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Tom Elias

Mail ballots change campaigns

You’ve heard of the “October surprise,” where candidates hold on to something negative about their opponent, then spring it at the last moment so the opponent won’t have time to respond much before Election Day? Well, forget that model, which is about as modern and workable today as a Model T. Mail-in ballots — known […]

September 21, 2012 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Déjà vu on the initiative front

California voters can be excused if they get a sense of déjà vu when taking their first look at the ballot initiative pamphlets for the fall election. That’s because they’ve already seen and decided on several of the issues they’re being asked to consider in November. The decisions, of course, were negative on all those […]

September 12, 2012 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Obama reaches out to Latino voters

The barrage of Republican television advertising aimed at both registered Latino voters and potential Hispanic voters who have not yet registered began early this summer. Bankrolled mostly by super political action committees grown stupendously wealthy under the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision allowing both individual donors and corporations to fund them without limit, […]

September 09, 2012 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Trustees, lawmakers don’t get it

It became clear early last spring that the trustees of the 23-campus California State University system just don’t get it. Shuffling administrators from school to school and bringing in the occasional outsider, they began giving new college presidents salaries far higher than what predecessors had received. The rationale for this, as it often is in […]

September 04, 2012 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Delta fix is better than nothing

If there’s such a thing as a sure thing it politics, it is this: If the water plan announced late last month by Gov. Jerry Brown ever passes the state Legislature, it surely will become the object of a statewide referendum much like the 1982 vote that defeated a somewhat similar plan endorsed by Brown. […]

August 31, 2012 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Bipartisanship still can happen

Not even the revelation that dishonest state parks officials hid $54 million in reserve funds from budget writers and the public can dim the wider import of a park-rescue bill now working its way through the Legislature. This bill demonstrates that even before a possible few moderate politicians arrive in Sacramento after November’s runoff election, […]

August 22, 2012 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Dropout report still has holes

A combination of computerized tracking and public pressure have joined to make reporting of school dropouts in California the best in America, but those reports are still not good enough. For sure, we now have a more accurate idea of how many students drop out of school before they finish the 12th grade — in […]

August 16, 2012 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Bullet train slowed by indirect route

There’s little doubt the high-speed rail plan passed as Proposition 1A in November 2008 was designed to pander to voters in cities not exactly on the straight-line path between Los Angeles and San Francisco. As proposed and passed by a 53-47 percent margin, this route meandered first through the Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles, […]

August 12, 2012 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Trying to put a fig leaf over ‘paycheck protection’

At least the conservative interests behind the latest move to limit or eliminate the influence of labor unions in California politics have heard what their critics said about their earlier efforts. Twice before, voters have rejected efforts by corporate lobbies like the state Chamber of Commerce to force unions to get signatures yearly from their […]

August 09, 2012 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Realignment gripes are about money

Complaints have been coming sporadically from around California ever since state prisons began dumping inmates back to counties last fall in a move designed to save money. Yes, the state has given cities and (mostly) counties hundreds of millions of dollars as compensation for housing the former state convicts and supervising their parole. But new […]

August 07, 2012 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

CSU trustees are way out of touch

It’s just not enough anymore to call the trustees of the California State University system insensitive or tone-deaf. Some of their recent actions indicate they border on the totally insensate. How else to explain the fact that in one 24-hour period this spring, this board first voted to accept virtually no new admissions for the […]

July 27, 2012 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Open debate would blow up secrecy

Much has been made — and rightly so — of the “budget trailer” bill passed swiftly and without public hearings earlier this summer that allows virtually complete secrecy to the new semi-governmental corporation that will administer California’s upcoming cap and trade program for reducing air pollution and greenhouse gases. That measure, known as SB 1018, […]

July 25, 2012 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Top ballot slot is no guarantee

Gov. Jerry Brown took great pains trying to ensure his tax increase proposition would be listed first on the November ballot, acting on the presumption that placement would make it more likely to pass. That’s about as flawed an assumption as exists in California politics. For nothing in the past history of California initiatives suggests […]

July 20, 2012 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Partnerships won’t work elsewhere

The many thousands who regularly use this state’s large and varied park system were among the most distraught of Californians when legislators and Gov. Jerry Brown last year imposed cuts and closures on the system, with 70 parks scheduled for shuttering early this summer. Some of those closures will come right on schedule, but not […]

July 17, 2012 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,
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