Will Bay Area political crowd trump LA yet again?

Gavin newsomIt’s been a fait accompli that Gavin Newsom, the former San Francisco mayor and current lieutenant governor, will be California’s next governor after the iconic Jerry Brown heads off into the sunset next year. Moonbeam is a hard act to follow, having served as the state’s youngest and oldest chief executive, but it’s too bad California can’t at least muster a feisty and contentious political debate before crowning another Bay Area pol as successor.

You know, where politicians actually debate issues, take varying political stances and give voters a choice rather than a coronation.

It’s hard to understand Southern California’s inability to exert much clout at the highest levels of California government. Brown is from Oakland. U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, the former state attorney general who got here start under the tutelage of former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, already is touted as the inevitable Democratic nominee for president.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, whose slim accomplishments certainly are on par with those of Harris, is mostly garnering skepticism for his possible presidential run. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is from Marin County and Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon is, of course, from Los Angeles, but he’s too busy dealing with an unfolding sexual-harassment scandal in his own chamber to have the time for a serious shot at her U.S. Senate seat.

De Leon and the low-key Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, have the top legislative spots, but they’ve mostly rubberstamped the governor’s priorities. No one would suggest that either man is a true power broker – or is on the fast track to the governor’s mansion or the U.S. Capitol. There’s little doubt that Southern California politicians play second fiddle to their Bay Area counterparts and don’t even put up a fuss about it.

They rarely set an agenda that’s distinct from the one set by their Bay Area betters, so perhaps that explains why a region with so many people can’t seem to keep up with the power of an area that’s far less populous. San Francisco Democrats and Los Angeles ones are both progressive – but their priorities should not be interchangeable. The demographics and economies are vastly different between the state’s two megalopolises.

The latest Public Policy Institute of California poll offers some mixed news for Southlanders. For instance, Newsom’s latest lead is far lower than expected. He is favored by 23 percent of surveyed voters, with former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, also a Democrat, coming in a surprisingly close second at 18 percent. The other contenders, including the two lackluster Republicans (John Cox and Travis Allen), are in single digits. With the top-two primary system, the top two vote-getters face off in the general election even if they are from the same party.

In the Senate race, Feinstein is besting de Leon by a two-to-one margin, and around half of the voters surveyed had never even heard of de Leon, which is perfectly understandable given his underwhelming tenure in the Capitol. De Leon did throw a really cool $50,000 party at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in 2014 to celebrate his inauguration as Senate president pro tempore, but apparently the “glitz-fest,” as the Sacramento Bee called it, didn’t help any lasting name identification.

On the surface, Villaraigosa’s competitiveness in the gubernatorial race does offer hope that a Southern California politician could once again lead the state. But don’t get your hopes up. He admirably has taken on the teachers’ unions to advance school reform, but he also touched the third rail of politics, when he called for “changes” to 1978’s property-tax-limiting Proposition 13. Instituting a “split roll,” for instance, would dramatically increase the tax bill paid by commercial property owners.

This is more than a policy problem. Villaraigosa’s path to the governor’s mansion involves rallying Southern Californians, Latinos and remaining conservative and Republican-oriented voters. The latter comprise a falling 26 percent of voters, but it’s a significant enough block to create a path to victory. But attacking Prop. 13 tax protection is a nonstarter for that group.

Last November, former Orange County Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez seemed to embrace a similar political strategy (Latinos, mod Dems, Southern Californians, Republicans) to take on Harris for the U.S. Senate race, but despite her more moderate positions, her Latina background and SoCal credentials, Sanchez could only muster 38 percent of the vote. Unless, Villaraigosa expands his appeal, he is likely to face a similar fate.

“It looks just like the Harris race that it’s preordained that the candidate from the Bay Area will get the position rather than a qualified Latino candidate from Southern California,” said Alan Clayton, a San Gabriel Valley-based redistricting expert. “The political class in California protects its own, and they are significantly from the Bay Area.”

