Tom Elias

Bleeding stops on one Schwarzenegger blunder

California has bled many millions of dollars because of the myriad blunders by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who probably should have remained a muscleman actor and never ventured into politics. Spending has barely begun on the high-speed rail project he enthusiastically backed without worrying about troublesome details like its precise route or whether it can […]

March 25, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Confusion sets in over groundwater law

It’s beginning to look like the hosannas that greeted California’s first-ever groundwater regulation law were a tad premature when it passed late last summer. For after a tantalizing winter of heavy rains but insufficient snowfall to dent the state’s four-year drought, confusion over the groundwater rules has begun to set in. One thing for sure: […]

March 24, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Will PUC move lead to lower utility rates?

It’s possible that mid-February will be remembered for years to come as a fateful time in the century-long history of the California Public Utilities Commission. That’s when, without offering any legal justification, the five commissioners spent public money to hire a criminal lawyer. If courts find this move was as blatantly illegal as it looks […]

March 17, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Rice proves star power is still a political factor

Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state in the George W. Bush administration and now a Stanford University professor, has stated very clearly she would rather attend college basketball games and help choose the college football playoff teams than be a U.S. senator. At 61, she says she prefers a secure job in academe, playing […]

March 15, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Tax overhaul plan has potential

Rarely does a freshman state senator propose anything substantial during his or her first few days in office. But Robert Herzberg, elected last fall from a safe Democratic district in the San Fernando Valley portion of Los Angeles, is hardly a typical newbie. Hertzberg, speaker of the state Assembly from 2000 to 2002 and an […]

March 11, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Some convicts don’t deserve parole hearings

Consider the criminal history of Bobby Beausoleil, 67, the latest follower of Charles Manson to come up for an automatic parole hearing. Among the lesser-known members of the murderous so-called Manson “family,” Beausoleil was a Manson henchman who fled Los Angeles after the 1969 murders of musician Gary Hinman and movie stuntman Donald “Shorty” Shea. […]

March 06, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Initiative carnival coming next year

If voters get annoyed at seeing paid petition circulators outside their favorite big-box stores during the next 15 months, they will have only themselves to blame. Low voter turnout is one big reason to expect a larger-than-ever proliferation of ballot initiatives looking to share the fall 2016 ballot with presidential and U.S. Senate candidates. If you […]

March 05, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Top-two primary system survives first challenge

California’s three-year-old “top two” primary election system has never pleased any political party. Not large ones like the Republicans and Democrats, who don’t like members of the other large party helping choose their nominees. And not minor parties like Libertarians and Greens, who resent the fact that top two virtually excludes them from November general […]

March 01, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

A single vote really does count

Barely 21 percent of eligible California voters cast ballots in last fall’s election, which means about 80 percent of the eligible populace should have no complaints even if they don’t like the performances of those who were elected for the next two or four years. It’s easy to conclude this was because of apathy and […]

February 26, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Tail wags the dog again in presidential race

Less than a year from now — on Jan. 26, 2016 — voters in New Hampshire will don parkas and trek through snowdrifts to tell the rest of America who should be running for president and who should not. That vote will come eight days after the Iowa caucuses draw a few tens of thousands […]

February 11, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Red-light cameras are abating a bit

For many California drivers, there have been few worse plagues than the red-light cameras that once operated in more than 70 cities across the state. At their peak, red-light cameras featured tickets costing upwards of $450 for “offenses” like stopping for a red light, but with the front bumper a foot over a painted restraining […]

February 08, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Criminal investigation for utility regulators?

Memo to United States Attorneys in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego: It’s high time you investigate the former president and some current members and officials of the California Public Utilities Commission for things like conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. Evidence against current commissioners and former commission President Michael Peevey has […]

February 05, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Big utilities’ nightmare begins to play out

The biggest nightmare of California’s largest utility companies may be about to begin playing out, thanks to a small irrigation district in San Joaquin County and a bunch of disgruntled customers of Pacific Gas & Electric Co. This trend also had help from the state’s voters, who in 2010 rejected a ballot proposition designed and […]

January 25, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

PUC chief departs, but bad decisions live on

After 12 years of favoring big utility companies over individual consumers, Michael Peevey has at last left the California Public Utilities Commission. But many of his ill-considered — some say corrupt — decisions will linger on. Peevey departed in a carefully stage-managed mid-December commission meeting, forced by scandal to abandon previous plans to seek reappointment […]

January 13, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

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