Ford’s CEO resists calls to stop making vehicles for police

Ford Motor Co.’s top executive has pushed back against some employees calling for the top seller of vehicles to U.S. police departments to exit the business.

Chief Executive Jim Hackett sent a more than 600-word letter to senior staff in response to messages he’s received both from within and outside Ford’s ranks to reconsider producing police vehicles.

Hackett, 65, said that while he and Executive Chairman Bill Ford support the Black Lives Matter movement and believe police should operate with more transparency and accountability, first responders “play an extraordinarily important role in the vitality and safety of our society.”

“Our world wouldn’t function without the bravery and dedication of the good police officers who protect and serve,” Hackett wrote. “But safety of community must be inclusive of all members and today, it is not.” …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of L.A. Catholic Schools

The Supreme Court on Wednesday barred teachers who work at church-run schools from filing discrimination lawsuits against their employers, ruling that the Constitution’s protection for religious liberty exempts church schools from state and federal anti-discrimination laws.

The justices, by a 7-2 vote, shielded two Catholic elementary schools in Los Angeles County from discrimination claims by two teachers who complained they were unjustly fired, one due to an illness and the other due to age.

The court found that since such schools are part of a church’s religious mission, the government may not interfere with decisions about hiring, supervision and firing of teachers.

The decision effectively closes the courthouse door to tens of thousands of teachers nationwide in religious and parochial schools who encounter workplace discrimination based on their race, gender, age, disability or sexual orientation that would otherwise be impermissible. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

The Orange County Classical Academy Will Transform Education in California

In barely one month, 360 elementary school students will begin attending a new charter school that offers a dramatic departure from the failed public education model in California. The Orange County Classical Academy (OCCA) will open its doors to kindergarten through 5th grade students, and apart from the student demographics, nothing about this school fits the conventional mode.

Despite being one of the most encouraging developments in California’s public education in, say, the last 50 years, it is a sad testament to the times we live in that what OCCA is doing is considered revolutionary. Here is a brief summary of how OCCA differs from literally every traditional public elementary school in California:

First of all, they are scrapping the Common Core approach to teaching English and math, and they are making the sex education curriculum “non-pornographic, age appropriate, and medically accurate.” Since Common Core and the recently revised state sex education guidelines have been unpopular with parents and are of dubious value if not actually harmful to students, these are both big changes. Moreover, the sex education curricula being used at OCCA will be made transparent to parents and will facilitate a simple opt out should parents desire that for their children.

Second, OCCA is a licensed operator to use the K-12 curriculum developed by Hillsdale College. Currently there are 20 charter schools in ten U.S. states that already use the Hillsdale model, which is patterned according to their approach to college education. This format is based on the traditions of Western Civilization. Specifically, the lessons acknowledge America’s important role in the world, embracing the Judeo-Christian principles as expressed by the founders of America. These lessons do not apologize for Western traditions, and will allow all of the students early exposure to the greatest thinkers, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Homer, and so on.

The students will even be taught Latin as their foreign language, with all the benefits and insights early instruction in Latin facilitates: Ease in learning any Romance language, and familiarity with the roots of most medical, scientific, and professional terms in common use in the English language.

Third, the way OCCA intends to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic is based on expert medical advice and is unaffected by the opportunistic demands of the teachers unions. OCCA intends to open with no requirement for face coverings for either students or teachers, although all will be free to wear them if they wish. They will be having normal classroom instruction without social distancing or distance learning. This policy is based on virtually all medical data so far indicating that COVID-19 is not dangerous to children, and is almost never spread by asymptomatic children, combined with the fact that wearing face masks and enforcing social distancing is harmful to the the psyche and the social and intellectual development of children.

None of these revolutionary intentions of OCCA would be within weeks of realization were it not for a long, bitter fight the organizers had to wage with the teachers union and the politicians they control. Charter schools, along with home schooling, religious schools, and private schools, all constitute a mortal threat to the teachers union monopoly. The impact of the teachers union is felt throughout public K-12 education, but especially in low income communities.

This was proven during the Vergara case, which attempted to reform union work rules that were crippling public education in California, but was dismissed on a technicality back in 2016. In the closing arguments, the attorney for the plaintiffs – often using testimony from expert witnesses for opposing counsel – demonstrated that inadequate wait time for tenure, layoff policies favoring seniority over merit, and almost impossible criteria to justify termination, had a disproportionate negative impact on low income communities.

What OCCA intends to do, promoting Western values instead of claiming the West is the scourge of human history and the scapegoat upon which to blame all travails of “disadvantaged” communities, is equally anathema to the teachers union. OCCA’s focus on classical education is an audacious, uncompromising challenge to the leftist indoctrination that sadly informs nearly everything taught these days in California’s traditional public schools. In an overt slap to the unions, OCCA even intends to include in their instructional materials videos from Prager University, an institution that is loathed by the Left. How on earth was OCCA approved to begin operations?

