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Thursday, April 17, 2014
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Author Archive: Thomas Elias

State Senate must do more to restore trust

Ever since San Francisco’s Leland Yee joined his colleagues Ron Calderon of Montebello and Roderick Wright of Los Angeles on the state Senate’s indicted/convicted list and then all three were suspended, other senators have recognized they must restore the public’s trust. That won’t happen if suspensions are all those other senators are willing to mete […]

6 Californias? It’s just a bad idea

Here’s a piece of advice for registered voters: When petition carriers accost you outside supermarkets, big-box stores or shopping malls asking you to help advance a plan to carve California into six states, don’t sign. That’s because this is one of the dopiest, goofiest ideas ever to come up in California, which has a long […]

Conservatives back minimum wage hike

From the moment Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed America’s first minimum wage law in 1938 (25 cents per hour, or $11 a week), conservatives have fought increases every time and everywhere they’ve been proposed. It would cost millions of jobs, industrialists and business interests argue every time anyone tries to boost the minimum. Meanwhile, executive salaries […]

State needs death penalty changes

Few topics divide California as consistently or as evenly as the death penalty. The last time voters had their say on it, they opted by a vote of just over 51-49 percent to keep it around. How avidly do supporters of capital punishment maintain their opinions? Two years ago, when the Proposition 34 ballot initiative […]

April 05, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 1 Reply

Demo convention shows restraint Brown provides

One well-worn thought that has not been heard since Jerry Brown won his third term as governor in 2010 is the notion that California’s state Capitol needs some adult supervision. That suggestion became commonplace among pundits and voters during the Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger years of massive budget deficits and, for just one example, […]

Will Manson Family killer be set free?

If it seemed like déjà vu all over again the other day when the state’s parole board issued a decision that could free a leading disciple of perhaps the most vicious killer California has ever seen, that’s because it was. The order marked the third time in the past five years that the Board of […]

Clean ‘hydrogen highway’ remains elusive

Cleaner air, that’s the aim of about $30 million in “hydrogen highway” grants given each year by the California Energy Commission to companies that will build refueling stations for the hydrogen fuel cell cars due to hit the road between now and 2017. But the commission has had great difficulty keeping its own grant-giving process […]

PG&E gas rate request shows chutzpah

At the very moment that California’s largest utility company was being assessed a $14 million fine for failing to report discovery of flawed records on its gas pipelines in the San Francisco Peninsula town of San Carlos, the same company was asking for well in excess of $1 billion in rate increases to pay for […]

Challenger calls governor lazy, vulnerable

Jerry Brown has been called a lot of things in his 45-year political career, from “Governor Moonbeam” to “the old man,” but no one ever accused him of being a do-nothing dud of a politician. Until now. Changing the state’s school-funding formula, balancing the budget after years of deficit, proposing a massive water transportation plan […]

Recent history shows tax rebates a bad idea

If there’s a state budget surplus, let’s return it to the people we took it from, goes the demand these days from conservative Republicans led by Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, who now represents a lot of barren desert and would like to be governor of California. It’s quite a siren song and one we’ve heard before, most […]

Appeal court comments encourage birthers

For years, those who claim President Barack Obama was born in Kenya or someplace other than the Hawaii hospital indicated on the birth certificate issued by that state’s officials have claimed their effort is neither political nor racist, but merely purist. But now the woman who has carried the birther torch in more devoted fashion […]

Vaccination form eases way for false myths

For almost two months, parents of California public schoolchildren have been able to claim with no proof that their religion precludes getting their children vaccinated against once dreaded and disabling diseases like polio, rubella, mumps, pertussis and smallpox. This enables parents who believe in false myths to exempt their children easily, even if they really […]

Water rationing: If it comes, do it right

Despite heavy mid- and late-February rains that briefly drenched Northern California and the respectable ensuing snowfall in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the California drought remains. In fact, it is still more severe than the worst previous dry spell of modern times, which hit in 1976-77. Short of millennial downpours in late winter or early spring, […]

Costa Azul shows state avoided white elephants

White elephant: An idiom for a valuable but burdensome possession of which its owner cannot dispose and whose cost (particularly cost of upkeep) is out of proportion to its usefulness or worth. – Wikipedia Remember the enthusiasm of Sempra Energy back in 2009, when it had just about finished its $975 million liquefied natural gas […]

Top-two aftershock already having dramatic effect

One in every eight or nine earthquakes is followed by an even more powerful aftershock, officially making the first quake into a foreshock. And the farther we get into this year’s political season, the more it seems that the stunning 2012 effects of the “Top Two” primary election system voters approved two years earlier were […]

Openness a must for Pacific trade pact

Here’s a bit of unsolicited advice to Congress and the president about the newest free-trade agreement in the works for America, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which because of its location would affect California more than any other part of this country: Go slow, and open up the negotiations to press and public. Whenever this country negotiates […]

February 22, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 1 Reply

Some new school funding plans go awry

Gov. Jerry Brown and a lot of public school officials are just now rediscovering how right the 18th century Scottish poet Robert Burns was when he observed, “The best laid plans of mice and men oft’ go astray.” The latest example in California is the new public school funding formula Brown aggressively pushed last year, […]

Don’t expect much on immigration this year

There’s one big reason why, no matter how much happy talk you hear about “comprehensive immigration reform” from President Obama and members of Congress, it’s unrealistic to expect much action this year: This is an election year. All 435 members of the House of Representatives face re-election this year, as they regularly do every other […]

February 15, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 1 Reply

Does Feinstein remark imply big Senate races ahead?

No doubt the California Republican Party is down, but anyone who counts it out of big statewide races is a fool who disregards the ego-satisfying appeal prominent public office can hold for the very rich and very famous. Arnold Schwarzenegger is Example A of a fabulously wealthy celebrity who seized an opportunity to run for […]

State GOP lowers election expectations

As the California Republican Party enters the 2014 election year, its tone is considerably more restrained than we’ve heard in quite a while. With good reason. Generally, at year’s beginning, the GOP touts the large gains it plans to make in both legislative and congressional races, while also feeling optimistic about its statewide candidates. That’s natural […]

February 08, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 1 Reply

Best budget idea? Free sick, elderly convicts

Sometimes it can take more than a decade for a completely sensible idea to catch on. So it is with what may be the single best money-saving idea in the inventive preliminary budget proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown in early January. That idea, part of a Brown plan to appease a panel of federal judges, […]

February 05, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 1 Reply

Talk radio moves debunk liberal media myth

Listening to radio host Rush Limbaugh and former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, you’d think all newspapers, radio and television stations are owned by the pinkest of leftists. But a series of moves by the nation’s largest owner of radio stations, Clear Channel (controlled by the Bain Capital firm once headed by 2012 Republican […]

February 01, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 9 Replies

Record drought sure to bring changes

There is no longer any doubt about it: Even if California gets a bit of rain and snow over the next few weeks – and there is very little in forecasts for most of the state through the end of the month – we are in the midst of the worst drought since the mid-1970s. […]

Compelling priorities exist for new lawmaking session

Like swallows returning to Capistrano, state legislators come back to Sacramento as each new year begins, ready to peck away at what they see as the state’s problems. Last year, that included giving driver’s licenses of a sort to undocumented immigrants, imposing light regulations on hydraulic fracturing of oil shale, making it harder to convert […]

Understanding drone decision simple as ABC

It turns out that understanding the federal government’s late-December decision on where to site the testing of unmanned aircraft in U.S. skies is as simple as ABC: Anywhere but California. Other rationales will be offered for the fact that California, the state with more manufacturers of drone aircraft than any other and more experience testing […]

Brown gives clues to possible next term

Gov. Jerry Brown hasn’t yet said whether he’ll run for a new term as governor, his fourth overall. Aides like to chortle that, “Well, he has until the March 7 filing deadline to decide.” But as he travels the state, giving short and punchy speeches generally without benefit of either notes or teleprompter, Brown lately […]

Silly season: 2 plans going nowhere

The end of December and early January is usually a down time in the co-dependent businesses of government and news, replete with vacation breaks for many. This can often net flaky ideas and words far more coverage than they deserve. So it was when ex-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called state legislators a bunch of “girlie men,” […]

Election year focus will be away from top of ticket

In any normal election year, most public attention, newspaper headlines and television reportage centers on top-of-the-ticket jobs like president, governor and U.S. senator. Not in 2014. There is no race for either president or U.S. senator in California this year, and with Republicans unable so far to find and recruit a major figure to oppose […]

Warnings from a truth-telling treasurer

Every once in awhile, California gets a major public official who thrives on telling the unvarnished truth. In recent history, these have usually held the office of state treasurer, a low-visibility post that can give its occupant plenty of time to ruminate. First in this line in the modern era was Jesse Unruh, for whom […]

GOP’s Hispanic outreach a futile exercise

Give the Republican Party credit: After drawing fewer than 23 percent of Latino votes in the last presidential election, the GOP will now spend $10 million nationally trying to build permanent ground organizations and “a year-round presence” in Latino neighborhoods around the nation. But also recognize that this is strictly tokenism: You don’t sway the […]

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