California Lawmakers Have Enabled Culture Of Sexual Harassment

CapitolThe issue of sexual harassment has jumped to the forefront of public discourse in a relatively short period of time, with revelations about alleged sexual misconduct ranging from the inappropriate to the illegal.

The accusations have flown from the studios of Hollywood to the halls of Congress, from film executive Harvey Weinstein to longtime television news personality Charlie Rose; from National Public Radio news chief Michael Oreskes to Senator Al Franken (D-MN); from Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) to Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore.

With each passing day, more stories are coming out, and the California State Capitol, while a relative side-show compared to some of the more newsworthy persons dominating national politics, has been turned on its head.

In mid-October, a bipartisan group of more than 140 women – lawmakers, lobbyists and consultants – signed a letter calling attention to pervasive sexual harassment in California politics. Since that time, two California state legislators – Senator Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) and Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima) — have been embroiled in scandal, with multiple women coming forward making scathing accusations about each.

In the case of the former, Mendoza has denied allegations. Senate President Kevin DeLeon (D-Los Angeles) recently suspended Mendoza’s chairmanship of the powerful State Senate Banking Committee, pending further investigation. With regards to Bocanegra, he has admitted wrongdoing. Facing increasing scrutiny, he has announced that he will be resigning from the legislature – albeit on an arbitrary date he picked in September of next year. Assembly Speaker Rendon (D-South Gate) has removed him from his leadership position, and his committee assignments.

I won’t take the time in this column to detail the specific allegations against both, but suffice it to say they paint an alarming picture of a culture in the State Capitol that has been permissive of such bad behavior, or worse. One can assume that this will only snowball in the coming weeks and months, as more revelations occur. (For example, DeLeon, it has been revealed, was roommates in Sacramento with Mendoza, moving out just days ago – which is significant in that accusations against Mendoza include inappropriate activities taking place in his residence).

The California legislature, however, has taken steps to make sure that the permissive culture of sexual harassment would thrive – embracing the idea that that legislators not only make the law, but are above the law.

For decades, the only way that someone who was harassed or abused could bring it to anyone’s attention would have been to go to legislative leadership – never mind the obvious conflict of interest there. What legislative remedies have been pursued by some have been bottled up in committees. A great example is legislation pursued for years in a row by Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Temecula) to protect whistleblowers who report unethical or inappropriate behavior. It has never made it to the Governor’s desk.  It should come as no surprise that laws were passed giving all other state government employees whistleblower protection, but the legislature was exempt.

Speaking of exemptions, the Los Angeles Times put in a request for details on any formal investigations of allegations of sexual abuse on the legislature. It received a brief summary indicating that in the last decade there have been 31 such investigations — 15 in the State Senate and 16 in the State Assembly – but the legislature has refused to provide any more detail, and is not obliged to provide any more detail.  That is because the California legislature exempted itself from the Public Records Act, which applies to the rest of state government.

There are some actions that the governor and legislature can take to try to regain some credibility here, and try to end Sacramento’s toxic culture. And while Democrats in the Capitol control all of the levers of state government – and are the only ones that can create laws in a partisan fashion – Republicans have the bully pulpit and can publicly call for Governor Jerry Brown to call a special legislative session to deal with this issue immediately.  In the special session, the legislature should send several bills to Brown for his signature, including:

  • A bill to establish that a law enforcement agency (perhaps the California Highway Patrol) has jurisdiction over investigations of allegations of sexual harassment in the Capitol. The idea is to put someone in charge of such investigations who is not beholden to legislators.
  • The Melendez whistleblower protection bill that has been shoved into a legislative drawer for years.
  • A bill to make sure that the legislature is subject to the California Public Records Act, like every other part of state government.

Finally, there should be a formal investigation into DeLeon’s friendship with his now-former roommate, Senator Mendoza. Perhaps DeLeon’s position should even be suspended pending the outcome.

The idea that DeLeon, as Chairman of the Rules Committee (made up of Democrats and Republicans who are his hand-picked choices), is going to clean up the Senate’s act lacks credulity.

Jon Fleischman is the Politics Editor for Breitbart California.  His columns appear on this page. You can follow him on Twitter here.

This article was originally published by Breitbart California

University of California scandal could lead to race to replace Jerry Brown

Janet NapolitanoUniversity of California Regents have bought UC President Janet Napolitano’s story about how her office came to interfere with an audit of its performance ordered by the state Legislature, with regents saying they were disappointed by the scandal but prepared to move on after reprimanding Napolitano.