The Political Fight to Establish the Orange County Classical Academy

For years, parents upset with the state of California’s unionized public schools have fielded candidates for school district boards and county boards of education. In Orange County, after years of effort, they have logged some victories. In the Orange County Unified School District, of which OCCA is a part, pro-charter reformers currently hold a 4-3 governing majority. The meeting when OCCA was approved to open as a charter school was an epic moment.

In support of OCCA, over 200 parents and pro-charter advocates showed up, outnumbering the large contingent of union backers. During the contentious meeting, unable to voice arguments that matched the facts and logic put forth by supporters of OCCA, the union crowd repetitively chanted “we will remember in November.” This is not an empty threat. California’s teachers unions are among the most powerful political players in California. To retake control of the Orange County Unified School District school board, they will spend millions to support the campaigns of their candidates this November.

Fortunately, in California it is still possible for charter schools that are denied a permit to operate by their local school district to appeal to their county board of education. And on the Orange County Board of Education, pro-charter reformers hold a 4-1 majority, which will be much harder for the unions to overcome. Moreover, these unions are racing against time.

Already, as abundantly clear during the initial canvassing for students to enroll in OCCA, parents overwhelmingly support charter schools. They are especially enthusiastic about OCCA’s avowed stance on providing a classical education that promotes traditional moral values and delivers a patriotic perspective on American history. Dumping common core, getting the extremist filth out of sex education, and focusing on education fundamentals is something most parents prefer. This is repeatedly demonstrated in the perpetual waiting lists for admission to charter schools, including OCCA.

Only about ten percent of California’s students have the opportunity to attend charter schools, thanks to years of opposition from union backed school board candidates on school boards and a state legislature that is dominated by union backed politicians. Obviously some charter schools are more excellent than others, and there are cases where the local public schools are themselves very excellent. But allowing parents a choice, especially in the communities most victimized by the union monopoly on public education, means charter schools are always held to a high standard.

The success of OCCA, as a charter school with an instructional model perhaps further removed from the traditional unionized public school than any to-date, means its success will reverberate around the state, awakening voters, energizing parents, inspiring similar ventures, empowering students, transforming education, and eventually, realigning California politics. CTA, CFT, watch out. Reformers are fighting back harder than ever, and at last, they’re starting to win.

This article originally appeared on the website California Globe.

Being Too San Francisco For Its Own Good

San Franciscans love complaining about how terrible San Francisco has become. We’ll bond about the high cost of rent, the homeless problem, and how we’re planning to leave the city because the techies ruined it. “I’ve been here forever, got here four years ago . . . it was totally different then, of course.”

I’ve lived in San Francisco since 1987. Not quite a native—I was born in Korea— but long enough to have deeper roots than many. Very few people I know from my high school days remain, forced out by exorbitant rents and cost of living. Who, in the 1980s and 1990s, expected that they’d need to become a software engineer to afford living in their own city? Not many, it turns out. So, we imported them. Most tech workers are from other parts of the country, if not the world. They come for the high-paying jobs and for the lifestyle, including the ultra-progressive values, that San Francisco represents. I don’t blame them. San Francisco, on a good day, is an amazing city. But it’s seeing fewer and fewer good days.

With the recent Covid-19 shutdown, San Francisco is much quieter. No more bustling North Beach restaurants serving up sloppy shots of Fernet Branca, no large conferences at the Moscone Center, no hanging out with friends. San Francisco “flattened the curve,” recording only 49 deaths to date. Yet, just a few days ago, the opening of barbershops and nail salons, originally set for June 29, was delayed indefinitely. As businesses of all sizes flounder, and unemployment has risen from 2 percent to 13 percent, many key issues challenging San Francisco have gotten worse.

One of those issues is homelessness, a topic the city was always myopic about and which its leaders are working to keep under wraps. The shutdowns have compounded this issue to an enormous extent by keeping it largely out of the public eye. It only takes a quick drive through parts of the city to see how much worse it has gotten in just a few months. The National Homeless Information Project estimated the 2019 homeless population of San Francisco at greater than 17,000. The San Francisco Examiner reports that homeless tents set up in the Tenderloin district have increased 300 percent since January. It would be no great stretch of the imagination to guess that the current homeless population of San Francisco exceeds 30,000—3 percent of the city’s total population.

The policies San Francisco put into place during the pandemic have likely contributed to this increase. In addition to giving out free tents, the city has offered to put homeless people up in hotel rooms, paid for by tax dollars. Some of the city’s new tenants are receiving free deliveries of alcohol, hypodermic needles, and methadone as a matter of “compassion,” while reports of overdoses and violence mount.