For Southern Californians to have a greater voice in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., Southern California Democrats have to speak with a more regional voice – one that focuses on public-sector reform, fiscal responsibility and on working-class concerns (jobs, housing, etc.) rather than the often-bizarre fixations of San Francisco liberals. Until then, expect a county that’s more populous than 40 other states to remain the lapdog to the Bay Area political establishment.

Steven Greenhut is a Sacramento-based writer. 

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Travis Allen surges to top Republican, #3 overall in Governor’s race!

Travis-Allen-Associated-PressDespite Republican opponent John Cox’s spending over $3 million already in his race for Governor, conservative Assemblyman Travis Allen (R – Huntington Beach) has surged past Cox in a USC statewide poll released today, and is now in the #3 spot over-all in the 2018 race for California Governor, and is the top Republican contender. Allen gained the support of 15% of voters who plan to cast ballots in the primary.  Cox received the support just 11% — and is now in a more distant #5 spot in the race to beat Gavin Newsom.  In the last series of polls, Allen has been consistently gaining percentage support, while Cox has consistently declined, despite spending much more than Allen on consultants and social media advertising for his campaign.  Cox has had trouble convincing Republican volunteer group members to support him in recent weeks, as it was revealed that he did not support the Republican party nominee for President – Donald Trump, in the last election, and instead says he voted for the Libertarian Party nominee, Gary Johnson.

Here are the poll results:

Gavin Newsom (D): 31%

Antonio Villaraigosa (D): 21%

Travis Allen (R): 15%

John Chiang (D): 12%

John Cox (R): 11%

To read the Los Angeles Times story on the USC poll, click here: http://beta.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-latimes-senate-governor-primary-poll-20171109-story.html

 

Sexual harassment scandal at state Capitol causing headaches for other state Democrats

Raul BocanegraThe far-reaching reverberations from the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal continue to roil the state Capitol more than two weeks after 147 women released a letter denouncing a culture of pervasive male harassment and abuse in the Legislature.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Daily News published an editorial that said the only sitting lawmaker known to have been formally rebuked for sexual harassment – Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, D-Los Angeles (pictured) – should resign.

“While Bocanegra has apologized for his conduct, we believe the best way for him to serve the public at this point is to resign from office,” the Daily News editorial concluded.

The Los Angeles Times story that revealed Bocanegra’s rebuke could also portend headaches for Democratic lawmakers who knew about the incident that got him in trouble but who either kept quiet or actively helped Bocanegra’s career. The story was based on an interview with his victim, Elise Flynn Gyore, who provided a copy of the Assembly Rules Committee letter rebuking Bocanegra.

The incident that led to the complaint to the Rules Committee came at a 2009 Sacramento event in which Bocanegra – then the chief of staff for then-Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, D-Los Angeles – allegedly reached down the blouse of Gyore, then a staffer for state Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello. Bocanegra also acted in a way Gyore characterized as stalking.

A subsequent Sacramento Bee story detailed how Bocanegra’s rebuke didn’t get in the way of his political ascent. He was elected to the Assembly in 2012. Among those who helped him with donations or endorsements: then-Assemblyman Isadore Hall, D-Compton, who served on the Assembly Rules Committee while it reviewed the allegations against Bocanegra, and then-Sen. Calderon, whom Gyore said knew about what Bocanegra had done.

Hall went on to serve in the state Senate before losing a bid for Congress last year. In January, Hall was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board, with an annual salary of $142,095. Hall, 45, is expected to seek elected office again in coming years.

Calderon was convicted in 2016 of federal corruption charges and is now serving a 42-month prison sentence.

Gyore is now chief of staff for Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, who has been among the leading advocates in the Legislature for holding lawmakers accountable for their bad behavior.

Villaraigosa, Newsom may face questions over their past scandals

The Bocanegra case has many insiders wondering what California politician might next come under fire for inappropriate behavior or worse. But the increasing focus on politicians’ treatment of and attitudes about women could eventually lead to tough questions for the two Democratic frontrunners to replace termed-out Gov. Brown in the 2018 election.

In 2007, when he was mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa revealed that he was involved romantically with a much-younger TV journalist, leading to his marriage’s collapse and his divorce in 2010.