But there could be more fallout on two fronts: in the Legislature and in the governor’s race, where the frontrunner, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, is an ex-officio UC regent.

That’s because Napolitano’s story seems so implausible. According to an independent report prepared at regents’ behest by former California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno and the Hueston Henningan law firm, after state Auditor Elaine Howle sent surveys to UC campuses in October 2016 asking for their assessment of UC’s Office of the President, Seth Grossman, Napolitano’s chief of staff, and Bernie Jones, her deputy chief of staff, put out the word that they needed to review the responses. This was done even though Howle had emphasized the responses were supposed to be confidential. Subsequently, three campuses – UC Santa Cruz, UC Irvine and UC San Diego – revised their responses to make them more favorable to Napolitano’s office.

But Napolitano told the Legislature in May, and Moreno’s investigators more recently, that while she approved the plan to have her office review the responses, she did so because she wanted to ensure the responses were correct – not because she wanted to protect her image. She also said campuses had requested help.

Moreno’s report did not suggest the UC president was lying. But it found no evidence that campuses sought help with their responses. And it noted that UC Santa Cruz Chancellor George Blumenthal said that he was chewed out by Napolitano for his campus sending in a response to Howle without running it by her staff. UC Santa Cruz’s response was the harshest of any campus, giving Napolitano’s office one “poor” and three “fair” ratings out of the 10 categories in the survey questions. After Blumenthal’s telephone conversation with what he described as a “furious” Napolitano, UC Santa Cruz changed the “poor” and “fair” ratings to good and upgraded three “good” ratings to “exceptional.”

Napolitano said she remembers her conversation with Blumenthal as being routine, not angry. But Blumenthal’s account is consistent with other findings in the Moreno report, such as Napolitano’s declaration in a text message that Howle was on a “witch hunt.”

The two aides cited in the Moreno report resigned a week before the report’s release and declined substantive comment on the allegations against them.

Lawmakers unlikely to be satisfied with handling of scandal

The Legislature, which passed a bill last session subsequently signed by Gov. Jerry Brown making it a crime for a state agency to interfere with a state audit, could consider follow-up legislation. There’s considerable residual anger overNapolitano’s May testimony to a joint legislative hearing in which she repeatedly denied personal wrongdoing of any kind. Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, R-Dublin, vice chair of the Higher Education Committee, cited that testimony last week in calling for Napolitano to be fired.

In the gubernatorial race, UC-related sparks seem just as likely to fly. While Newsom told the Los Angeles Times that he considered regents’ decision to reprimand Napolitano “insignificant” – suggesting he wanted stronger punishment – he joined the unanimous vote to retain her as UC president.

This is tough to square with Newsom’s reported comments about how he would deal with corruption and ethical issues in state government: “I will not be known for being timid about this or anything else. Gov. Brown says reform is overrated; I say it’s underrated.”

As for Howle’s part, she wants regents to take additional actions beyond reprimanding Napolitano, according to a letter she sent to regents and an internal report by her office that were obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Howle asked regents to “consider disciplining university employees who repeatedly interfered with a state audit, tried to hide their actions, misled investigators and withheld requested information until threatened with court action,” the Times reported.

At the regents’ Nov. 17 meeting in San Francisco, they began consideration of measures meant to “clarify and strengthen” how UC officials who report both to the regents and to Napolitano must deal with state audits.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Bay Area Takes Police-State Approach to Tobacco

 

Obscure the Declining Performance of California Public Schools

School union protestEducational bureaucrats complain that charter and private schools are “unaccountable.” But in reality, no institution in America is less accountable than unionized, government-run school systems. Virtually no one gets fired when they do a poor job, and when Johnny can’t read, it’s not because he wasn’t taught well, but rather because funding was insufficient, class sizes were too big, poverty was overwhelming — or Betsy DeVos was making everything worse. And when the public schools are shown not to be living up to their promises, the educrats move the goalposts to disguise their shortcomings.

The latest example of this pattern is unfolding right now. The California School Dashboard is a comprehensive rating tool to assess educational performance. Schools, districts, and various student subgroups get placed into five color-coded categories ranging from red (bottom performers) to blue (best performers) on how students fare on the state’s annual standardized test, along with other measures including graduation rates, chronic absenteeism, and college readiness. If a district places in the red on two or more of these metrics, the county offices of education are called in for assistance.