Mayor London Breed campaigned, as all San Francisco politicians do, on a platform of compassion and tolerance for the homeless. But voting patterns reflect the politics of residents who have no intention of staying here long-term. As long-term residents are forced out and transient workers have been brought in, the politics of San Francisco have become even more lopsided, having gone from 75 percent voting Democrat in the 2000 election to a record-high 84.5 percent in 2016. Newcomers are increasingly driving policies, while the voice of the native San Franciscan becomes isolated. It’s easy to tolerate aggressive panhandling and open drug use if one plans to stay in San Francisco only temporarily. It’s hard to care about long-term planning if owning property is out of reach. Too many potential homeowners have been priced out of the city.

When stay-at-home orders are finally lifted, lawmakers will have to deal with the consequences of their policies enabling homelessness and drug abuse. Even those who want to take common-sense measures will face pushback from peers worried about the political costs. And few Democrats in this heavily blue city will dare challenge incumbent mayor Breed. San Francisco has virtue-signaled itself into a hole.

Looking at a $1.5 billion budget deficit over the next two years, the City by the Bay is hemorrhaging people and revenue. Some of its biggest employers are letting employees work remotely from anywhere in the world; others are moving their headquarters out of San Francisco entirely. Thousands of tech jobs have been lost in recent weeks. A third of the city’s residents report that they’re considering leaving, and thousands already have done so. Those departing cite issues like homelessness and crime as factors for their departure.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, there may be up to five new tax hikes on the ballot this November to help fill the gap. These include increasing taxes on high-earning CEOs, a payroll tax on stock-based compensation, and a gross receipts tax that would increase taxes for hotels and restaurants—the businesses hit hardest by the shutdowns. The city seems focused on getting rid of not only its residents, but its most successful businesses, too.

Busy decriminalizing everything from shoplifting to drug use, San Francisco’s lawmakers don’t seem to realize that the city may soon be left gutted of its residents and its most successful industries. Better policies and leadership could have prevented this situation. Instead, San Francisco ignored its everyday citizens, who want safe streets, and took its cues from a wealthy, hyper-progressive itinerant class. The results haven’t been pretty.

Hyon S. Chu is an MA student in philosophy based in San Francisco. He is currently writing a weekly serial publication about reclaiming individualism and choice in an increasingly algorithm-driven world called Digital Agency.

This article was originally published by City Journal Online.

Face Mask Resistance Continues in Orange County

When Basilico’s Pasta e Vino took to social media to proclaim itself a mask-free location amid the COVID-19 pandemic in late May, it prompted responses ranging from overwhelming support to stern admonishments from customers who pledged never to dine at the restaurant again.

On Monday, officials at the Huntington Beach establishment had a message for those who have expressed anger about their policy. They updated the restaurant’s voicemail greeting, joking that they were “having some fun with the haters.”

“As you may know, we have been recently featured in the press and with great appreciation have been receiving an overwhelming show of support by the community and even from across the state and country, so if you’re calling to place an order or express support for our position, please hold or leave a voicemail,” the greeting states. “If you’re calling to place a death threat, please press 2 and leave your name, number and address so our cousin Guido and his crew can pay you a visit.”

It is not clear whether the restaurant is mandating that diners remove their masks before entering. A man who identified himself as the restaurant manager declined to comment to a Times reporter on Tuesday. Huntington Beach police spokeswoman Angela Bennett said officials have sent the restaurant a letter requesting that they comply with the state’s mask order. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

Companies tied to California officials get US virus loans

Businesses tied to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis and two of the state’s legislative leaders were among those that received federal loans aimed at keeping small businesses afloat during the coronavirus pandemic, records released Monday showed.

A Northern California winery and hospitality company, PlumpJack, founded and partly owned by Newsom, received a loan worth $150,000 to $350,000 from the Paycheck Protection Program, according to data released by the U.S. Treasury Department.

Before taking office as governor in 2019, Newsom announced he would step away from his businesses and put his assets in a blind trust managed by a family friend and attorney. …

Click here to read the full article from the Associated Press.

Newsom Now Owns the COVID-19 Pandemic

Just a few weeks ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom was boasting about California’s apparent success in suppressing COVID-19 infections in implicit contrast to other states, such as New York, that were being clobbered by the pandemic.

He called it “bending the curve” of the infection rate and decided to reopen vast sections of the economy that he had shuttered in March.

“We have to recognize you can’t be in a permanent state where people are locked away — for months and months and months and months on end — to see lives and livelihoods completely destroyed, without considering the health impact of those decisions as well,” Newsom rationalized.

In recent days, however, Newsom has reversed course, citing alarming increases in infection rates and deaths.

The governor closed bars, made wearing protective facemasks mandatory, reinstituted bans on indoor activities in 19 counties with high infection rates, formed “multi-agency strike teams” to crack down on “people who are thumbing their noses” at restrictions, and threatened counties with a loss of state funds if they balk.

“We have conditioned $2.5 billion in our state budget on applying the spirit and the letter of the law as it relates to health directives at the county level,” Newsom said. “If local officials are unwilling to enforce and are being dismissive, we will condition the distribution of those dollars.”

With these and other actions, Newsom dropped the pretense that fighting the pandemic was fundamentally in the hands of local officials and made it clear that he’s calling the shots. Newsom now owns the pandemic in California every bit as much as President Donald Trump owns it on a national level.

Newsom’s governorship will be defined by how he manages this crisis — especially since he’s fond of terming California a “nation-state” that goes its own way regardless of federal policy.

California could not have reopened had Newsom not declared that it was ready to do so because of relatively low infection rates and the reopening clearly sparked the surge. He said it himself last week: “We reopened our economy and more people mixed…”

However, he did not take any personal responsibility for the cause-and-effect relationship of those two events and seemed to be blaming Californians because they resumed the human interaction that he implied would be safe to resume.

There’s another aspect to the situation that’s also on Newsom — a fierce outbreak of infection in the state’s prisons.

Veteran journalist Dan Morain, in an article for California Healthline, reported in detail, “From Corcoran and Avenal state prisons in the arid Central Valley to historical San Quentin on the San Francisco Bay, California prisons have emerged as raging COVID-19 hot spots, even as the state annually spends more on inmate health care than other big states spend on their entire prison systems.”

San Quentin had no confirmed COVID-19 infections until, for some reason, it received a transfer of infected inmates. Its outbreak was so severe that the state Senate convened a special hearing during which legislators roasted prison officials — all Newsom appointees.

“That was nothing more than the worst prison health screwup in state history,” Assemblyman Marc Levine, whose district includes San Quentin, told the hearing. “We did not meet this moment.” It was an obvious dig at Newsom, who’s fond of the phrase, “meet the moment.”

Despite the infection surge, Newsom remains outwardly hopeful, saying, “We bent the curve in the state of California once, we will bend the curve again.”

However, if it doesn’t bend, Newsom — fairly or not — will bear the onus. It’s his pandemic now.

Dan Walters is a columnist for CALmatters

California’s political campaigns transformed by coronavirus, Black Lives Matter

With a resurgent coronavirus raging across California and anti-racism rallies and protests a near-daily occurrence, there’s a brand-new focus as candidates gear up for the fall campaign.

Rep. Harley Rouda, an Orange County Democrat, sent out a standard fundraising email Tuesday, looking for re-election cash. But the message was anything but traditional.

“These last few months have tested our leaders — and we’ve seen far too many fail,” the email read. “From organizing a PPE (personal protective equipment) drive in Orange County, to marching for Black lives, to simply wearing a mask, Harley has stood out for his leadership in this crisis.”

Nothing about the economy. Nothing about foreign affairs. Nothing about what he has done for his district in his 18 months in Washington, or any of the other campaign standbys. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle

Proposition 19 is Latest Assault on taxpayers

The assaults on California property owners and taxpayers never stop. And once again the California Legislature has advanced a massive tax increase at the last possible moment when they thought no one was paying attention.

Assembly Constitutional Amendment No. 11 (ACA11), approved by the California Legislature, takes away Proposition 13 protections that California families have under current law and replaces them with a billion-dollar tax increase. Voters will have an opportunity to reject this scheme come November, as ACA11 will appear on the ballot as Proposition 19.

After the historic passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, Californians finally had certainty about their future property tax liability because increases in the “taxable value” of property were limited to 2 percent per year. Property would be reassessed to market value only when it changed hands. To prevent families from getting hit with huge tax increases, voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 58 in 1986, changing the state constitution to ensure that transfers of certain property between parents and children could occur without triggering the sticker shock of reassessment.

Under Prop. 58, a home of any value and up to a million dollars of assessed value of other property may be transferred between parents and children without reassessment. Proposition 19 (2020) would repeal Proposition 58 (1986) and force the reassessment of inherited or transferred property within families. The only exception is if the property is used as the principal residence of the person to whom it was transferred, and even that exclusion is capped.

To read the entire column, please click here.

Bay Area Rents Plummeted in June

Bay Area apartment rents continued to drop in June as the coronavirus kept most offices closed and layoffs mounted.

One-bedroom rents fell compared to the prior year in 27 of 31 Bay Area cities tracked by Zumper, a real estate listings website. The biggest drops were concentrated in major Silicon Valley tech hubs, including Cupertino, the home of Apple; Mountain View, where Google is headquartered; and Menlo Park, Facebook’s hometown. Those cities have some of the region’s highest rents. Emeryville was the only East Bay city that saw a double-digit drop.

San Francisco’s one-bedroom rents plunged 11.8%, the highest drop on record and the biggest among major U.S. cities. The city remains the most expensive in the country. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle.