ACA25 Lays Waste To The Notion Of Legislative Transparency

Times are strange indeed when the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association finds itself fighting on the same side as left-leaning organizations such as Voices for Progress, Common Cause and the ACLU. The saying that politics makes for strange bedfellows is never more true than in times of crisis and confusion.

When the COVID-19 virus descended on California, it caused near panic throughout the state. Because we knew so little, our elected leaders were probably justified in heeding the advice of health officials who recommended strict shelter-in-place orders.

Among the institutions placed on lockdown was the California Legislature. The emergency necessitated immediate action back in March, but on June 10, when lawmakers returned to the Capitol, the California Assembly quickly passed Assembly Constitutional Amendment 25 to address how the legislature would operate during a statewide emergency in the future.

Proving the adage that “haste makes waste,” ACA25 was rushed through the Assembly in only three weeks. By the time transparency advocates were aware of what was happening, they had little opportunity to analyze it or provide meaningful commentary. The proposed constitutional amendment is now pending in the California Senate. Without mincing words, ACA25 lays waste to the notion of legislative transparency.

To read the entire column, please click here.

Mail-In Ballot Bill Passes Senate, Governor Signs

AB 860 a Governor’s signature away from becoming law

Assembly Bill 860, authored by Assemblyman Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park), managed to draw more of a bipartisan support compared to earlier versions of the bill by adding an amendment that specifically stops inactive voters from receiving a ballot. Previous bill changes, such as extending the vote received deadline for county officials by 20 days after an election day, also won over many with concerns about votes by mail arriving on time.

Assemblyman Berman wrote AB 860 as a direct response to the coronavirus epidemic, with the bill a way for voters to safely social distance while voting and to give those who usually voted in-person who had not asked for an absentee ballot an option in November.

“No one should have to risk their health – and possibly their life – to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” said Assemblyman Berman in a statement on Thursday. “In the midst of a deadly health pandemic, giving all California voters the opportunity to vote from the safety of their own home is the responsible thing to do. I am grateful that so many of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle agree, and I look forward to Governor Newsom signing AB 860. This bill gives voters the peace of mind to know that they can safely participate in their democracy, and allows our elections officials to continue making the necessary arrangements for the general election.”

AB 860 and SB 423 amended several times to meet GOP concerns

In addition to previous concerns over inactive voters receiving ballots, a sister Senate bill has been moving up alongside AB 860 to address concerns about being able to vote in-person. Senate Bill 423, authored by Senator Tom Umberg (D-Santa Ana) would require a minimum number of in-person polling places to set up on election day, ensuring a choice for voters.

“Both Berman and Umberg have been meeting every concern that pops up,” explained Max Reyes, a Los Angeles lawyer who has helped on election lawsuits. “Many have been questioning whether AB 860 could change voting totals by having others vote in place of others in those inactive ballots, but the recent amendment put aside enough fears for many GOP lawmakers to finally side with the law. Adding 20 days at the end for ballot counting also helped ease many fears about ballot counting. SB 423 removes any doubts people have about being forced to vote-by-mail. And California has also been strict on voter fraud cases.

AB 860 wasn’t passed because of it being a way for people to safely vote. Not entirely. It was passed because it kept needing to be changed to counter big points being raised against it. Remember, some Democrats were concerned about the bill in it’s early days too. AB 860 largely became a compromise bill at the end by giving people assurances and set in stone amendments.” …

Click here to read the full article from the California Globe.

The Coming Battle Over Affirmative Action

California will have another battle over “affirmative action” this fall when the legislature puts a measure on the ballot to repeal Proposition 209, the 1996 ban on affirmative action. While proponents claim this is an effort to redress low numbers of “underrepresented minorities” in California higher education, the impact will be to reduce the number of Asian Americans in our colleges and universities.

In 1996, when Proposition 209 passed, the University of California student body was 3.7 percent black, 13 percent Latino, 36 percent Asian and 38 percent white.  At the time an article in the Los Angeles Times noted that, “Experts predict that the University of California’s recent rollback of affirmative action admissions will increase the number of students of Asian descent on campus, because most Asian Americans do not benefit from current admissions policies, which give preference to underrepresented minorities.  Asian Americans also meet the university’s admission requirements at a higher rate than any other group.”

That happened, but perhaps not as dramatically as anticipated. By 2018, the student body was still 3.7 percent black, but now 40 percent Asian. But Latinos also increased their percentage to 26 percent, while whites fell to 20 to 22 percent.

So in the quarter century of no affirmative action, the UC population actually came to more closely represent the state’s demographics.  Today the undrer-18 population is five percent black, so little change there.  It is now only 27 percent white, so the drop in white enrollment.   It is 52 percent Latino, and Latinos have rapidly entered the middle class since 1996, and as a result the percent of Latinos at UC campuses has doubled to 26 percent.

But the Asian percentages are the most dramatic, 40 percent of the UC enrollment.  According to the Lucille Packard Foundation Asians account for only 11 percent of under-18 Californians.  The overall Asian population in California is estimated at about 14 percent of the total population. 

Over these past decades, the UC system and liberal politicians have tied themselves in knots over what they called “underrepresented minorities.”  Strictly speaking that should include whites who attend the UC schools at slightly below their ethnic percentages, but it is limited to blacks, Latinos and Native Americans, who are also at below their percentages.

But this can only be rectified by reducing the percentage of Asians in our colleges.  Affirmative action only works if you can somehow quota Asians applicants, as at onetime the “Jewish quota” was used to reduce the percentage of Jewish students at the Ivy League schools.

However, to do this in California brings up the ugliest part of our state’s racial history, the “Yellow Peril” that was far more discriminatory against Asians than any other racial group.

The “Yellow Peril” was the belief that hoards of East Asians were threatening to overrun America’s white Christian civilization.  This was especially true here in California following the Gold Rush that had seen massive importation of Chinese workers.  

Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, wrote of the Chinese: “The Chinese are uncivilized, unclean, and filthy beyond all conception, without any of the higher domestic or social relations; lustful and sensual in their dispositions; every female is a prostitute of the basest order.”

Views like these led to the passage in 1882 of the Chinese Exclusion Act that forbad immigration of Chinese and remained American law until the 1940s.  California went to even greater extremes, forcing our Chinese population into ghettos like the San Francisco and Los Angeles Chinatowns.  San Francisco even prohibited Chinese from owning laundries in that city, which led to one of the first civil rights cases in American history, Yick Wo v Hopkins (1886) in which the US Supreme Court ruled that laundries could not be closed down just because Chinese owned them. 

 Chinese are also the only race enshrined in the California Constitution, to make certain they could not be employed: “No corporation now existing or hereafter formed under the laws of this State, shall, after the adoption of this Constitution, employ directly or indirectly, in any capacity, any Chinese or Mongolian.”  Guess the Founding Fathers in 1879 worried about Mongolians slipping into the country along with the Chinese.  

Having dealt with the Chinese part of the Yellow Peril, California then turned to the Japanese.  In 1913, the legislature, by a vote of 72 to three in the Assembly and 35 to two in the Senate, passed the Alien Land Act, which prohibited “aliens ineligible for citizenship” (read that as Japanese) from owning agricultural land.  In the 1930s, California’s attorney general spent much of his time prosecuting Japanese immigrants who were trying to put their land in the names of their American born children.

Certainly, the most famous manifestation of the Yellow Peril was the incarceration of Japanese Americans in rural camps beginning in 1942.  This action was upheld by the US Supreme Court in the famous Korematsu v. US decision in 1944.  That decision was not formally overturned by the US Supreme Court until 2018.  The Alien Land Act remained on the books in California until 1952 and was still being enforced after World War II.

So our history shows only one instance of systemic and legal discrimination by race: that against Asians.  The real threat of the Yellow Peril was that Asians worked hard, and it took many years to overcome this discrimination.  Higher education is much the same, Asian high school kids work harder, and so they make it into the best universities. 

Even though Asians were the victims of the greatest examples of racism in California history, and were specifically single out for discrimination in the first Constitution, they don’t count as protected minorities.  In fact, affirmative action clearly discriminates against Californians of Asian descent.  UC Regent Chairman John Perez seemed to acknowledge this in calling on the Regents to endorse the new affirmative action: “If we are going to be serious about creating a university that truly serves the public interest, we cannot be silent. We cannot be neutral.”  He’s right; neutrality in university admissions means more Asian admissions, just as predicted in 1996.