Alarm bells sounded when the 2017 standardized test results in California were announced. They revealed that about 50 percent of schoolchildren can’t read at grade level. The news was especially dismal for black schoolchildren — almost 70 percent failed to read at grade level. When all the data were crunched, the outcomes revealed that, because of the poor test results, many school districts were deep in the red zone. But instead of acknowledging those schools’ failure, the State Board of Education simply decided to move a bunch of schools out of the lowest category. The board brushed aside criticism, referring to the lowering of standards as “a technical matter,” and the change was approved unanimously.

This brazen ploy is the latest in a series of similar efforts by the Golden State education establishment. Just last month, we officially said goodbye to the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE), which the state legislature eliminated in 2015 because too many kids couldn’t pass it. The English-language component of the test addressed state content standards through tenth grade, and the math part of the exam covered state standards only as far as grades six and seven and Algebra I. Worse, the legislators chose to give diplomas retroactively, going back to 2006, to students who had passed their coursework but failed the test.

Some cities have used their own methods to lower standards. In 2015, the Los Angeles school board decided to roll back graduation requirements, allowing students to pass A-G courses (classes that are required for college entrance) with a “D” instead of a “C.” If that wasn’t enough, in Los Angeles and elsewhere, students who are destined not to graduate high school get to take “credit-recovery” classes. Some are effective, but many are devoid of meaningful content. Students often complete them in a few hours or over a weekend. Due to the courses, the graduation rate in L.A. zoomed from a projected 54 percent to 77 percent in 2016 within a few months. Referring to the higher graduation rates, L.A. School Superintendent Michelle King had the chutzpah to proclaim that she is proud “of the heroic efforts by our teachers, counselors, parents, administrators and classified staff who rally around our students every day.” King’s comments aside, is it any wonder that three quarters of California community college students and over 40 percent of California State university system students need remediation?

In San Francisco, only 19 percent of black students passed the state test in reading, yet the school board and union colluded to give teachers in the lowest performing school district in the state a 16 percent across the board pay increase. In a statement, San Francisco Superintendent of Schools Vincent Matthews said that the agreement was made as part of the district’s “ongoing commitment to attracting and retaining talented educators.

While San Francisco undoubtedly has some wonderful teachers, they do not deserve a raise en masse. We do not need credit-recovery classes. We should not have eliminated the CAHSEE. We don’t need the state board fiddling with the new dashboard because the results were poor. And as the Freedom Project’s Alex Newman points out, we also don’t need more “tax money, smaller class sizes, more LGBT sensitivity training, more interventions, more amphetamines, more dumbed-down ‘standards,’ or bigger government.”

What kids really need is basic reading instruction with a strong emphasis on phonics, which has served kids well for generations and would continue to do so, if we let it. But if we continue to stroll blissfully down Unaccountability Lane, adopting educational fads and eliminating standards, millions of young Americans will grow up to be functionally illiterate, with dismal future prospects. This is beyond shameful. School boards, administrators, and teachers must be held accountable for the failing systems they run.

Giving Thanks for Freedom

ThanksgivingToday most Americans will gather for a celebration that has become an American tradition that is very much worthy of extension.

Most of us experience more blessings than tribulation, especially in this country, and it is appropriate to give thanks for them (indeed, many traditions exhort us to give thanks for hard times as well), whether to God — as did the Pilgrims at Plimouth Plantation back in 1621 — or to whatever entity seems appropriate.

It’s interesting to remember, though, that however pleasant are the customs that have grown up around Thanksgiving, they bear little resemblance to what probably happened back in 1621.

Americans today typically gather considerable portions of their families together, eat turkey with all the trimmings, then, loaded with tryptophans, settle back to watch football or catch up on family news, and fall blissfully asleep. Some go for “gentle” Thanksgivings that don’t involve “murdering” turkeys. Some may go to church. Most spend at least a few moments thinking about the people and events for which they have reason to be thankful.

Food is important here, but the chief benefit is the gathering together.

Our modern customs were pioneered by one Sara Josepha Hale, editor of the popular Godey’s Lady’s Book in the 1850s. She filled her magazine with recipes and sometimes fanciful tales of the Pilgrims, and she convinced President Lincoln, in 1863, to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday.

The Massachusetts settlers almost certainly didn’t eat turkey or potatoes of any kind. They had cranberries but no sugar. Pumpkin pies were unlikely in the absence of butter and flour. But two accounts remain of a three-day gathering, attended by 52 settlers and some 90 Wampanoag Indians. It is unclear, but unlikely, if it became an annual celebration until many years later.

Beyond mere survival, there wasn’t much to be thankful for in 1621. Beyond the birds shot by a hunting party, food was hardly plentiful. And thereby hangs a cautionary tale about social organization.

When they first arrived in Massachusetts, the Pilgrims operated on a “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” basis. According to Gov. William Bradford’s later account, “all profits and benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing, or any other means” were placed in a common stock, from which each member of the colony could draw whatever he or she required. Not surprisingly, some colonists preferred to be layabouts.

After the scant harvest of 1622, wrote Bradford, “they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, to obtain a better crop.”

The remedy was to give each household a parcel of land and the freedom to raise as much as they wanted, keep what they needed, and trade it away as they saw fit.

Once that system was established, “any want or famine hath not been amongst them since this day.”

Whether you want to think on the shortcomings of a primitive form of socialism, give thanks for the blessings of your life or simply enjoy time with friends and family, we wish you and yours a cheerful and prosperous Thanksgiving.

Editor’s note: This editorial first appeared in the Orange County Register Nov. 23, 2006.

Cities reeling under the burden of growing pension debt

pension-2The California Public Employees’ Retirement System’s union defenders feign shock whenever pension reformers accuse it of “kicking the can down the road” in dealing with the state’s mounting pension debt. It’s like the scene from Casablanca, when Captain Louis Renault is absolutely shocked to find gambling going on in a gambling house.

CalPERS is never going to state the obvious: “We know these massive, underfunded pensions are not sustainable, but we’re going to do everything possible to push the problem into the future and blame everyone else for the problem.” But the pension fund’s board might as well have said as much after two actions it took at last week’s Sacramento meeting.

In one case, it decided to seek a legislative sponsor for a bill that would enable it to shift the blame to local agencies whenever such agencies decide to stop making their payments to the fund and retiree pensions are cut as a result. In the second case, at the urging of cities CalPERS decided to delay a vote on a more actuarially sound means of paying off pension debt – rather than risk a fifth rate hike to local governments, and risk a mutiny among hard-pressed local governments.

Both of these actions maintain the status quo and – you got it – kick the can down the road.

The first action involved the fate of two local agencies that have exited the pension fund because they couldn’t afford to keep making their payments. As California Policy Center previously reported, the tiny Sierra Nevada town of Loyalton in 2013 decided to exit the plan, but then was hammered with a $1.66 million termination fee that it couldn’t possibly afford. The town’s entire annual budget is $1 million and it couldn’t even make its $3,500 month payments to the fund.

Furthermore, the East San Gabriel Valley Human Resources Consortium, known as LA Works, shut its doors in 2014, but was likewise penalized by CalPERS for stopping its payments. The end result: Loyalton’s four retirees have their pension benefits sliced by 60 percent, and LA Works’ retirees lost as much as 63 percent of their pension checks.

In making an example of these small agencies, CalPERS revealed an ugly truth. The pension fund assumes a rate of return of 7 percent to 7.5 percent on its investments. The higher the assumed rate, of course, the less debt on its books. It’s in the union-controlled fund’s interests to assume the highest-possible rates and maintain the status quo – even if that means that taxpayers ultimately will have to pick up any slack.

When agencies decide to leave the fund, however, CalPERS puts them in a Terminated Agency Pool, where CalPERS assumes a rate of return of a measly 2 percent. Upon departure, these agencies can no longer expect future earnings or taxpayers to pick up the shortfall, so the 2 percent rate is the actual risk-free rate that CalPERS expects from its investments.

The legislation the fund seeks, facetiously referred to as the Anti-Loyalton Bill, would “require a terminating agency to notify past and present employees of its intention to terminate,” according to the language approved by the full CalPERS board last Wednesday. Bottom line: CalPERS wants local agencies to provide the bad news to employees and retirees so that they, rather than the massive pension fund, receive the brickbats.

The proposed bill is not a big deal per se, but it’s yet another example of how CalPERS is more interested in hiding – rather than dealing with – its pension debt. Basically, this is a public-relations strategy designed to discourage agencies from leaving the fund. It’s a way to tighten the golden handcuffs and punish agencies that want to exit the fund.

In reality, if 2 percent is the earning rate that CalPERS can safely expect on its long-term investments, then that should be the rate that it assumes for all of its investments. But lowering the assumed earnings to such a realistic number would cause mass panic, as municipalities would need to come up with dramatically increased payments. They already are struggling with their current payments.

Under that scenario, the state’s pension debt would be around $1.3 trillion, according to some estimates – and it would become implausible to push the problem down the road. Even with the current high assumption rates and even after a great year of earnings of 11.2 percent, CalPERS is only funded at a troubling 68 percent. (The California State Teachers’ Retirement System had even better returns last year, but is funded only at 64 percent.)

In its second major action last week, “CalPERS delayed action … on the chief actuary’s proposal to shorten the period for paying off new pension debt from 30 years to 20 years, a cost-cutting reform that would end the current policy not recommended by professional groups,” explained Ed Mendel, on his respected Calpensions blog.

Localities already have faced four major rate increases since 2012. CalPERS assesses the increases to make up for the unfunded liabilities, and recent studies suggest that local governments are slashing public services to come up with the cash. Had CalPERS decided to pay off new debt in a shorter time frame, it would have meant a fifth increase, according to Mendel. He quoted the League of California Cities’ official Dane Hutchings with these words of warning: “The well is running dry.”

It’s a mess. If CalPERS does the right thing, it exacerbates local governments’ current problems. But maintaining the status quo will make them worse down the road. As Mendel explained, under CalPERS’ current payment approach, “the debt continues to grow for the first nine years” with the payment not even covering the interest. “(T)he payments do not begin reducing the original debt until year 18, more than halfway through the period.”

In other words, I have a great 30-year plan for paying off your credit-card debt: You make minimum payments for the next 18 years and then worry about it then. Isn’t that the very definition of kicking the can down the road?

It’s hard to feel too sorry for these struggling cities. Do you remember when they warned about the impending disaster if the state Legislature passed a 1999 bill, promoted by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, that would retroactively raised pensions across the state by 50 percent? Do you remember when city managers angrily resisted union-backed efforts to raise pensions at their city councils? Neither do I.

Unfortunately, their efforts to avoid another rate hike only helps CalPERS do what it likes to do most – remind us that all is well and that the stock market will pay for all the pension promises. It might, but then again it might not. If the market slows, there will be a lot of California officials shocked to find a dead end up ahead.

Steven Greenhut is contributing editor for the California Policy Center. He is Western region director for the R Street Institute. Write to him at sgreenhut@rstreet.org.

This article was originally published by the California Policy Center

San Francisco Judge Blocks Trump’s Sanctuary City Order

Sanctuary cityU.S. District Court Judge William Orrick III issued a permanent injunction Monday against President Donald Trump’s executive order directing that federal funds be withheld from “sanctuary city” jurisdictions.

The original order, issued January 25, aimed to “Ensure that jurisdictions that fail to comply with applicable Federal law do not receive Federal funds, except as mandated by law.”

San Francisco and Santa Clara County challenged the order, which Orrick blockedtemporarily in April on the grounds that it was too broad and infringed on the powers of the legislative branch to control federal spending.

In response, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum clarifying the Department of Justice’s interpretation of the order, stipulating that the federal funds to be withheld would be limited to discretionary grants from the department to local law enforcement authorities.

But the judge said in July that memorandum was not enough to stop other agencies from interpreting the executive order in a broader sense, and that the memorandum could easily be withdrawn.

In his ruling on Monday, Judge Orrick said:

[E]ven if the President had spending powers, the Executive Order would clearly exceed them and violate the Tenth Amendment’s prohibition against commandeering local jurisdictions. It is so vague and standardless that it violates the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause and is void for vagueness. And because it seeks to deprive local jurisdictions of congressionally allocated funds without any notice or opportunity to be heard, it violates the procedural due process requirements of the Fifth Amendment.

The Trump administration has already appealed Orrick’s original, temporary order to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Congress could also enforce President Trump’s policy simply by enacting legislation to deny federal funding to sanctuary cities — assuming Orrick’s 10th Amendment concerns about commandeering are overcome.

Proponents of sanctuary cities celebrated Monday’s ruling, while opponents remain incredulous that any part of the United States could defy federal immigration law under the protection of the courts.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice told Breitbart News: “The District Court exceeded its authority today when it barred the President from instructing his cabinet members to enforce existing law. The Justice Department will vindicate the President’s lawful authority to direct the executive branch.”

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

Ian Mason contributed to this story.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

Nothing that comes from government is free

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a Walt Disney classic from 1966 starring Dick Van Dyke as a quirky inventor who turns a broken-down Grand Prix car into a magical flying machine. Along with his two young children, they soar off to a fantasy land with the mission of rescuing the beloved grandfather being held in a strange make-believe city.

