FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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Katy Grimes

California’s High Speed ‘Browndoggle’ Breaks Ground

Desperate to get any part of California’s High Speed Rail built, Gov. Jerry Brown pushed the groundbreaking for the rail system upto Tuesday, just as the new Republican Congress is getting settled.

The motive? Democrats want to get their hands on $3.5 billion in federal stimulus money. And, there’s no time like the present… following a recent Third District Court of Appeal ruling which overturned a Sacramento Superior Court decision which contended that the funding plan for the high-speed rail project violated the ballot measure voters approved in 2008.

Dan Richard, chairman of the board of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, said they would move “aggressively” to build “a modern high-speed rail system that connects the state, creates jobs and complies with the law.”

There’s no time to waste lest another legal decision derail their plans.“Jobs, jobs, jobs” was the campaign rally cry for Jerry Brown during his 2010 run for governor, when he vowed his support for high-speed rail. He supported it so much it’s earned the nickname the “Browndoggle.”

In January 2013, Brown held carefully staged signing… Read More

Ed Ring

Conservatives, Police Unions, and the Future of Law Enforcement

Conservatives in America are at a crossroads. They face a choice between greater freedom or greater security. While striking this delicate balance has required ongoing policy choices throughout history, recent events involving law enforcement have brought these choices into sharp focus. Here’s how Patrik Johnson, writing last month in theChristian Science Monitor, described the choice:

“Police forces nationwide are being pulled between two opposite trends: more empathetic, community policing and an increasingly militarized response to crises.”

How conservatives, on balance, weigh in on this choice has far reaching consequences. On one hand, conservatives can support suggested reforms that embrace the value of empathy, minimize violence, alleviate tensions, and pave the way for 21st century policing appropriate to a free republic. Here is a key reform advocated by the protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, in reaction to the tensions in that city following a police shooting:

“A comprehensive review by the Department ofRead More

Duane Dichiara

Good-bye Ann Whitley, You Will Be Missed

There is always much discussion about what keeps the major political parties dominant in American politics, and what makes it nearly impossible for “independents” to get elected. Some say money, established donors. Certainly. Some say ingrained voter habits. Of course. But there is more to it. One of the great strengths of the parties is that they have a cadre of loyal paid and unpaid workers. Over the years, many of these people become the keepers of knowledge, or party myth, or both. They become stable pillars around which the party operates.

This week one such Republican, Ann Whitley, is retiring from the California Republican Party. I’m 44, and I don’t remember a CRP without Ann. I actually have no idea what her title is – maybe “One of Those People Who Have Watched Everything and Know Everyone and Can Give You the Kind of Advice Which Will Make You Look Smarter Than You Are.” More to the point, through good and bad decades Ann has been a stable face at the CRP, a person everyone knew was fair and decent.

Ann Whitley will probably rarely be quoted in the paper, or seen spouting off on the television news. You… Read More

Creating Jobs, Improving Schools Should be State’s Priorities

[Publisher's Note: As partof an ongoing effort to bring original, thoughtful commentary to you here at theFlashReport, we are pleased to present this column from Assembly GOP Leader Kristin Olsen.] If you are newto the FlashReport, please check out the main site and the acclaimed FlashReport Weblog on California politics.

On Monday, Governor Jerry Brown was sworn in for an unprecedented 4th term as Governor of California, and then delivered his 2015 State of… Read More

Katy Grimes

Gov. Jerry Brown State of the State: How is California Leading On Anything?

Following a peculiar introduction by California’s First Lady, Gov. Jerry Brown made his State of the State address even more peculiar when he cited dubious United Nations data on climate change. And then the governor announced he wanted 50 percent, instead of the already legislatively mandated one-third of the state’s electricity, under the 2011 Renewable Portfolio Standard, to be generated by renewable resources over the next 15 years. And he added that he wanted to cut petroleum usage by 50 percent.

Californians are faced with 930 new laws effective January 1, by this governor and Legislature.

Brown also said he would wanted to “double the energy efficiency of existing buildings, and make heating fuels cleaner.”

“I envision a wide range of initiatives: more distributed power, expanded rooftop solar, micro-grids, an energy imbalance market, battery storage, the full integration of information technology and electrical distribution and millions of… Read More

Jon Fleischman

Happy 2015? Um…

Californians should be concerned and wary as our liberal Democrat Governor and liberal Democrat-controlled legislature roll up their sleeves for another year of dirty work.

Typical outcomes will include higher taxes and more fees, more regulations on everything you could (and couldn’t) imagine, more erosion of rights as our “oh so smart” political class seeks to run our lives better than we could ever hope to do on our own.

Take it all in knowing that the real decision makers and power players aren’t before you in public office. The public employee unions in this state have wisely spent hundreds of millions of dollars to elect their vassals into office, and so the decisions that matter the most in state government that matter the most won’t be made in committee rooms or even the Governor’s conference room — but likely in a suite at a posh hotel booked out by the California Teachers Association.

To our 42 Republicans in the legislature I wish you good luck and a strong personal constitution. Remember that the only thing that can give their legal plunders a patina of… Read More

Assemblyman Donald P. Wagner

The Governor’s Legacy

Today is a good day to talk about Jerry Brown’s legacy.

This morning, he was sworn in to his fourth term. Already California’s longest serving governor, he can look forward to another four years to build on his legacy. And tomorrow, state leaders gather in Fresno for a “groundbreaking” ceremony for the so-called High Speed Rail project, considered by many to be Governor Brown’s signature “legacy” project. Thus, the idea of the governor’s legacy is ripe for discussion.

Certainly no one can begrudge the governor for wanting a legacy. He has had a long and successful career at the top of California politics. Of course he wants a legacy, as does anyone who gets into the business of government. Those of us privileged to be elected to office hope to make a difference and would like to leave a legacy of having done so.

Unfortunately, the High Speed Rail project is a very bad candidate for a legacy project.

First, the project likely does not pencil out. It is hard to find on planet earth a high speed rail project anywhere that is self-financing. Even absent the high speed component, most public rail of much significance requires government… Read More

Jon Coupal

CALIFORNIA COMEBACK OR CONTINUING CRISIS?

As the California Legislature reconvenes this week for the new session, Californians will hear two decidedly different messages from both politicians and political pundits about the “state of the state.” Governor Brown will surely tout the “California comeback” and argue that the state is in much better fiscal health than just a couple of years ago. On the other hand, more conservative voices will argue that California remains in fiscal crisis, that our system of governance is still fundamentally flawed and that those who believe the state is on the right track are simply fooling themselves.

So who is right, the “declinists” – as Governor Brown has labeled some of us in the latter group – or the “delusional” in the former?

First, in the “comeback” camp, there is no denying that California is enjoying the benefits of the national economic recovery. This rebound has resulted in much more than anticipated tax revenue for state coffers. In fact, for fiscal 2014-15 the Legislative Analyst is projecting an additional $2 billion.

Second, Brown will contend that we have already made substantial progress in dealing with the vast amount of… Read More

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