How Dirty Are California’s ‘Green’ Policies?

Of all 50 states, it would be difficult to match California’s posturing as a “green” state with the nation’s most stringent environmental policies. Burdensome laws and regulations are imposed by elected officials and bureaucrats who try to outdo each other by burnishing their environmental bona fides. But how much of this posturing is really posing? Worse yet, how many of these policies actually damage the environment?

The pursuit of effective environmental policies requires clear thinking and critical analysis that transcend sound bites and superficial conclusions. Regrettably, that doesn’t happen often in California and here are the most glaring examples.

First on the list is California’s High-Speed Rail Project. This project was justified almost entirely on environmental grounds. A carbon-free rail project (false) that could travel from L.A. to San Francisco in about two hours (false) and would replace thousands of cars on the road (false) sounds great, but sober international transportation experts now doubt the project will ever be completed.

In the meantime, the massive amount of greenhouse gas emissions associated with construction and the destruction of valuable farmland in the Central Valley exposes HSR for the truly environmentally damaging effort that it is.

Second, for some strange reason, California does not count hydroelectric power as a “green” energy source. This makes no sense whatsoever and deters the development of additional projects that are reliable (not dependent on sun or wind) sources of carbon-free energy.

Third, in California, it is accepted as gospel that urban transit is better for the environment than individual automobiles. Whether that is true depends on innumerable factors that make broad pronouncements suspect. Robert Poole of the Reason Foundation is an expert in all matters involving surface transportation and has this to say about transit today: “But what I want to question is the premise that shifting huge sums to mass transit and passenger rail would make America greener. There’s growing evidence that it would not. For example, cars are presumed to be more polluting (both conventional emissions and CO2) than mass transit—but that is no longer so.”

Click here to read the entire article at Whittier Daily News

Jan. 6 Committee Subpoenas Trump Allies Linked to D.C. ‘War Room’

The Jan. 6 Committee is homing in on the top actors linked to Donald Trump’s last-ditch attempt to overturn the 2020 election, newly subpoenaing campaign employees and allies linked to the infamous “war room” that was used to strategize how to reverse the election results.

The committee is demanding testimony from half a dozen denizens of Trump World, including people who met with Trump personally as he tried to deny the election results. On Monday, they subpoenaed John EastmanMichael Flynn and former New York Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik; as well as campaign staffers Jason MillerBill Stepien and Angela McCallum.

Investigators are commanding the six witnesses to provide documents by Nov. 23 — two days before Thanksgiving — and appear for testimony between Nov. 30 and Dec. 13, according to letters accompanying the subpoenas.

“The Select Committee needs to know every detail about their efforts to overturn the election, including who they were talking to in the White House and in Congress, what connections they had with rallies that escalated into a riot, and who paid for it all,” committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said in a statement.

The panel is already locked in a legal fight with Trump to obtain reams of White House records that might shed light on his actions leading up to Jan. 6. The panel has also subpoenaed top Trump aides like former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and longtime adviser Dan Scavino, while another round of subpoenas targeted the organizers of pro-Trump rallies that preceded the attack on the Capitol.

The latest batch targetsa mix of people who worked on Trump’s campaign and others who toiled alongside it. Eastman, an attorney who helped Trump push then-Vice President Mike Pence to resist certification of the Electoral College vote, has long been in the committee’s sights. He and Kerik both appeared at a so-called “command center” for allies of Trump outside of his administration, based at the Willard Hotel in downtown Washington in the days before the attack, as The Washington Post has reported. People at the hotel strategized to overturn the election results, planning to push state lawmakers and the vice president, according to the paper.

Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, huddled with Trump in the Oval Office in the days before Jan. 6 as Trump tried to overturn his defeat. Trump had just weeks earlier pardoned Flynn on charges that he lied to the FBI. Flynn — who had publicly called for the military to intervene and seize voting machines in the months after the election — had spent years resisting congressional efforts to compel his testimony in other Trump-related matters.

Flynn gave a speech, laden with false claims of fraud, to Trump supporters in Washington the day before the attack on the Capitol, as CNN has detailed.

Click here to read full article on politico.com

Los Angeles Approves New Proof-of-Vaccine Law To Enter Indoor Businesses

‘We’re going to see an even worse employee shortage in the restaurant industry this month because of this ordinance’

A new COVID-19 proof-of-vaccination law in Los Angeles that requires those ages 12 and up to be fully vaccinated or have a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter most indoor businesses and public areas went into effect on Monday.

The new ordinance had a remarkably quick turnaround time from draft to law. Originally proposed in late September, a final vote on the ordinance came only weeks later, with the Los Angeles City Council voting 11-2 to put the new ordinance into effect. According to the ordinance, full proof of vaccination is now needed to enter most indoor places of business including restaurants, bars, movie theaters, arenas, convention centers, gyms, salons, and other public areas.

An exemption for medical or religious grounds will be accepted, but only with a valid negative COVID-19 test taken within the last 72 hours. The non-vaccinated will also be allowed to briefly enter to use the restroom or pick up orders inside while at the establishment, but can only do so while masked. The new mandate also affects outdoor events with those larger than 5,000 people requiring either proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test, making it more restrictive than all other city, county, and state vaccination laws currently in effect.

However, Los Angeles city officials have said that enforcement of the law will not be coming until later this month on the 29th to allow businesses time to get used to checking for proof and give employees ample time on working out systems of checking and verification. After the 29th, the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety will issue fines and punishments to those in violation. While the 1st infraction will only warrant a warning, the 2nd infraction will bring a fine of $1,000, with a 3rd infraction costing $2,000. All others afterwards will amount to $5,000 each time. All fines and warnings will be given to the establishment, not the individual for breaking the mandate.

City officials said that the new mandate will encourage more residents to get vaccinated, to help make businesses safer, and to protect those that cannot get the vaccine, such as younger children and those with autoimmune conditions.

“Vaccinating more Angelenos is our only way out of this pandemic, and we must do everything in our power to keep pushing those numbers up,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti last week while in Scotland for the United Nations climate change conference.

City Council President Nury Martinez also laid out the reasoning behind the ordinance on Monday, noting that “The intention of this isn’t to penalize businesses. Our businesses can’t afford another shutdown. It’s to limit the transmission of the virus and save lives.”

However, local business groups and others have said that the ordinance will only prove to be confusing to many and that requiring a vaccination proof check will only add to the additional burdens of staff members, who may now also may face increased harassment by customers over it.

“There’s a tremendous lack of clarity,” said Los Angeles County Business Federation policy manager Sarah Wiltfong, in a statement on Monday. “Most retail shops are exempt, but shopping malls and shopping centers are included, which of course includes retail shops. This puts employees in a potential position of conflict, when they’re not necessarily trained to handle situations like that.”

Many now under the new ordinance are especially worried about the increased harassment.

“We’ve had arguments, fights, yelling, you name it over masks alone,” explained Los Angeles waiter Josh Doerr, who has been part of a social media campaign to alert the public about some customers’ negative reaction to the masking laws. “And with masks, you don’t know who has been vaccinated or not. Vaccination proof is much more personal, and we’ve seen a lot more harassment come from it in places like San Francisco which already have some of these types of laws around. And right now businesses are desperate for employees.”

“With masks, a lot of us have either left mid-shift because of a belligerent customer or know those who have in the last several months since the reopenings began in earnest. Turnover is now only going to be worse. You’d wish that people either go or don’t, but a lot of people either don’t know or hope to be made an exception or are doing it just to challenge the system. And guess who gets the bunt of it? Us.”

“The actors and stand up comics and writers among us have developed a thick skin already, but even we have our limits. We’re going to see an even worse employee shortage in the restaurant industry this month because of this ordinance. It will not be great to say the least.”

Enforcement of the new ordinance is expected to begin at the end of November.

Click here to read the full article at the California Globe

$1.4 Million in Bogus Workers’ Comp Insurance Premiums Collected by Unlicensed OC Agent, Prosecutors Say

Workers’ Compensation form with pen and glasses

A former Costa Mesa resident, who was arrested in October on suspicion of collecting over $1.4 million from companies paying for bogus workers’ compensation insurance coverage, made her first court appearance in Orange County last week to face multiple felonies.

Karyl Lynn Reed, 57, was taken into custody in Seabrook, Texas and then brought before a judge in Santa Ana during an arraignment hearing on Oct. 27, California Department of Insurance officials said in a news release. She was accused of multiple felony counts of grand theft, embezzlement and forgery, according to court records.

Reed worked as an unlicensed insurance agent and ran two companies called Envoy Business Partners and Allenn Specialty Group, CDI officials said. Prosecutors accuse her of using those companies to produce fraudulent certificates of insurance to fool her victims and collect premiums for non-existent coverage from them.

Click here to read full article on ocregister.com

Here Are the Arguments That Persuaded the 5th Circuit To Block OSHA’s Vaccine Mandate for Private Employers

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit yesterday stayed the Biden administration’s brand-new COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private employers, which took effect on Friday, when it was published in the Federal Register. The appeals court said the arguments made by the petitioners—a Louisiana supermarket chain and six employees of a Texas company that makes kitchen ventilation systems—”give cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the Mandate.”

The vaccine rule, which was announced in early September but was not unveiled until last Thursday, gives businesses with 100 or more employees two options: They can adopt a “mandatory vaccination policy” with limited exceptions, or they can require unvaccinated employees to wear face masks and undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. The White House described the mandate as part of a broader effort to boost the nationwide vaccination rate. The aim, it said, is to “reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans by using regulatory powers and other actions to substantially increase the number of Americans covered by vaccination requirements.”

But the federal government has no general authority to protect public health, control communicable diseases, or require vaccination, all of which are primarily state responsibilities. The administration therefore presented the vaccine mandate as an “emergency temporary standard” (ETS) issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is charged specifically with protecting employees from workplace hazards. As the 5th Circuit indicated, that legal strategy leaves the mandate open to challenge on both statutory and constitutional grounds.

The plaintiffs in BST Holdings v. OSHA, who are represented by the Chicago-based Liberty Justice Center and Louisiana’s Pelican Institute for Public Policy, argue that the ETS exceeds the agency’s authority under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Even if it didn’t, they say, empowering OSHA to issue such a sweeping order would exceed the federal government’s power to regulate interstate commerce and violate the nondelegation doctrine, which constrains lawmaking by executive agencies.

Click here to read the full article at Reason.com

California Needs Details on Hydrocarbon-Free Future

Well, that was awkward.

Gov. Gavin Newsom stalled for weeks on attending last week’s global conference on climate change in Glasgow, then announced at the last moment that he would, only to just as suddenly announce that he wouldn’t “due to family circumstances” which were never explained.

Instead, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis led a couple of dozen administration officials and legislators to the conference, and they were largely confined to the sidelines.

Newsom’s last-minute decisions stymied California reporters who had planned to cover his performance on the international stage, because they came too late to apply for press credentials.

Journalists could only monitor from afar, which rendered California’s tertiary participation to almost a non-event, from a news standpoint.

Kounalakis told CalMatters reporter Emily Hoeven, who had planned to accompany Newsom to Glasgow: “The overall message is the strength of California’s subnational leadership and the power of our innovation economy to help the world scale up on climate solutions.”

Kounalakis took that message to one of the panel discussions in which she participated, saying that “California has been the tail that has wagged the dog on environmental protection.” She cited Newsom’s order to ban the sale of gasoline-powered cars by 2035, contending that “We are the largest consumer market in the United States, and this standard is most certainly already shaping the future.”

Having the lieutenant governor travel all that way, by hydrocarbon-powered transport at no small expense, to merely echo what Newsom has been saying for the past three years was pretty lame.

That said, it’s high time that Newsom put some meat on the bones of his sweeping promises that California will lead humankind into a brave new hydrocarbon-free future.

If California is to ban sales of gasoline-powered cars in the next 14 years, how will it be done? While California leads the nation in the sale of battery-powered vehicles, they still are only a tiny percentage of overall auto purchases.

Will California have an adequate infrastructure of charging stations? Will it even have enough electrical power available for charging, given that it sometimes cannot meet current demand during hot summer days?

Simultaneously, Newsom wants to eliminate all power generation from natural gas and other hydrocarbon sources, so what’s the plan for that conversion? Can we develop enough solar and wind power to meet all demands for juice?

What will we do when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow? We would need immense banks of batteries or other storage facilities to take up the slack. Will there be enough lithium to construct those batteries without depending on other nations?

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Newsom also wants to stop oil and gas production in the state by 2045? Where are the details and how will the impacts on the petroleum industry’s thousands of workers — in the fields, in the refineries and in the gas stations — be mitigated?

If California is to be hydrocarbon-free in just a few decades, will that mean banning diesel-powered ships from California’s ports and jet planes from the state’s airports? Will we even have airports anymore?

If we can no longer buy gasoline-powered lawnmowers and other tools, how will we do the work they now perform? Will homes, hospitals, schools and other vital buildings be left without backup power from standby generators when the grid goes down? Will firefighters no longer have chain saws and bulldozers to battle wildfires?

These are serious questions and issuing sweeping decrees without telling us how hydrocarbons will be eliminated and what the effects will be on our lives is political malpractice.

This article originally appeared on CalMatters.org

The High Cost Of Driving In California Is No Accident

How about some gas facts?

In late October, the highest price for gasoline in the country was a “mind-numbing $7.59 a gallon” for regular, $8.50 for premium in Gorda, on California’s central coast.

The average prices for regular, mid-grade, and premium are highest in California, $4.60, $4.78, and $4.90 a gallon, respectively, according to AAA. Prices are rising nationwide, but those numbers are still far in excess of the U.S. average of $3.40 a gallon.

The average gasoline price in Los Angeles had risen for 18 straight days through Oct. 29.

Late October was also when gasoline prices in San Francisco reached an all-time high, passing “the previous record of $4.743 per gallon, set over 3,300 days ago in 2012,” says Gas Buddy.

California shows up as an outlier far out of sync with the rest of the nation in the Gas Buddy price heat map.

Two days before Halloween, “parts of California,” most of them in the northern half, “recorded their highest average gas prices ever,” KTLA reported.

None of this is due to bad luck or unhappy coincidences. Nor can “profiteers” or speculators be blamed for the surge. The high prices are by design. The factors driving prices them are the products of deliberate policymaking:

  • California has the highest motor fuel taxes in the country – 67 cents a gallon, says the Tax Foundation, using American Petroleum Institute data. Second highest are in Illinois, 60 cents a gallon. The national median is about 30 cents a gallon.
  • Due to “big-government energy policies,” California drivers pay a 37% premium for gasoline compared to the national average. Backing off these mandates would have saved drivers $9.6 billion in 2020 over 2019.
  • Carbon cap-and-trade policy adds more than 14 cents a gallon to the cost of gasoline in California.
  • The state’s low carbon fuel standard increases prices 22 to 24 cents per gallon.
  • As requirements of cap-and-trade and the low carbon fuel standard become more demanding, their costs will continue to add up, reaching a range from 89 cents to $2.10 a gallon.

Let’s end with a quiz. Who said: “Somehow, we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe”?

No, it wasn’t a California official. It was Steven Chu, a Berkeley-trained, Nobel-winning physicist who taught at Stanford, and was serving as the Obama White House’s secretary of energy when he made the statement. The words just happen to sound a lot like those a Sacramento lawmaker would string together.

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.

We Obtained Never-Before-Seen Data on How Chesa Boudin is Prosecuting Cases. Here’s What It Shows

When Chesa Boudin ran for San Francisco District Attorney in 2019, he promised to approach crime differently than his predecessors, in part by no longer prosecuting lower-level offenses like recreational drug use. He also pledged to take more rape cases to trial, even if that meant he would lose those cases more frequently.

Less than two years after taking office, Boudin faces a likely recall election after critics of his administration garnered more than 83,000 signatures from residents who believe he has made the city less safe. To explore that claim, the Chronicle conducted a comprehensive review of how often his office decides to prosecute arrested individuals and how often it secures convictions in selected types of crime.

Boudin’s overall charging rate is 48%, slightly lower than predecessor George Gascón’s 54% in his last two years and on par with Gascón’s charging rates in 2016 and 2017. But overall charging rates can be misleading because the types of cases the D.A. receives from police can change significantly from year to year, especially during abnormal periods such as the current global pandemic.

A review of charging rates for specific crime types, which allows a more accurate assessment of what Boudin’s administration has done differently, shows that charging rates have increased for rape and drug cases under his watch, while they have decreased for theft and other lower-level offenses.

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

Do Progressives Support Gentrification?

Support is growing for the idea that parents can help their families climb the economic ladder by building generational wealth through property ownership. Surprisingly, this support has even been spotted in the opinion pages of the Los Angeles Times.

It’s surprising because the Times has previously taken a highly negative view of families being able to pass along intergenerational wealth in the form of real property. In a lengthy 2018 article about the effect of a voter-approved measure that allowed parents to transfer property to their kids without reassessment and a tax increase, Times reporter Liam Dillon focused almost exclusively on how the measure had benefited some very wealthy families. In particular, he objected to actors Jeff Bridges and Beau Bridges renting the Malibu home they inherited from their father, actor Lloyd Bridges.

The article complained that “The inheritance tax break . . . has allowed hundreds of thousands – including celebrities, politicians and out-of-state professionals and some of California’s most prominent families – to avoid paying higher taxes.” The article paid scant attention to the vast majority of property owners, ordinary people who inherited the homes their parents worked for 30 years to pay off.

The L.A. Times editorial board called for the elimination of the parent-child transfer protection, asserting that “there is no compelling public purpose or societal good in passing tax breaks through generations.”

Given its hostility to the constitutional protections that helped to preserve intergenerational wealth, we were surprised that the L.A. Times recently ran an op-ed piece with a very different view from their own columnist, Erika D. Smith. She wrote, “Now, all of a sudden, Black people who grew up poor or working class and managed to buy a modest home in the ’60s and ’70s — and, in some cases, pay it off — are finding that they own property that’s extremely valuable. In many cases, it’s a first for their families, this prospect of passing along real wealth to the next generation. After all, it’s one thing to inherit a house worth $350,000 that needs $100,000 worth of work. It’s quite another to inherit the same house, but it’s now valued at $1 million. There are only a few cities in the country where that’s even possible for Black people.”

Unfortunately, the children inheriting those million-dollar homes will receive a new tax bill along with the sympathy cards. The Times got its wish last November when Proposition 19 was narrowly approved, following an ad campaign that sold it as helping wildfire victims, disabled people and seniors. Many voters didn’t realize that Prop. 19 also repealed the parent-child transfer exclusion from reassessment that had been in the state constitution since 1986. Now, with only a few exceptions, property is reassessed to current market value when inherited.

That’s why the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has put forward a ballot initiative, the Repeal the Death Tax Act, that would once again allow parents to transfer a home, and a limited amount of other property, to their children without triggering property tax reassessments.

Click here to read the entire article at the presstelegram.com

Child Vaccinations Begin in California with Toys and Gifts

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Scavenger hunts and blow-up animals greeted children at some of California’s vaccination sites Wednesday as children aged 5 to 11 got their first COVID-19 shots a day after the federal government approved kid-size doses of the vaccinations.

One enthusiastic 11-year-old summed up his experience in a word: “Amazing!” said 6th grader Raghab Vist. “I’ve been waiting a really long time to get vaccinated.”

Vist and his father, Hemant, who went to a vaccine clinic in San Jose, spoke of all the things they looked forward to doing again — eating in a restaurant, taking a train and traveling to family favorites like Disneyland. “It’s a very important milestone for us,” his father said.

As part of an ambitious plan to offer coronavirus vaccinations to California’s 3.5 million children in that age group, the state intends to offer the vaccines at locations including school clinics, pharmacies, pediatrician offices and county sites, many of which will launch in the coming days. Health officials said they are expecting 1.2 million initial doses of the pediatric vaccine.

Santa Clara County, the home of Silicon Valley where San Jose is located, starting doling out shots early Wednesday, and appointments quickly booked up. The county expects to receive about 55,000 doses this week and will open additional clinics at 80 school sites and send out mobile vaccine teams to low-income neighborhoods.

“We know that a lot of parents are anxious to get their children vaccinated with the holidays coming up,” said Dr. Jennifer Tong, who oversees the county’s mass vaccination program. “We received our shipment of vaccine yesterday, and we didn’t have any good reason to sit on it. So we said, let’s get this show on the road.”

Many of Santa Clara’s county sites were decorated with kid-friendly motifs like animals and included games like scavenger hunts, while others handed out coloring books, prizes and stickers to newly vaccinated young people.

Click here to read the full article at ap.com