Given the already low percentages of whites in the entering classes, it is impossible to squeeze more places out of the white student body.  The only way a new affirmative action will increase the numbers of black and Latino student is at the expense of Asians.  There is simply no other way.

Perhaps we should have a debate this fall over whether the new affirmative action is really a genteel 21st Century version of the old Yellow Peril, albeit without the racist rhetoric, but sadly with the same results.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily.

Blocking Evictions Sets Off A Harmful Chain Of Events

In the early days of the pandemic lockdowns, San Francisco Mayor London Breed declared a temporary moratorium on evictions of small and mid-size businesses “due to a loss of income related to lost revenue or other economic impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.” She also prohibited evictions from “all residential units, including residential units in residential hotels, regardless how long the resident has been living in their home.”

On June 9, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors permanently barred landlords “from evicting tenants if they can’t pay rent due to coronavirus-related issues, like job loss or getting sick from the virus,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Meanwhile:

  • Other cities have shut down pandemic-related evictions.
  • Gavin Newsom extended his eviction ban through July 28.
  • The Legislature is considering bills that would block residential and commercial evictions.
  • And a moratorium on eviction lawsuits set in April by the Judicial Council, the policymaking body of California’s court system, was nearing expiration but will now go on indefinitely. The council was expected vote last week to lift the rule but instead postponed the decision.

Tenant evictions aren’t generally pleasant affairs. No one likes to see a person’s or a family’s possessions tossed into the street. Losing a home or business is a tragedy. So efforts to prevent evictions seem humanitarian. But a lot lies below the surface.

“Any sustained suspension of rent,” says CityLab, “would have grave consequences for the broader economy. The buck doesn’t stop with landlords.”

Carol Galante of the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California-Berkeley told CityLab that landlords’ mortgages are often securitized, which means “they’re packaged up into bonds and they’re sold as investments, and those investors are expecting a certain interest payment off of those securities on an ongoing basis. If they don’t get those, then those investors suffer.”

Some simply don’t care about capitalists’ financial positions. But many real estate investors underwrite “things like pension funds,” Galante continues, which, adds CityLab reporter Kriston Capps, “support teachers, first responders, and others in ways that may not be wholly apparent every time tenants or homeowners write out their rent and mortgage checks.”

The suffering of today’s investors will influence the decisions of tomorrow’s. The net effect would be a reduction in the stock of rental properties. Mercatus Center researcher Salim Furth explains the effect in more creative terms:

“If you said, let’s go loot grocery stores, they shouldn’t make us pay for food in a crisis, you could loot the grocery store once, but they wouldn’t restock the shelves for you.”

Roger Valdez of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity flat out says “eviction bans don’t help,” and suggested in early April that “to get the policy response right,” providers, residents, and lenders needed to meet at “the table, and develop loans and forbearance to get through the next 90 days.”

It’s a reasonable proposition. The Coase theorem, established in 1960 by economist Ronald Coase (who won the 1991 Nobel in economics for its impact), says when “conflict arises over property rights … then parties will tend to settle on the efficient set of inputs and output.”

It’s a strong argument for allowing private parties to reach solutions on their own. They can hardly create more problems than government orders are guaranteed to.

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

This article was originally published by the Pacific Research Institute.

Factually Examining Climate Change

Most of the world’s leading economic powers – excluding China Russia and Iran – are legitimizing misguided energy and electricity policies based on global warming/climate change (GWCC); the World Health Organization says, “climate change is the number one health threat.” This led to the 97% consensus of scientists believe in anthropogenic global warming “Cook et al. (2013 paper),” which has been “thoroughly refuted in scholarly peer-reviewed journals,” and over ninety seven different articles here.

GWCC is now a political movement guided by environmentalists rejecting science showing the reduction of most pollution. Laws, regulations, environmental awareness, and increased technological gains lowering emissions have done their job. But climate change enthusiasts persist when China, India and Africa are dirtier, and ignore, “U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide fell by 2.8% in 2019, slightly below 2017 levels,” according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Using critical reasoning the catch-all question to ask is whether or not carbon dioxide (CO2) is killing the planet? A report from WiseEnergy.org titled, The Defense of CO2 says no. A second report from Wise Energy objectively analyzes and refutes The Four Pillars Supporting Climate Change Claims from the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the 97% consensus (already debunked in the first paragraph), climate-based computer models (debunked here and here); and extreme weather events.