The Los Angeles Times reported then that Telemundo reporter-anchor Mirthala Salinas, 35, apparently began her affair with Villaraigosa, 54, while she was covering the mayor for her network.

Villaraigosa got remarried in 2016.

Also in 2007, then-San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom was involved in a messy office scandal. Alex Tourk, Newsom’s campaign manager and former deputy chief of staff, abruptly resigned “after confronting the mayor about an affair Newsom had with his wife while she worked in the mayor’s office,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Ruby Rippey-Tourk had been Newsom’s appointments secretary for two years.

The New York Times gave national coverage to what it described as “a fast-unfolding scandal with all the sex and betrayal of a tawdry novel,” noting that the affair came while Newsom was “in the throes of a divorce.” But after Newsom repeatedly apologized, his political career continued, seemingly unaffected.

In 2008, he got married for a second time.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Mandatory composting? Gavin Newsom isn’t shying away from his liberal record

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

Gavin Newsom, the lieutenant governor running to succeed Jerry Brown, was nearly an hour into his town hall meeting late Wednesday when someone asked about protecting the planet.

“I was the guy who brought you the plastic bag ban in San Francisco,” the former mayor told the graying Roseville audience gathered in a community center 100 miles outside his progressive city.

“You thought gay marriage was controversial,” Newsom added to sustained laughter, “we required composting in San Francisco. That was controversial. They had garbage police out there checking in my cans to make sure the egg shells were in the appropriate bin.”

In the foothills of the Sierra, and at a stop last week in Salida, just outside of Modesto, the Democratic frontrunner whose national profile was born out of his decision to distribute the marriage licenses to same-sex couples offered the clearest indication yet that the tenets of his gubernatorial campaign are rooted in his liberal record. …

 Click here to read the full article

Nutty John Cox for California Governor?

John CoxJohn Cox was hardly a serious candidate for governor of California when the first UC Berkeley/IGS poll was announced earlier this year in March and gave him, the only Republican listed in the poll, 18 percent of the vote and the prized second spot against Gavin Newsom, suggesting to amateur political observers that he might have a chance to get into a November 2018 Republican vs. Democrat run-off with Newsom, offering the California GOP its first long-shot chance at statewide office in years. The ensuing press reports took Cox seriously. But none of the reporters did much homework on Cox, labeling him positively as a political newcomer or outsider. They all failed to mention he had been on the ballot before in California, with an awful showing. The reporters could have recalled for readers that Cox was surely not a fresh face to our statewide ballot, and that the last time he was on it, he ran for the Republican nomination for president in the February, 2008 primary, and proved a miserable votegetter, barely mustering 3,200 votes statewide, finishing with .01 percent, while both John McCain and Mitt Romney drew over a million votes each.

Cox, a native of Illinois, is a candidate for governor who must NOT be taken seriously. He is a serial candidate, and what older Republican operatives might label a “Harold Stassen.” Stassen once served as governor of Minnesota and was termed a “boy wonder,” but was bit so hard by the political bug that he ran for the GOP nomination for president, unsuccessfully, 9 times in a row, losing every time. Yet Cox differs from Stassen in that Cox has never won any elective office, and he has run plenty of times. He has actually hit a trifecta of losses having run for every federal office one can, losing each time. Cox has run for Cook County Clerk, Congress, and U.S. Senate, all in Illinois, losing all the races, all losses by wide margins.

But in 2008, despite all his previous electoral defeats, Cox decided to run for president as well. He says he contributed $1 million to his campaign, visited all 99 counties in Iowa, campaigned hard in New Hampshire with 14 visits, visited South Carolina 10 times to campaign, and appeared on the ballot in California. During his campaign, he got into an altercation with security at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley because his campaign performance had proven so insignificant that they would not let him in to the presidential debate. Even though he was excluded, he still tried to use a questionable media credential to enter the premises under the ruse he was a fake press operative. His vote-getting prowess was a disaster – he received not one delegate to the Republican National Convention. In major counties in California that will be very important to the governor’s race, like Fresno, for example, he got just 60 votes across the county’s three congressional districts, according to the California Secretary of State’s office.

By June 2017, Cox quickly fell in the gubernatorial race polls, losing 50 percent of his initial support, in the second UC Berkeley/IGS  poll when just one other Republican was added to the mix by the poll authors – this time former Assemblyman David Hadley, who was not an announced candidate for governor at the time he was added to the poll and who has since stated he is not running for the office. The significance of the second poll, with Cox running hard for several months yet dropping from 18 percent to 9 percent as an announced candidate, and Hadley at 7 percent as an unannounced candidate with no campaign, established that Republicans had hardly raised a groundswell of support for Cox in the first poll, rather, Cox made a showing in the first poll in March because he was the only candidate on the poll Republicans had to chose from. As soon as another Republican was put on the list to chose from in the second poll, even someone not running for the office at the time, Cox’s support quickly and very significantly tanked.

Cox’s lack of real support was evidenced again in a poll in Silicon Valley in May where, once again, when listed as the only Republican on the ballot he received 16 percent of the vote, however, when the poll considered “favorability,” Cox garnered a terrible 3 percent, the lowest favorability rate of all the candidates.

When asked, Cox would not tell the San Francisco Chronicle whether or not he voted for Donald Trump for president. While Cox’s strategy may be to separate himself from Trump, who surely is not as popular in California as Gavin Newsom, Cox will not be endearing himself with the thousands of members of Republican volunteer organizations in the state who care about their party’s candidates. Members of the California Republican Woman’s Federated Clubs, for example, who form many local clubs that are the backbone of the state GOP’s grass-roots operations, may or may not have supported Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential race, but they surely all overwhelmingly voted for him as the Republican Party’s candidate for president, even if some of them had to “hold their noses” out of party loyalty. These voters will not be impressed with Cox’s lack of candor about his own presidential vote, which will stink to them of party disloyalty.

The issues Californians and Republicans care about in opinion polls, like being taxed too much, do not appear on Cox’s radar screen. Cox’s central campaign theme is his “Neighborhood Legislature” idea, to expand the California Senate and Assembly to 12,000 members. It is truly a nutty idea that has no support in opinion polls. While the state Legislature truly is in need of reform, like making itself a part-time body, world history tells us increasing its size to that of a small coastal city is not going to improve policy. There were also thousands of members of the Soviet Union’s legislative body, far too many, intentionally, to actually make decisions, and the result was the concentration of power in a small committee known as the Politburo, which established a “dictatorship of the proletariat.” We are close enough as it is today with near dictatorship of Democratic control in Sacramento, to just add thousands more people to the legislative ranks.

What California needs is some political balance, and if the Republican Party can settle on a single, strong candidate to run for governor in a field of many Democrats, there is indeed a long-shot chance a united GOP could get their candidate into a run-off with a Democrat and then see what happens. The fact is Maryland, Massachusetts and Illinois, all deeply “blue” Democratic states, currently have Republican governors, elected to balance Democratic control in the state. It would be a tough order for the GOP to fulfill, but not impossible, as long as Republicans end up with a candidate with a much better vote-getting history, and who runs on issues voters actually care about, than nutty John Cox.

 

Assemblyman Travis Allen Wants Your Vote for California Governor

On the KTLA 5 News, Huntington Beach Assemblyman Travis Allen (R) lays out his campaign platform for California governor, including drought response and a plan to repeal Gov. Brown’s gas tax.

Politicians don’t deserve your hard-earned money

Pension moneyIt must be getting to the end of June. My junk and regular email boxes are filled with pleas from various political organizations and candidates begging for money prior to the end of the reporting period. Apparently, once the calendar reaches July 1st, politicians turn into pumpkins and must report their contributions for the world to see.

For California gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom this means:

Gavin needs to hit a big goal before the public filing deadline – and we were making progress, but now membership numbers are coming to a halt. This is the worst possible time to see a drop-off like this. Gavin’s numbers go public soon and reporters will pick them apart. Opponents will look for weaknesses.

We have the chance right now to elect Gavin and blow past the nonsense in Washington. We will make sure every Californian has health care and affordable education. We will take smart climate action and defend immigrant families. But we can ONLY do this if you chip in to hit this goal. Time’s running out, so a group of donors has agreed to match every dollar you give now to help Gavin.

