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Tom Elias

Lawn replacement is a mixed bag

Listen to water officials — from Gov. Jerry Brown down to local officials — and you’d think replacing lawns with drought-resistant plants or artificial turf is a pure good, no negatives involved. They know lawn replacement, often called “xeriscaping” because it can use cactuses and other desert plants, generally leads to at least a 30 […]

Costly housing is a huge crisis

In the Los Angeles area, fewer than one in four households headed by people in their 20s or early 30s — known demographically as “millennials” — can afford to buy the median-priced home, which now goes for just over $500,000. Overall, just 34 percent of households in the L.A. metropolitan area can afford that same home. Which means […]

Pension-change measure inevitable next year

It was inevitable once the number of signatures needed to put a constitutional amendment initiative on the statewide ballot dropped by 300,000 following last fall’s election: A measure to change the pension system governing many California public employees will be voted on in November of next year. Equally unsurprising are the identities of its two […]

Gasoline price-gouging evidence grows

Just about two years ago, when gasoline prices in most of California last moved well above the $4-per-gallon level, crude oil cost $147 a barrel. Oil companies said the high price of crude was a major factor in that price spike. This spring, when gas pump prices again jumped above $4 in many places, crude […]

Will California evade new round of base closures?

When former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel asked Congress last year to authorize a new round of military base closings, alarm bells went off in many parts of California. For this state has been victimized more than any other in the two already-completed rounds, which saw the military fail to realize most of the savings it […]

May 29, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Stymied House Dems may give state a real Senate race

Democrats in Congress will never say so publicly, but they know they have little or no hope of taking back control of the House of Representatives until 2022 at the earliest. That’s because gerrymandering in states like Texas and Georgia and North Carolina has concentrated the many Democratic voters in those places into just a […]

May 28, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Tom Elias: This ‘tax’ may be about to rise

If a committee of legislators or U.S. senators whose most influential members were under criminal investigation ever considered raising taxes on Californians by significant amounts, protests would be non-stop and cacophonous. But with the seriously sullied state Public Utilities Commission about to raise electric rates for the bulk of this state’s residents, the silence from […]

May 24, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Is UC anti-Semitism linked to more foreign students?

There is no doubt that dependence on the higher tuition paid by out-of-state and foreign students has become established policy at the University of California. Now, some believe this may be leading to the unintended consequence of an upsurge of anti-Semitism on campuses like Davis, Berkeley, UCLA and Riverside. The university says no. “I don’t […]

May 19, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Gas price surge? It’s largely due to gouging

There is absolutely no doubt about a few facts surrounding the gasoline price surge that Californians experienced in late winter and early spring. In March, California prices averaged 84 cents per gallon higher than the national average of $2.54 per gallon, rising to $3.38 after a wintertime dip. That meant Californians spent $34 million per […]

May 14, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

When a fine is only half a fine

Only minutes after an announcement that the California Public Utilities Commission would fine the state’s largest utility company $1.6 billion for violating state and federal gas pipeline safety standards, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. said it would not appeal the decision. But PG&E never said why it’s happy to accept the largest penalty ever assessed […]

May 12, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Will Disclose Act be an antidote to dismal vote turnouts?

Politicians have come up with myriad alleged reasons for the dismal vote turnouts seen across California in this spring’s municipal elections — not even reaching 10 percent of eligible voters in the state’s biggest city, Los Angeles. Bad timing, some suggest. Too many elections, others say. Another excuse: not enough news coverage. But these rationalizations ignore […]

May 07, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Logic and illogic in Brown’s drought plans

There is both sense and nonsense in the $1 billion drought relief package announced by Gov. Jerry Brown in a parched Sierra Nevada Mountains meadow that usually is covered in deep snow on the date Brown walked through it. But the rationale behind the single largest part of the package is fundamentally contradictory. Brown says […]

April 30, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Broad new vaccination law is a must

Rarely has a new law been so urgently and obviously needed as the broad children’s vaccination requirement now being carried by the state Legislature’s only medical doctor, Democratic state Sen. Richard Pan of Sacramento. While the measure has encountered resistance in the Legislature and even resulted in death threats to Pan, there is no factual […]

April 21, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Best budget idea? Letting sick, elderly convicts go

Sometimes it can take more than a decade for a completely sensible idea to catch on. So it is with what may be the single best money-saving idea in last year’s state budget, one that is just now beginning fully to take hold. The idea, part of a plan by Gov. Jerry Brown to appease […]

April 16, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,
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