What if GWCC was viewed as a hypothesis instead of a consensus generating controversy based off faulty modeling? Overhyped consensus and models without empirical evidence makes for poor energy policies. Particularly, when there are multiple variables affecting:

“Differential rotation between the earth’s surface and earth’s core, and the entire solar system’s magnetic field and gravitation interaction.  There are (then) thousands of (changing variables) that affect future temperatures and climate.”

Then soberly examine decades of government monies corrupting universities, scientists/climatologists, and corporations. No wonder skeptics abound in the GWCC debate. A group of mostly retired engineers and scientists from NASA’s Johnson Space Center calling themselves The Right Climate Stuff issued a report questioning the legitimacy of anthropogenic global warming. Without serious debate “science (is) mis-used in environmental policy.” It’s why climatologists like Dr. Judith Curry are maligned and driven from academia over basing climate and energy policies on science instead of non-normative outcomes.

College professor’s become GWCC-whistleblowers opposite the global debate, and peer-reviewed studies showing a majority of scientists skeptical of GWCC crisis foment hateful mobs. Meaning, science is ignored, our leading institutions become corrupted, and energy policy becomes an emotional affair. Leading environmentalists such as Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus have argued the GWCC movement has nothing to do with the climate. Greenpeace co-founder, Patrick Moore, echoes these same sentiments.

Sensible environmentalists are left behind replaced by neo-Malthusian, anti-human doctrines who take the GWCC consensus, as an environmental-shibboleth. When once and for all there is not a 97% consensus about GWCC (this 4:00 video explains it succinctly).

Energy and electricity policy proposals that deem anthropogenic global warming/climate change an “existential threat” to mankind is based on the fear that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuels causes irreversible destruction. This existential threat is “highly questionable according to 31,487 American scientists (9,029 have Ph.D.’s)” who have signed the Global Warming Petition Project.

Then add from 2019 The Climate Intelligence Foundation (CLINTEL), a group of 750 scientists and professionals who sponsored the World Climate Declaration to the United Nations and EU stating: “Climate science should be less political, while climate policies (energy policies) should be more scientific. There declaration also said: “Natural as well as anthropogenic factors cause warming.”

On top of the 750 scientists, another group of 500 prominent scientists led by CLINTELL co-founder Guus Berkhout, from an organization called Friends of Science, a Canadian-based “non-profit organization comprised of active and retired earth and atmospheric scientists, engineers, and other professionals;” sent a registered letter to the United Nations Secretary-General stating “there is no climate emergency and climate policies should be designed to benefit the lives of people.”

Without proper vetting of the GWCC issue from over 32,000 scientists harmful policy proposals such as the American and European Green New Deal that will cause unimaginable harm to “the environment, humans and wildlife” become the norm. No advocate for green new deals has ever explained how to rid the world of fossil fuels or decarbonize when over 6,000 products originate from a barrel of crude oil.

Then why push GWCC? Because of taxpayer monies, feed-in tariffs, and subsidies governments in the U.S. and elsewhere provide to unstable, chaotically intermittent, environmentally toxic, and grid-destroying renewables (solar panels and wind turbines). Michael Moore’s anti-renewables documentary, Planet of the Humans tells the “dismal,” factual story about renewables.

Additionally, the linchpin of renewables are electrical-grid scale battery energy storage systems (BESS), which are not sustainable or technologically advanced to store enough energy to electricity for hours, days, weeks, or months ahead of time when the wind isn’t blowing, or the sun isn’t shining. The only source of carbon-free energy to electricity that is reliable, somewhat affordable, scalable, safe, clean, and abundant are nuclear power plants.

