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Tom Elias

Brown: more than a caretaker?

During his first eight years as governor, Jerry Brown was so imaginative about what state government could do that he won the nickname “Gov. Moonbeam.” It took Brown, then in his 30s, to theorize that a state could launch its own communication satellite. And that a governor should deal person to person with presidents and […]

November 13, 2014 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Big bucks too much for populist measures

So much for populism. At least when it comes to fighting the interests of big-money corporations. In every vote last week where the interests of ordinary Californians were pitted against those of large companies, the corporate interests won big. Big bucks essentially convinced millions to vote against their own best interests. It was an unfettered triumph […]

November 11, 2014 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Replacing Boxer could be first race of new era

This year’s election is over, and the main Tuesday result in California was not the least bit surprising: Four more years of Gov. Jerry Brown working with a Democratic-dominated Legislature. But the next election season began the moment this year’s ended, and every indication is that the long logjam that has frustrated ambitious Democrats for […]

November 06, 2014 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Two obvious ‘yes’ votes: 45, 48

It’s almost a foregone conclusion that the Proposition 1 water bond on Tuesday’s ballot will pass easily: Every poll shows it with almost a 2-1 lead heading into the vote, and the opposition has virtually no money for television commercials. But two other propositions are almost equally deserving of yes votes, Propositions 45 and 48. […]

November 02, 2014 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Kashkari’s fire may give him a future

No candidate likes to admit in October that he has virtually no chance to win the office he’s running for. So it is today with Neel Kashkari, the Republican nominee — read: sacrificial lamb — who is Gov. Jerry Brown’s re-election opponent. But occasionally a seemingly sure loser shows enough fire and grit to establish himself or […]

October 16, 2014 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Why Dems will have a lock on California

It was lawbreaking, both proven and alleged, that ended the Democrats’ supermajority in the state Senate. Republicans and their efforts had nothing to do with it. Until state Sens. Roderick Wright of Los Angeles, Ron Calderon of Montebello and Leland Yee of San Francisco encountered serious legal problems, Democrats had more than two-thirds of the seats […]

October 14, 2014 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

We need this water bond

The outcome is rarely certain when state government asks voter permission to spend $7.5 billion of the taxpayers’ money, but it’s also unusual for a ballot proposition to win as wide a range of support as Prop. 1 already had more than a month before the Nov. 4 Election Day. Every poll shows the measure […]

October 08, 2014 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Tom Elias: Signs indicate California recovery will last

There are still skeptics who maintain the California economy remains in recession, that talk of economic recovery amounts to whistling past the proverbial graveyard when unemployment remains above 7 percent. Gov. Jerry Brown labeled these folks “declinists” two years ago, when unemployment was much higher and the signs of recovery were not nearly as strong […]

September 26, 2014 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Teacher tenure becomes key campaign issue

For three months, the time bomb that is the Vergara vs. California court decision lurked in the background as two of this fall’s major political contests gradually took shape. Those two are the races for governor and state schools superintendent, both offices now occupied by Democrats strongly backed by teachers unions: Gov. Jerry Brown and […]

September 23, 2014 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

If not six Californias, how about a sovereign one?

Two years from now, Californians will not only be thinking about electing a U.S. senator, 53 members of Congress and a president, but most likely also about the possibility of carving up their state into six new ones. The ballot initiative to do this is the brainchild of billionaire venture capitalist Tim Draper, who observes […]

September 16, 2014 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Groundwater rules: too late and far too little

Never mind the hosannas that followed immediately after state legislators passed a last-minute package of bills purported to impose California’s first-ever statewide regulations on groundwater use. The bottom line is that those laws will change nothing for decades, while today’s reality cries out for fast action. Groundwater accounts for about 35 percent of the state’s […]

September 09, 2014 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Minority-party voters now have a say

When California voters adopted the “top two” primary election system four years ago via Proposition 14, they meant to make state politics more moderate, to ease some of the sharp divides between Republicans and Democrats that led to legislative and budgetary gridlock. It’s working, but still a work in progress. The relatively new system that […]

September 04, 2014 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Tesla has state walking a tightrope

And so California government now walks a tightrope, put in that position by one of the latest in the large corps of successful high-tech startups this state has spawned over the past few decades. Make a misstep in one direction and the state stands to lose a huge battery plant and 6,500 jobs. Stumble the […]

September 02, 2014 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,

Changing local election dates benefits Democrats

No one knows better than Democratic Party politicians that voters who tend to support them are at high tide in November general elections during even-numbered years when offices like president and governor and U.S. senator are at stake. Turnouts are far lower in primary elections, special elections and those held in some cities during odd-numbered […]

August 31, 2014 | Posted in Columns | Tagged ,
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