FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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Richard Rider

Do California smokers REALLY cost us $18 billion a year? I’m skeptical. Here’s why.

It’s always puzzled me how these financial figures (see KPBS story below) are arrived at — inferring that we’d SAVE that amount if only people didn’t smoke. If these people had not died from smoking-related illnesses, would they have lived forever? Or perhaps simply one night died in their sleep without prior illness or treatment?

Yes, they likely would have lived longer if they didn’t smoke, but from a COST standpoint, where’s the savings? Indeed, assuming they were covered by pensions and/or social security, would not they have cost society quite a lot more if they lived 5-10 years longer? Perhaps many of these folks would have ended up with Alzheimer’s disease, with the care (and pain) such a disease causes?

And then there’s the correlation between smoking and diseases. For instance, clearly smoking increases one’s chances of heart disease, but do we count VERY smoker’s death from heart disease as death from smoking? Is that logical? Or do we count only the EXTRA deaths from smoking-related heart disease (as good science would dictate — something that can be calculated using actuarial… Read More

Democrats test Californians’ tolerance for new taxes and fees

With its moderate climate, rich natural resources, and expansive coastline, the Golden State has its clear advantages. Yet elected state government leaders seem eager to see just how much Californians are willing to pay for these amenities.

Whether it be higher taxes and fees, or increased nanny-state policies, many Californians are too willing to write these off as simply the price you pay to live in such a beautiful locale, giving little to no thought to why everything from housing and transportation to food and services cost more than in most other states.

Thanks to policies pushed by the overwhelming Democrat majorities in both houses of the legislature, Californians will soon experience even more burdensome costs and rules in their everyday lives.

For example, Californians should prepare for an immediate 15 cent per gallon increase in the price of gasoline, with that number likely to rise much higher. Beginning January 1, gasoline and diesel fuel are scheduled to be regulated under our (and still the nation’s only) ‘cap-and-trade’ system. This scheme is part of the so-called ‘Global Warming Solutions Act,’ a law passed eight years ago to… Read More

Matthew J. Cunningham

Jose F. Moreno: San Francisco’s Candidate For Anaheim City Council

Judging by the campaign reports, some very rich left-wingers in San Francisco feel very strongly about the importance of electing Jose F. Moreno to the Anaheim City Council, 600 miles away. Moreno is a left-wing professor of Chiacno Studies at Long Beach State, and is running to take out one of two incumbent Republican members of the Anaheim City Council. Moreno was also the lead plaintiff on the ACLU lawsuit that sought to force Anaheim to impose by-district elections without a vote of the people. As part of the settlement with the city, the matter has been placed on the November ballot.

PowerPAC.org Voter Fund, a left-wing political committee based in San Francisco, has so far spent almost $54,000 in independent expenditures for Moreno’s council candidacy.

A good chunk of that money comes from wealthy liberal heiress Susan Sandler of San Francisco, whose parents founded Golden West Savings. Sandler gave $65,000 to PowerPAC.org Voter Fund in May of this year. $45,000 of that was then donated to the Yes on Measure L (by-district council elections) campaign. Election wins for Moreno and Measure L are top priorities for… Read More

Katy Grimes

Sacramento Arena Deal About Power and Politics

This is Part ll; Part lSacramento Arena Deal Ain’t Over ’til It’s Over

Sacramento has spent 13 years trying to build a publicly funded sports arena, with Mayor Kevin Johnson and Sacramento Sen. Darrell Steinberg involved every step of the way. Called arich-people’s playpen,local citizens will be forced to pay an hefty price for a new arena for the Kings, in order to keep them from leaving, of which the Sacramento City Council voted 7-2, to pay two-thirds of the cost.

The arena has been pushed Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA star. But many say he acts as he was elected mayor of the Sacramento Kings.

Lawsuits galore

While the other lawsuits against the city hit bumps in the road over the arena scheme, a taxpayers’ case against the city will go forward.

The reason this story is front and center in Sacramento, is because Johnson has Measure L on the November ballot.

“The Checks and Balances ActRead More

Ed Ring

The Misleading Arguments of Those Who Fight Against Pension Reform

Weakening pensions is a choice, not an imperative. The crisis is political, not actuarial. – Susan Greenbaum,guest editorial, Al Jazeera America, October 20, 2014

With this thesis highlighted, Greenbaum, a retired professor of anthropology at the University of South Florida, has just published a guest editorial that provides in one place a useful example of the distortions, demonizing and inversions of logic used by those who fight against pension reform. To understand why public employees, and their union leadership, remain sincere in their delusions regarding pensions, Greenbaum’s missive may serve as Exhibit A. Because she has joined a chorus that is funded not only by the billions that are spent by public employee unions on political and educational propaganda each year, but also funded by elements of those same Wall Street financial interests they routinely deride.

Let’s examine some of these misleading arguments and tactics, in no particular order:

(1) Identify key reformers, demonize them, then accuse anyoneRead More

John Hrabe

Voters Beware: “GOP taxpayer” group backs pro-tax candidates, Democrats and tax hikes – for a price

Dana Point Mayor Lisa Bartlett is no friend of taxpayers.

In 2009, the Orange County Republican voted to create a special tax on local businesses to fund a tourism marketing campaign for her city. Earlier this year, she voted to raise development fees in Dana Point and sided with public employee unions on contracting out government projects.

So, when Bartlett launched her campaign for Orange County Supervisor, it didn’t take long for the Orange County Republican Party and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association to rally behind her opponent, Robert Ming.

“We believe you will be an excellent representative for taxpayers and look forward to working with you in the years ahead,” Kris… Read More

Not Just a Plastic Bag Ban

[Publisher's Note: We are very pleased to offer this original commentary from Laguna Niguel Mayor Robert Ming. Ming is a candidate running for Orange County Supervisor. He's in a run-off against another candidate, Lisa Bartlett, who is a supporter of government-mandated plastic grocery store bans, having voted for one in Dana Point, where she serves on the City Council. You can find out more about Robert's candidacy here. -Flash]

Governor Brown just made single-use plastic grocery bags a thing of the past in California, maybe. Opponents of the ban have already started collecting signatures for a referendum to overturn it. While several people close to me, my wife included, would love to give you an earful about paper vs. plastic, the law is troubling for a bigger reason. It… Read More

Katy Grimes

Sacramento Arena Deal Ain’t Over ’til It’s Over

“It ain’t over ‘til it’s over,” Lenny Kravitz crooned in the 1990’s. And so goes Sacramento’s publicly subsidized arena deal.

The group of 12 citizens who sued the city under the California Environmental Quality Act, were handed another disappointment last week. Judge Timothy Frawley Friday rejected a pair of environmental lawsuits filed by the citizens over the Sacramento Kings’ new downtown arena.

However, an appeal may keep the environmental issues alive.

The group, led by retired Caltrans director Adriana GianturcoSaltonstall, had filed a notice of appeal seeking to overturn a judge’s refusal to grant an injunction halting construction of the planned Kings arena.

Gianturco wasthen-new-Gov. Jerry Brown’s1976 pick for director of the California Department of Transportation, often referred to as “Our Lady of the Diamond… Read More

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