There’s a particularly creepy scene in the movie where the diabolical villain lures the two kids from their hiding place. He walks down the street yelling out, “Ice cream. Get some ice cream! Today, it’s all free!” The children can’t resist and they emerge from a building to get into a carriage where they are promised the sweets. Once inside, the curtains fall from the side of the carriage to reveal they have walked into a metal cage.

jerry-brownI was reminded of this scene when Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 19, which mandates freshmen at California’s community colleges be given free tuition. The legislation, authored by Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, would expand the current fee waiver for low-income students. The new grant would waive the first year of fees for all first-time, full-time students attending a California community college, regardless of need.

The notion that citizens are entitled to “free stuff” from government is an unhealthy trend in America. While there is certainly a public benefit to education — which is why kindergarten through high school is free in the United States — students who move on to college should be expected to have some “skin in the game.”

At the national level, the push for tuition-free college is a potent movement. Groups such as College Promise Campaign celebrated the passage of AB19 as step toward the goal of free college education nationwide. Not surprisingly, openly socialist candidates like Sen. Bernie Sanders are big proponents.

Nobel economist Milton Friedman was fond of saying that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Indeed, he published a series of his essays in a book of the same title. His point was simple: Nothing is free; someone — either voluntarily or under compulsion — has to pay. And it’s not just limited government advocates who recognize this brutal truth. As it relates to AB19, officials in the Los Rios Community College District in the greater Sacramento area are trying to figure out how they are going to pay for the tuition break. Perhaps this question should have been asked when the legislation was being considered.

Another dose of economic reality struck California’s far-left leaning Legislature this past session as progressive activists pushed hard for a state-run single-payer health care system. The price tag, $400 billion, or three times the current state budget, was so daunting that even the progressive Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon had to pull the plug after it passed in the state Senate. The entire discussion of single-payer in California proves the maxim that “if you think health care is expensive now, wait until it’s free.”

Whether it is higher education, health care, cellphones, food or transportation, knowledgeable citizens ought to be wary of free stuff from government. Yes, we need basic public services paid for through taxes as well as a basic safety net for our most needy who cannot care for themselves. But increasing reliance on Big Brother government comes with a cost — lack of choice and a loss of freedom.

Free stuff from government only feeds higher expectations and a pervasive notion of entitlement. And the reverse, that which is earned through effort and innovation, leads to more fulfilling lives and self-empowerment.

Citizens, especially the young, ought to beware: A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

This article was originally published by the L.A. Daily News

Tax cuts, Alabama election: Jim Lacy comments on Australian Broadcasting’s “Weekend Breakfast”

California Political Review publisher Jim Lacy sums up this week’s national political news on tax cuts and the Alabama Senate election for Australian TV’s Sunday show, “Weekend Breakfast.”

CA electricity costs much more than other states

Photo courtesy of lydiashiningbrightly, flickr

California’s rush to impose harsh government mandates cutting carbon dioxide emissions in the generation of electricity is raising the electricity bills of families and businesses across the state. Poor families are suffering the most.

In sharp contrast, Texas is successfully taking a free-market approach that is increasing the use of clean renewable energy and lowering electricity bills in the state.

The tale of two states offers a lesson for the nation.

The far-left Democrats who control state government in California have doubled down on their extremist campaign to cut carbon dioxide emissions – regardless of the cost and the pain they inflict on Californians, who are already struggling to pay some of the highest electricity bills in the nation.

California’s Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown said in September: “De-carbonizing the economy when the economy depends so totally on carbon is not child’s play. It’s quite daunting.”

“Daunting” is an understatement. After decades of severe state mandates and skyrocketing subsidies for renewable energy, Brown boasted that California gets about 30 percent of its energy from renewable sources – with a goal of 50 percent in seven years.

That may sound impressive, but Brown’s numbers referred only to electricity generation. He didn’t count transportation – the cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, trains and planes that carry millions of Californians every day. Transportation accounts for about 39 percent of the Golden State’s energy consumption – and is almost all powered by carbon-based gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

In 2004, at the dawn of California’s accelerated push into “de-carbonizing,” 10 percent of the state’s power came from approved renewable sources, with the total rising to 25 percent when electricity from large hydroelectric dams was included.

By 2016, California’s electric grid derived 25 percent of its power from renewable energy sources, with another 10 percent coming from large hydroelectric dams. While the dams also generate renewable electricity, they are loathed by environmentalists, so they don’t count towards California’s non-carbon energy goals.

Pushing California’s electric portfolio from 25 percent renewables, including hydroelectric dams above 50 megawatts, to 35 percent over a dozen years is a direct consequence of several laws and regulations intended to increase mostly wind and solar power generation. …

Click here to read the full article from Fox News