Our world is still “85% dependent on oil, natural gas and coal.” But GWCC-advocates push for billions every year from taxpayers for wind turbines, solar panels, biofuels, and BESS’. Men like Arnold Schwarzenegger see a “gold mine in the (California) Mojave Desert, Al Gore envisions profits, Koch Industries rake earnings from solar and biofuels, groups like the Sierra Club and Union of Concerned Scientists extoll climate doom and renewables for million dollar donations; and 350.org found Bill McKibben made untold monies from left-leaning, political-environmental foundations pushing the GWCC narrative.

Billions of people globally are still in squalor, disease, poverty, malnutrition, and unreliable electricity without examining all the facts in the GWCC narrative. Their lives resembling the dark ages over climate policies without the other side being heard, debated, and included in making energy policies. Instead – examine the power and trillions – behind GWCC and renewables; billions of lives are counting on this false, church-like muck being cast into the dustbin of history.

Todd Royal is a geopolitical risk and energy consultant based in Los Angeles.

The Politics of “Defunding the Police”

Many activists protesting the treatment of Blacks have expressed a policy to “defund the police.” By that statement, some protestors actually mean it. Cut police funding either drastically or all together and send the funds to build up Black and downtrodden communities. Other protestors use the term as a way of saying re-order how public safety funds are used, or as a way to re-imagine policing. 

If this slogan carries prominently through the coming elections, how do voters react to candidates who wholly or tacitly support the catchphrase? 

Much will depend on the constituency of a candidate, but as a major plank in a campaign platform the notion of defunding the police is a wobbly board that could trip up some candidates with voters. 

Former San Francisco Mayor and California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown was blunt in his Sunday San Francisco Chronicle column. “The call to ‘defund the police’ as part of the anti-racism, anti-police-brutality movement is either one of the dumbest ideas of all time or the hands-down winner of the worst slogan ever.” 

Brown went on to write that the concept of defunding police is a “nonstarter.” By using the term, Brown admitted many are saying its time to re-think how we use police. 

But as Claremont McKenna College political science professor John J. Pitney Jr. pointed out, by using the refrain “defunding the police,” what protestors mean by it will be lost because of the slogan itself.  “In politics, it doesn’t matter what you mean to say. What matters is what people hear. When activists talk about “defunding the police,” they mean the reallocation of some money from police to social services. But many people will think that the phrase means “abolish the police.” Yes, the advocates have a rational explanation, but the old saying holds here: if you’re explaining, you’re losing.” 

If defunding police equates to reduced public safety in the minds of voters who may share sympathy and even empathy with the protestors, the catchphrase will cost candidates who embrace the slogan.

Many elected officials find themselves between a rock and a hard place on the issue of policing. The vocal protestors have made points and got supportive edicts from California’s elected officials, especially the state’s mayors. At the same time, mayors appear to be offering less support for police, which troubles or even angers supporters of police as essential to achieving a safe society. 

If mayors decide to remove money from police departments to dedicate to social services and risk the reduction of public safety, they face a potential backlash from voters. 

A solution promoted by the mayors of San Francisco and Los Angeles to cover shifting of police funding while finding new funding for social services is also based on the will of voters, which is clearly uncertain: raising taxes. 

Both San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti have endorsed the property tax increase on commercial property destined for the November ballot. Polls have not been friendly to the idea that taxes be raised during the current economic crisis. 

You get the sense the mayors are walking a tightrope, trying to satisfy protestors while reassuring concerned citizens about changing policing. The idea of managing the tightrope crossing with the ballast provided by new taxes is fraught with its own problems.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily.

Ban Police Union Money in Politics, or Ban ALL Public Union Money in Politics?

“Before we give someone a gun, uniform, badge and the power to put handcuffs on someone’s wrist, we need make sure they are the best and the brightest…police unions are making it impossible.”
– Chesa Boudin, San Francisco District Attorney, on The Appeal, June 5, 2020

It is hard to imagine a public figure whose ideology is more toxic to the future of California and America than Chesa Boudin. But politics can make for strange bedfellows.

Chesa Boudin epitomizes San Francisco’s failure as a city and, increasingly, California’s failures as a state. Boudin is part of a political movement that has created criminal friendly cities, where thieves and drug addicts cannot be arrested and prosecuted, where cash bail is about to be abolished, where citizens are slowly being denied the means to protect themselves.

The policy agenda promoted by politicians like Chesa Boudin has released tens of thousands of dangerous inmates from California’s jails and prisons. And if downgrading drug and property crimestrying to eliminate bail, and emptying the prisons didn’t do enough to make it nearly impossible for police to keep Californians safe, the California legislature passed AB 953 which requires police to report the race and gender of every person they interact with in order to monitor possible disparate impact.

Which brings us to the issue of the day; the alleged disproportionate targeting of black people by police in America. Like so many emotional issues that are shamelessly exploited by ideologues and opportunists, the facts don’t matter. But here are the facts:

There are more than 800,000 sworn police officers in America, authorized to make arrests and use deadly force. Over 50 million Americans have at least one encounter with a police officer per year, usually involving something minor such as a traffic stop. Police make over 10 million arrests each year. On average, just over 1,000 Americans each year are killed by police, but nearly all of them were armed. In confrontations with unarmed people over the past decade, only between 50 and 100 have been shot per year by police, about the same number as police who are killed in hostile encounters per year.

Over 50 million police encounters, less than 100 unarmed people killed. It is statistically impossible to root out every single incident of misconduct in a group that large. But whether police misconduct is epidemic or incredibly rare, are blacks disproportionately targeted? In a word: No.

It is true that the number of blacks killed by police is consistently disproportionate to their share of the U.S. population. Over the three year period from 2017 through 2019, blacks represented 27 percent of all people shot to death by police, yet they comprise 13 percent of the U.S. population. On the surface, this looks bad. But there is a lot more to this story.

In an analysis recently published in the Wall Street Journal, Manhattan Institute fellow and author Heather Mac Donald presents some inconvenient facts: Blacks are indeed twice as likely to be fatally shot by police than whites, but, “in 2018, the latest year for which such data have been published, African-Americans made up 53% of known homicide offenders in the U.S. and commit about 60% of robberies, though they are 13% of the population.”

When crime rates are taken into account, it turns out that blacks are not disproportionately killed by police and, in fact, the opposite is true.

In a recent study that even NPR reporters acknowledged was peer-reviewed and published by the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers concluded: “We find no evidence, at the national level, that officers show racial bias against Blacks in the decision to use deadly force,” and “we found no evidence that the race of a police officer related to the race of a citizen shot.”

Accountability is a Two-Way Street

None of this data relieves anyone concerned about law and order of the obligation to examine why mistakes are made, and why police abuse still occurs. Even if the facts indicate that mistakes and abuses happen less today than ever before, if there is a way to curb them further without compromising effective policing, we have to try. But Boudin, other leaders, the media, and the millions of protesters in America need to understand: The biggest problem is not racism. It’s bad apples. And these bad apples, all too often, and as Boudin acknowledges, are protected by powerful police unions.

Why do police unions protect bad cops? When they do this, they’re as bad as the teachers union, and that’s not inevitable. Teachers unions have very nearly destroyed public education. Apart from protecting bad apples, police unions have not destroyed the effectiveness of police departments. Politicians like Chesa Boudin did that.

If it weren’t for the socialist billionaires who back him, and the votes he bought with all that money, and the power he amassed as a result, Chesa Boudin would be an irrelevant laughingstock. Because Boudin wants accountability for police at the same time as he wants to make criminals and drug addicts unaccountable. And because Boudin wants to hold police unions accountable at the same time as he has little to say about unaccountable teachers unions.

If Chesa Boudin wants to promote a consistent and principled approach to law and order, then he is invited to find accountability in all areas where it is warranted. The idea that “systemic racism” exists in California in 2020 is the least likely explanation for racially disproportionate outcomes. Police brutality, while it still exists in rare cases, afflicts everyone regardless of color. If the statistical facts that prove this aren’t enough, consider the case of Kelly Thomas, a white man whose brutal 2011 murder by six very bad apples makes George Floyd’s death look like a picnic.

The true reasons for racially disproportionate outcomes in all areas of social and economic achievement are children growing up in broken homes, in communities where welfare has destroyed incentives to work hard and keep families intact, where the teachers union monopoly shuffles bad teachers to low income neighborhoods instead allowing them to be fired, and where criminals, no longer held accountable, have made life on the streets more dangerous than ever.

It would take courage for a man in Boudin’s position to tell these truths. Not only would someone like Chesa Boudin making these statements alert entire new constituencies to what to-date has only been something a “conservative” would say, but acknowledging this other, bigger half of the explanation for racially disproportionate outcomes might lend a shred of credibility to everything else he’s been trying to do. Or not. Boudin, and his ilk, are so far gone you have to wonder if their genuine, barely hidden agenda is simply to create anarchy.

With respect to police unions, Boudin has ventured one good idea. He is proposing that police unions be banned from contributing money and endorsements to races to elect District Attorneys. Boudin is on to something here, but for once, he doesn’t go far enough. What California needs is to ban any public sector union from contributing money or endorsements to influence any election, either for a candidate or a ballot measure.

Do that, Chesa Boudin, and you may find yourself with some strange bedfellows indeed.

This article originally appeared on the website California Globe.

State’s Ongoing Fight Over Pension Obligation Bonds

Earlier this year, this column raised the alarm over the resurgence in the use of “pension obligation bonds,” a risky financing method that fell out of favor during the 2008 recession but is now making a comeback.

Fortunately, there is more scrutiny on this form of debt financing than in years past, and taxpayers are starting to take a keen interest in whether POBs are in the best interests of their local governments.

Citizen awareness and improved oversight will be crucial.

To refresh citizens’ understanding of what this is all about, POBs are bonds issued to fund, in whole or in part, the unfunded portion of public pension liabilities by the creation of new debt. It is like paying your Visa bill with your Mastercard.

Advocates of this strategy rely on an assumption that the borrowed money from the sale of bonds, when invested with pension assets in higher-yielding assets, will achieve a rate of return that is greater than the interest rate owed on the borrowed money, which is paid back over the term of the bonds.

A policy reflected in the California Constitution since the 1800s is that government debt should be approved by the voters.  The reason for this is simple — today’s politicians should not be allowed to burden tomorrow’s taxpayers without the consent of those financially obligated for the repayment. Back in 2003, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association sued the state of California for its attempt to issue a statewide POB without voter approval. HJTA prevailed and the POB bond proposal was invalidated.

To read the entire column, please click here.

COVID-19 Reveals The Power Of Deregulation

One of the most effective policy responses to COVID-19 thus far has not been a new government program or infusion of federal funding. Rather, it’s been the deliberate effort by the Trump administration to pare back regulations impeding access to health care.

That work must continue after the pandemic passes.

The dangers posed by heavy-handed government regulation were clear from the first days of the coronavirus crisis. One of the chief reasons it took weeks to ramp up testing is that federal regulations prevented private laboratories from assisting in the effort.

But after a slow start, the administration went on a deregulatory kick. Much of that deregulation has been in telehealth.

Telehealth systems enable patients to consult a doctor remotely using digital technologies like video conferencing. They’re crucial to mitigating the spread of COVID-19 during the height of the pandemic because they allow patients to get medical attention without exposing themselves or others to the virus.

Recognizing the value of these technologies, the administration expanded access to telehealth services by waiving a number of rules. First, it ensured that telehealth services were covered for all Medicare beneficiaries. Previously, only rural patients had coverage for remote care—and only after they had failed to get care from an in-person provider.

The Department of Health and Human Services also agreed not to enforce penalties under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act for physicians who consult with patients through consumer apps such as Skype or FaceTime. Just as important, the administration waived licensing requirements so doctors could use telehealth systems to see out-of-state patients.

More recently, HHS rolled back the requirement that Medicare and Medicaid patients obtain a written request from a physician in order to be tested for COVID-19.

Each of these reforms eliminated rules that have never made much sense. At a time when video conferencing is now commonplace, there’s little reason to treat virtual consultations differently than face-to-face visits. Prohibitions on doctors practicing across state lines because of strict licensure regulations were nonsensical even before the days of telehealth.

But the administration didn’t just dismantle many of the regulatory barriers that reduce patients’ ability to access care. It has also streamlined the drug-development pipeline in order to accelerate the creation and distribution of potential COVID-19 therapies and vaccines.

For instance, the Food and Drug Administration recently eliminated some of the requirements governing distributors of prescription drugs so that medicines can reach their destinations more quickly and efficiently. The agency has also sped up the review process for clinical trial protocols for COVID-19 drugs, reviewing some protocols in as little as day.

Reforms like these have enabled drugmakers to respond to COVID-19 with unprecedented speed. Just a few months ago, nobody had heard of the disease. Today, dozens of clinical trials are underway for new treatments. A vaccine may be available later this year orearly next.

In light of this success, it’s encouraging that the president has instructed federal agencies to review the regulations rescinded during this emergency to determine which rules should be eliminated permanently.

In the meantime, however, the administration should continue to look for regulations that deserve to go. It can start by relaxing the licensing and medical residency requirements that keep qualified doctors educated and trained abroad from practicing here in the United States.

States can loosen scope of practice regulations that restrict highly qualified healthcare personnel like nurse practitioners and physician assistants from delivering routine care or writing prescriptions without the supervision of a doctor. States can also give pharmacists full authority to administer routine vaccines.

The medical education establishment can pitch in, too, by shortening the length of medical school.Relaxing restrictions like these could drastically reduce the doctor shortage that is expected to reach as high as 121,000 by 2032.

For decades, red tape has frustrated the efforts of healthcare providers to deliver timely, high-quality care—and of patients to access the care they need. The pandemic has shown just how useless so many of those regulations were. Continuing that deregulatory drive will yield a more efficient, more responsive, and less wasteful health system that produces better health outcomes for all Americans.

Sally C. Pipes is president, CEO, and the Thomas W. Smith fellow in healthcare policy at the Pacific Research Institute. Her latest book is False Premise, False Promise: The Disastrous Reality of Medicare for All, (Encounter 2020). Follow her on Twitter @sallypipes.

This article was originally published by the Pacific Research Institute.

Lack of Transparency in Our State Government

Former Mayor of Chicago and former Chief of Staff to Pres. Obama, Rahm Emanuel, once said “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” By exploiting the chaos presented by the coronavirus crisis, our state legislature is doubling down on that statement.

Legislators are pushing a flurry of wrongheaded housing bills that are targeting established single-family neighborhoods throughout every city and county in California as the new frontier for high density development. The state legislature has authored a series of housing bills that essentially amount to a declaration of war against local government. 

With this legislative session foreshortened by the state’s response to the coronavirus, the hearings on these bills are coming on fast and furious while offering minimal opportunity for the public to weigh in on them, understand what they really mean, and who the winners and losers would be if they become law.

One thing is clear: the sponsors behind this legislation are the real estate development, financial investment, and high-tech lobbies who have a firm grasp on our State Legislature. It’s also clear that many of these bills are the wrong solution to the wrong problem. We don’t have a market-rate housing crisis, we have a housing affordability crisis and these bills are doing too little to address the crux of this issue.

Nonetheless, with restrictions being enforced on public participation during these legislative hearings, the public is prevented from attending the sessions while being limited to making 30 second phone calls during committee hearings on these bills. In the case of the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on June 9, 2020, the staff reports analyzing the potential costs to the state of its new housing legislation weren’t available until two days before the hearing. How can the public, let alone the legislators themselves, begin to read and comprehend the purpose and cost consequences–both intended and unintended–of this legislation? So much for transparency!

Sacramento journalist Dan Walters recently wrote in Cal Matters magazine about the attempts of the state legislature to undo Proposition 54, an initiative written in part by former State Sen. Sam Blakeslee that was enacted by voters in 2016, that required more transparency in how the Legislature goes about its business. Democratic legislators hated Proposition 54, but the voters enacted it over their objection. 

Fast forward to 2020, the Assembly Constitutional Amendment 25 (ACA 25) has been introduced to gut the transparency provisions enacted by Prop 54. Between this push and Gavin Newsom’s executive order issued earlier this year to suspend the Brown Act, who knows what’s going on behind closed doors? Transparency is missing in action, replaced by a legislative process that is becoming utterly opaque.

What is it about some of our state legislators that they are so determined to pass ill-considered housing bills that are designed to force us to live the way they want us to live rather than the way we chose to live? It’s clear testimony that our state legislature has lost its way.

T Keith Gurnee is a former councilmember of San Luis Obispo and a member of the Board of Directors of Livable California, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the self-determination and the livability of California’s cities and counties.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily.