Tom Elias

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 ,

Go slow on new electronic voting efforts

The reports came in from all across America during last fall’s election: Electronic voting machines were flipping some votes from Republican to Democrat in some states. From Democrat to Republican in others. In one state with several close races, Wisconsin, electronic vote-counting machines registered just 16 votes in a city where about 5,350 people were […]

January 08, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Tom Elias: Passage of Disclose Act is still a must

If there’s one main reason for the distrust many Californians feel for government and elected officials at all levels, it may be the way special interests regularly pour millions of dollars into election campaigns while managing to mask or obscure their identities. A major example last year was Proposition 45, voted down by a 59-41 […]

January 02, 2015 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Union vote exposes extent of campus anti-Semitism

Few disputes fought out by student governments have ever been as acrimonious as the battles raging intermittently across this state on whether to push University of California regents and trustees of other universities to join an international campaign against Israel. This movement seeks to boycott Israeli companies and academics, demands divestment from companies doing business […]

December 30, 2014 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

New advantage for Democrats in later vote deadline

It pays to read between the lines whenever the state Legislature or a city council makes changes to long-standing election routines. One example: Almost all cities that have lately switched local elections to even years so they coincide with federal and state voting feature Democrat-dominated city councils whose members know that higher turnouts favor Democrats […]

December 26, 2014 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

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