to whistling past the proverbial graveyard when unemployment remains above 7 percent. Gov. Jerry Brown labeled these folks “declinists” two years ago, when unemployment was much higher and the signs of recovery were not nearly as strong […]

September 20, 2014 | Posted in State, national lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

Time for utility execs to start worrying

Executives of California’s large privately owned utility companies don’t usually have to worry about much. Their companies enjoy virtual monopolies in vast regions, their profits are guaranteed, their shareholders are generally assured of regular dividends – which means they can count on collecting large salaries indefinitely. This security is enhanced by the fact that when […]

September 17, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

If not 6 Californias, how about 1, sovereign California?

Californians two years from now will be thinking about electing a U.S. senator, 53 members of Congress and a president. Until Friday they also faced the possibility of deciding whether or not to carve up their state into six new ones. The ballot initiative to do this was the brainchild of billionaire venture capitalist Tim Draper, who […]

September 13, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Last year of public school, business as usual?

For many years, it was valid to urge that students take a good look around as they entered high school in the fall – because more than one-third of their opening-day classmates would probably drop out before graduation day four years later. Dropouts remain a big problem, but the rates have been cut substantially, down […]

September 10, 2014 | Posted in Local opinion columnists | Tagged ,

Top-two voting changes runoff races, not just primaries

When Californians voters adopted the top-two primary election system four years ago via Proposition 14, they meant to make state politics more moderate, to ease some of the sharp divides between Republicans and Democrats that led to legislative and budgetary gridlock. It’s working, but still a work in progress. The relatively new system that pits […]

September 06, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Changing election dates: Dems seek more domination

No one knows better than Democratic Party politicians that voters who tend to support them are at high tide in November general elections during even-numbered years when offices like president and governor and U.S. senator are at stake. Turnouts are far lower in primary elections, special elections and those held in some cities during odd-numbered […]

August 30, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Obama risks alienating Latinos from Dems

For the past 20 years – since passage in 1994 of California’s abortive anti-illegal immigrant Proposition 187 – Democrats here and around America have increasingly depended on Latino votes. The 2.5 million California Hispanics who became citizens and registered to vote in the three years after 187 passed, with its bans on undocumented children in […]

August 27, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Boxer, Feinstein: Different routs in backing Israel

Few things in a rather absurd world are more deserving of ridicule than the United Nations Human Rights Council, a 47-nation group that includes some of the world’s leading human rights violators, from China and Cuba to Kuwait, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, to take just a few in alphabetical order. Thus it was completely […]

August 23, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

No getting away from corruption in state government

To some, it seems almost as if California has lately become New Jersey West. Incidents of possible corruption and conflict of interest are seemingly exposed at least once a month these days, with almost no consequences for anyone involved. Some examples: • Last month, the Los Angeles Times revealed that the president of the state’s […]

August 20, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Tesla has state walking a tightrope

California government now walks a tightrope, put in that position by one of the latest in the large corps of successful high-tech startups this state has spawned over the past few decades. Make a misstep in one direction and the state stands to lose a huge battery plant and 6,500 jobs. Stumble the other way […]

August 16, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

What we don’t know about the drought: Plenty

We know a fair amount about the drought that has now afflicted California for about three years: It has been the driest period since record-keeping began in the 19th century. If their wells are deep enough, farmers can still pretty much pump all the groundwater they like, while homeowners can be fined up to $500 for […]

August 13, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Higher turnout and other fall election certainties

Make no mistake, the fall election season began on the evening of June 3, just as soon as the primary election polls closed. But no one has spent much on the election since then, nor has the vast majority of voters focused on any issues to be decided in November. This will change in a […]

August 09, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Is vaccination order linked to pertussis epidemic?

California parents for several months have been free to claim without offering any proof that their religion forbids getting their children vaccinated against once dreaded and disabling diseases such as polio, mumps, pertussis and smallpox. This allows parents who believe false myths to exempt their children from the vaccinations usually required for public school enrollment, even […]

August 06, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Election focus: Changing of political guard

For a state that has long been a symbol of youth, there’s been a lot of age among California’s pre-eminent politicians of the last decade. But that began to change in 2012, and the shift accelerated this summer as many of the old guard chose not to brave the “top two” primary system that threatened […]

August 02, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,

Red light camera fate now uncertain in state

There are few worse feelings for a driver than receiving a letter purporting to show that person in the act of running a red light. But not many legal items are less enforceable or reliable, despite what the California Supreme Court said in an early summer ruling which held red light camera photos and videos have […]

July 30, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged ,
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