Newsom isn’t alone in his plea for funds that more resembles Cinderella’s curfew than what we see in the real world of politics: Scott Walker asked me to open up my check book to further the conservative cause for the same reason. A group just contacted me who warned of the threat Senator Elizabeth Warren posed.

With the health care debate at the forefront of American politics, Democrats have come out in force to expand Obamacare. This alarming email was received which said:

Senator Elizabeth Warren thinks she knows what is right for all Californians: single payer health care. The Democrats don’t want you to think for yourself, and Elizabeth Warren is taking her radical agenda and bringing it to the front door of California.

The Senator from Massachusetts was quoted in the San Diego Union Tribune as saying: “Now it’s time for the next step. And the next step is single payer.” The solicitation concluded: It is important that you help stop Elizabeth Warren from forcing her ideals onto the people of California. Donate today and keep Warren out of CA.

Even House Majority Leader Paul Ryan has entered the fray saying:

Not only have we secured these policy wins, but we’ve also had incredible results with the special elections. So let’s add one more victory to our list by closing out the month with a strong FEC report. Chip in $50 right now. Because we need to finish strong, I am triple matching every donation made to House Republicans before midnight tomorrow.

In evaluating these pleas for cash, I have to ask the obvious question, what have you done for me lately?

In the case of Gavin Newsom, the prospect of having sanctuary cities, free education and single payer health insurance for the entire state – including illegal aliens – is what he offers. The only thing that scares me more than this agenda is figuring out how to pay for it. Apparently there won’t be enough money left from Newsom’s campaign fund to take care of any of his social programs.

In the same vein I’m not sure my donations will do much to stop Elizabeth Warren’s invasion of my state to impose her health care ideas down my throat. Unless money collected was to be used as a bribe to thwart the senator from Massachusetts from invading my turf, purchasing lottery tickets would seem to be a better investment for me.

As for Paul Ryan it would be difficult for me to send him my hard earned dollars because other than winning a few special elections, what has Congress accomplished the past several months? Most of their energy has been spent on ridiculous Russian investigations that are likely to be headed in the direction to the “stairway to heaven” school of politics.

Hey dude! Take care of fixing Obamacare and pass some tax reform legislation before you ask me to spring for more contributions.

And for my own Congressman Mark De Saulnier, D-Concord, who just sent an urgent message:

We are one day away from a critical fundraising deadline. Unfortunately, we’re falling short of our goal this quarter. This is my least favorite part of the job, but I have to ask for your help.

Fundraising allows me to keep fighting for you in Congress, where I’m trying to do my part to elect more Democrats. I need your help to continue doing my job, and to help my vulnerable colleagues keep their jobs. We’re doing everything we can to protect healthcare, women’s rights and living wages. There’s too much at stake to lose any seats in 2018.

All I can say, Mark, is that it is difficult to send money to an individual who has never had a viable opponent for occupying a seat in the House of Representatives. For what you are doing in constantly following the coat tails of Nancy Pelosi in Trump bashing, and not working with the Republican majority, giving you additional cash seems to be a waste of money.

If you are not going to interact with Republicans, at least get some pork barrel projects for the district which might create jobs and opportunity for us unlucky stiffs who are living in the boondocks. I don’t care if you are a Democrat or a Republican. Just get something done for your constituents who Congress has failed.

One last footnote for Gavin and all the others. Why would anyone other than a lobbyist or political hack care how much money has been donated to a campaign when the reporting period comes to a conclusion?

Has our democratic system of government sunk to such a low level that we would want to eliminate candidates for public office because they would not have enough funding to effectively compete? Talk about a lesson of elitism in action? This is an awful concept. Gag me with a spoon!

To the whole lot of you both Democrats and Republicans; don’t ask me to give money to your damn political campaigns. All you do is to fulfill Hunter Thompson’s immortal words, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” As the 4th of July approaches, take a flying leap away from me.

Gavin Newsom to pitch universal health care as California governor’s race grows crowded

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is drafting a health care plan for California that he plans to unveil as a core component of his gubernatorial run, based in part on the universal health care program he signed into law when he was mayor of San Francisco.

Newsom, seen as a strong contender in the increasingly crowded field of candidates vying to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown in 2018, is staking out an ambitious plan to rein in rising health care costs, expand universal access to people across the state regardless of income or immigration status, and preserve coverage for the estimated 5 million Californians who risk losing their insurance under President Donald Trump’s changes.

“I think we can learn a lot for the state of California from what we did with Healthy San Francisco,” Newsom said in an interview. “We had the resourcefulness, the resources, and the boldness and audacity to try something new. It’s not necessarily something that can be adopted in all 58 counties, but it can be adopted …. where the majority of California’s population is.”

The idea would likely require substantial state and federal funding. …

Click here to read the full article

5 ways Donald Trump could block legal marijuana in California

Buds are removed from a container at the "Oregon's Finest" medical marijuana dispensary in Portland, Oregon April 8, 2014. Over 20 Oregon cities and counties are moving to temporarily ban medical marijuana dispensaries ahead of a May deadline, reflecting a divide between liberal Portland and more conservative rural areas wary about allowing medical weed. Portland, Oregon's largest city, already has a number of medical marijuana clinics and has not moved to ban them. Picture taken April 8, 2014. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola (UNITED STATES - Tags: DRUGS SOCIETY POLITICS HEALTH) - RTR3KMHE

The Trump administration has made clear that it will not look the other way when it comes to de facto state legalization of marijuana, as the Obama administration did. Instead, White House press secretary Sean Spicer last week said the states that have approved the use of recreational pot – California is one of eight – would face a reckoning because marijuana use remains a federal crime under the Controlled Substances Act.

State Democrats immediately denounced the possibility of a federal crackdown and took a defiant tone, starting with Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a key sponsor of Proposition 64, the ballot measure approved with 56 percent support in November that sets up the framework for legal pot sales and use beginning Jan. 1, 2018. Newsom released a letter that called Spicer “grossly uninformed” for saying legal pot could make the opioid epidemic worse and warned that a federal intervention would help “drug cartels and criminals” by keeping the sale of marijuana a black-market, illegal practice.

Xavier Becerra, recently installed as state attorney general, also vowed in a statement that he would “protect the interests of California” from federal intrusion.

A Los Angeles Times report quoted attorneys as saying California could argue that it has a legal right to control drug rules within its borders.

Constitution gives federal government final say

But legal websites and U.S. history suggest that a federal government that is determined to enforce federal laws would be a very difficult obstacle for a state to overcome.

“The Supremacy Clause is a clause within Article VI of the U.S. Constitution which dictates that federal law is the ‘supreme law of the land,’” the FindLaw website notes. “This means that judges in every state must follow the Constitution, laws and treatises of the federal government in matters which are directly or indirectly within the government’s control. Under the doctrine of preemption, which is based on the Supremacy Clause, federal law preempts state law, even when the laws conflict.”

A federal crackdown could come in several forms:

  1. Drug Enforcement Administration agents could stage raids on pot farms and dispensaries, as they did memorably in 2012 at Oakland’s massive Oaksterdam medical pot outlet. U.S. marshals and IRS agents joined in the raid.
  2. Federal authorities could warn property owners that their land and buildings would be seized unless they evict pot farmers or dispensaries.
  3. The federal government can compel cooperation through a lawsuit. An Associated Press analysis noted that this is what happened in 2010, when a federal suit forced Arizona to scrap an immigration law that the Justice Department said trampled on federal authority.
  4. The federal courts can also compel action, such as what happened last year in Kentucky, when a county clerk who objected to issuing licenses for same-sex marriage was overruled.
  5. The Treasury, Justice and Homeland Security Departments can all use existing laws to hammer banks and credit unions that accept deposits that can be linked in any way to marijuana-generated funds or if they provide any services to dispensaries. “Financial institutions face significant risk for violating federal law if they offer banking services to marijuana-related businesses,” an American Bankers Association web page warns. “The federal statutory barriers include the Controlled Substance Act, USA Patriot Act, Bank Secrecy Act, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and other federal statutes.” The RICO law in particular gives law enforcement wide latitude to classify activities that may seem in a gray area as illegal, which is why it’s long been a target of advocates of legal reform.

These five ways the Trump administration could crack down on a state attempting to legalize recreational drug use are only the short list. In an era in which sweeping executive orders have become the norm, Attorney General Jeff Sessions – an ardent foe of legal pot – could ask President Trump to withhold federal funds for law enforcement or health programs from defiant states.

While Spicer was emphatic about a new federal approach to state marijuana laws, he offered no timetables for action. Sessions has so far focused on other issues in his first weeks at the Justice Department.

This piece was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Gov. Brown Strong on Rage, Light on Solutions to State’s Problems

Photo courtesy Steve Rhodes, flickr

Photo courtesy Steve Rhodes, flickr

What is the state of the state in California? Apparently it’s under siege. Gov. Jerry Brown’s annual address sounded more like a commander rallying his troops to resist an occupying force than an informative report from the state government’s chief executive.

“The recent election and inauguration of a new president have shown deep divisions across America,” said Brown. “While no one knows what the new leaders will actually do, there are signs that are disturbing. . . . Familiar signposts of our democracy – truth, civility, working together – have been obscured or swept aside.”

He returned to the theme moments later, saying that “while we now face different challenges, make no mistake: the future is uncertain and dangers abound. . . . this is a time which calls out for courage and for perseverance.” He promised that as leader of the resistance, he would provide both.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon set the tone before Brown spoke. He railed about “the threats from the new administration to our state’s values and its people,” then declared himself to be “glad to have Gov. Edmund G. Brown fighting with us and for all of us,” as if Brown were preparing to lead soldiers into battle.

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León followed, declaring that the California proposition that “every person should enjoy the right to be exactly who they want to be and have an equal opportunity to succeed” is “now under threat.”

And rather than take a more judicious path, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom continued the theme.

“In the last few months,” he said, “we have announced repeatedly and emphatically that we are unafraid to fight.”

Is this the way that the political leaders of a dynamic and influential state should be conducting themselves? These are the people that Californians elected to run the government and make the laws. Is creating an illusion that the state has to defend itself from invaders the best they can do?

Brown called California the “great exception,” which is what it once was, attracting opportunity seekers and tireless workers from across the country and all over the world. But now it’s the “great exception” because even as the Blue State model has been rejected elsewhere, California won’t let go of the government architecture that has caused breakdowns in Connecticut, New Jersey and Vermont – formerly rich states that strangled themselves with layers of government – and in big cities all over the U.S. map.

Entrenched issues that truly plague Californians were not addressed by Brown. The state’s broken, unreliable, unfair and punitive income tax system wasn’t mentioned. Neither was the pension crisis that threatens the economy; the housing crunch which jeopardizes the future; the high cost of energy and the coming energy crisis; the state’s hostile business climate;; and Sacramento’s taste for free spending.

Neither did the Governor talk about poverty.  As Assemblyman Dante Acosta wrote, “he missed the opportunity to call out his own party which has overseen the state for decades with a policy agenda that preaches compassion, but routinely ignores the problems that truly drive poverty.”

The only bright spot of Brown’s entire speech was his stated commitment to infrastructure improvement. California’s roads are a wreck, among the worst in the United States, and need attention. If the governor believes infrastructure is a priority, then he needs to take on that job. And that doesn’t mean leaning on Washington for more funds. It means using those fuel tax dollars Californians already send to Sacramento that should be applied to transportation projects.

It’s much easier to feign conflict with a nonexistent enemy than it is to do the hard political work of getting California back on track. That would require some grit and an abandonment of the old ideas that have brought the state to this creaky point. It takes less effort to oratorically stir up the masses and peel their eyes off the real problems, and refocus them on imagined hobgoblins.

California’s future is truly at risk, but not because the presidential candidate most voters in the state supported wasn’t elected.

Kerry Jackson is a fellow at the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.

This piece was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily