Walters: California restaurants shouldn’t be shocked law banning ‘junk fees’ applies to them

Last Friday, a friend and I met at a chain restaurant in Sacramento for our customary weekly lunch. Both of us ordered $16 plates of Mexican food.

When the bill came, it totaled a bit over $36, including taxes and a $1.28 “surcharge.” We gave the server $45 before leaving, assuming that the extra cash would cover her tip.

I mention the somewhat mysterious surcharge because, just a few days earlier, California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s office declared that a new state law outlawing extraneous fees attached to bills for services or goods also includes restaurants.

“SB 478 applies to restaurants, just like it applies to businesses across California,” a Department of Justice spokesperson told the San Francisco Chronicle. “The law is about making sure consumers know what they are going to pay and requires that the posted price include the full amount that a consumer must pay for that good or service.”

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It was something of a shock to restaurateurs because when the bill was making its way through the Legislature last year, they inferred from the discussions that restaurants would be exempt. That assumption meant that restaurants were not among the business groups opposing the measure.

The Chronicle’s reporting generated a sharp reaction from restaurant operators, many of whom have added fees to their bills to cover rising costs, particularly for wages, without raising their basic menu prices.

“It feels like the state lit the fuse to this bomb and is standing back to see what happens,” Tim Stannard of Bacchus Management Group, which operates multiple Bay Area restaurants, told the newspaper. “It is terrifying. We can’t pay the wages we’re paying now unless we dramatically increase prices and hope guests actually come in and pay those prices.”

On Monday, the Employment Policy Institute, a national organization that tracks minimum wages and other employment issues from a business standpoint, denounced Bonta’s declaration, saying it would exacerbate a decline already evident in California’s restaurant industry.

“Service charges have been increasingly common tools aimed at keeping restaurants afloat and able to pay the higher minimum wages, amid rapidly rising state and local minimum wage requirements,” the organization said in a statement. “Since the state began annual wage hikes up to $16.50 per hour starting in 2017, and localities raised wages even higher, California restaurants have suffered significant losses. Now this tool will be taken away from restaurants, causing further damage to the industry and its employees.”

Bonta and a coalition of consumer groups sponsored SB 478 after President Joe Biden vowed to eliminate what he calls “junk fees” that have proliferated in multiple industries. Two Democratic senators, Nancy Skinner of Oakland and Bill Dodd of Napa, carried the measure, which gained final approval last September and will take effect on July 1.

“Bait-and-switch advertising to hide fees is a significant problem facing consumers that appears to be proliferating in more and more sectors of the economy” the bill authors said while it was pending. “Hiding required fees is nothing more than a deceptive way of hiding the true price of a good or service.”

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

OCTA details cost of adding sand in coastal armoring proposal for tracks in San Clemente

A sand buffer the size of 285 football fields to block waves from hitting the train tracks where they run beachfront in San Clemente has been added as part the Orange County Transportation Authority’s proposal to protect the regional rail system.

The sand, an estimated 500,000 cubic yards, would be used in addition to the placement of large boulders and catchment walls to protect the tracks from waves and an eroding shoreline on one side and landslides on the other, said officials with the OCTA, which owns the railway through Orange County.

But where that sand would come from – and whether permitting could be obtained quickly – is still unclear.

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Residents, the city and other agencies have been vocal in their concerns over earlier presentations by the transportation authority that didn’t seem to promote sand replenishment among the solutions to protecting four “hot spot” areas that have been identified as future causes for concern for the rail line that has seen damage and train disruptions multiple times the last couple of years. OCTA officials have said more safeguards are needed before the next wet winter season.

The estimated $200 million in potential work that has been detailed during several “listening sessions” and OCTA meetings has called for the construction of a half-mile-long catchment wall near the most recent landslide at the Mariposa Bridge, as well as using more boulders on the beach side, including engineered revetment that would add a concrete base to a wall of rocks on the south end of town, adding rocks to San Clemente State Beach, and more rocks at the north end of the city’s shore.

Community outcry, as well as concern from city and California Coastal Commission officials, have called for OCTA to add sand, a more nature-based solution, to the proposed plans.

Two advocacy groups, Save Our Beaches – San Clemente and Bring Back Our Beaches, have formed in response to the emergency riprap installed on the beach in recent years following track damage, with BBOB launching a petition in the last week that quickly generated thousands of signatures opposing the use of more rocks.

Hard armoring, such as installing boulders and sea walls, are a controversial method of protecting infrastructure because the structure can change the wave action, scouring the sand further offshore and worsening erosion, coastal experts argue.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

California home insurance crisis: These are the major insurers still offering policies

Numerous Californians have lost their home insurance over the past few years as some of the state’s largest insurers have cut back.

Photo by Ross Stone on Unsplash

Some insurers have limited where they will write new policies, and others have stopped writing new policies altogether. While most of the state’s 10 largest insurers say they are still offering new policies and renewing existing ones, there are key exceptions.

Together, the top 10 insurers represented just over half of the total California property and casualty insurance market in 2022, according to the latest available data from the California Department of Insurance. 

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Here’s what to know about the top 10 home insurers in California:

No. 1 State Farm

State Farm, California’s largest property and casualty insurer with an 8.7% market share, hasn’t offered new home policies since May 2023. The company said wildfire risk, construction costs and pricey premiums for reinsurance (insurance for insurers, which cannot be factored into rates in California) motivated the decision. 

The company has continued to renew most, but not all, of its existing policies, though prices are rising. In March, State Farm rates rose an average of 20% across the state. Shortly after the rate increase took effect, State Farm announced it would not renew 72,000 policies — 30,000 homeowner and other personal property policies and 42,000 commercial property policies, a small fraction of its policies in the state.

Click here to read the full article in the SF Chronicle

Gov. Gavin Newsom will Fiddle his Way to Rome While California Incinerates

Newsom is taking his climate change road show to the Vatican

Gov. Gavin Newsom is taking his climate change road show to the Vatican where he was invited to speak by Pope Francis at a Summit of mayors and governors. The Summit, which will be held from May 15th to May 17th, will cover “the impact of rising temperatures” in local communities, and “climate resilience.”

According to Newsom’s office, the Governor is expected to address Pope Francis and talk about the recent fires, floods, and droughts in California. The speech overall is likely to mention his numerous climate policy dates ahead, including his 2045 goal of California being 100% green power and carbon neutral, as well as his 2035 goal of the state no longer selling new gas-powered cars, the Globe reported last week.

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There are a few problems with this plan.

The first is Newsom is parroting the tiresome United Nations talking point that temperatures are rising. He does this a) because he is not a scientist; and b) because he needs a distraction from the living hell he has turned California into.

And perhaps most important, how does Gov. Newsom galavanting across the Atlantic to a Climate Change Summit at the Vatican help or benefit Californians? When polled, voters never rate Climate Change as important or even relevant in their lives, despite legacy media pushing the agenda. Voters also are savvy enough to know that there is no settled science about Climate Change, the way Newsom and the Left claims.

Let’s start with one important fact, and my favorite: Greenhouse gasses aren’t destroying the world – greenhouse gasses trap heat, making Earth habitable.

Even as important, James E. Enstrom, PhD, MPH clears up some of the governor’s climate change notions with this list of Major Facts About California Air Pollution:

1. California has record low levels of air pollution that are below the threshold of human health effects

2. Published evidence from six California epidemiologic cohorts has found that PM2.5 is NOT related to total mortality.

3. The 2019 Age-Adjusted Total Death Rates (deaths per 1000) in California are among the lowest in the US. California has the second lowest rate of any State (6.02); Los Angeles County 5.75; California Hispanics 5.23; Los Angeles County Hispanics 5.07.  All of these rates are far lower than the US rate (7.15).  More Data & References for Facts 1-3: (http://scientificintegrityinstitute.org/CARBProp012323.pdf).

4. Major risk factors for coronary heart disease are blood pressure, blood cholesterol, tobacco smoking, diabetes, family history of heart disease, obesity, age, gender, and stress. Air pollution is NOT a factor. (www.msn.com/en-us/health/condition/coronary-artery-disease/hp-coronary-artery-disease).

5. The causes of asthma are unknown. Factors known to trigger asthmatic symptoms are dust mites, animal dander, pollen, molds, cigarette smoke, certain chemicals, cold air, and sinusitis. Air pollution is NOT an established factor. (www.msn.com/en-us/health/condition/asthma/hp-asthma)

6.  Objective cost-benefit analysis of CARB air pollution regulations shows that the assumed health benefits of these regulations are less than the costs to the businesses that have been economically impacted by these regulations.

7.  California and the US as a whole have among the lowest air pollution levels in the entire world.

PM2.5 refers to atmospheric particulate matter (PM) that have a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, which is about 3 percent the diameter of a human hair and can only be detected with an electron microscope.

I’m no more of a scientist than Gavin Newsom is, but I research credible scientists and talk with them. All of this greenhouse gas deception is based on the purely speculative future threat that global warming supposedly poses to low-income nations. It’s a wealth redistribution scheme by and though the UN, taking money from the U.S. and other Western Nations, supposedly going to Third World countries.

So, a rousing Thank You to Dr. Enstrom for these facts.

California is in a world of hurt – and not from Climate Change, or any future threat from it. California has high crime, high taxes (on everything), high housing costs, high college students (legalized pot), high college tuitions, high inflation, high outbound migration, high gas prices, high homeless population, high rate of State mandated secrecy of gender transitioning children from parents, high illegal alien population, high illegal alien population on state funded healthcare (Medi-Cal), high energy costs, high sex trafficking, high unemployment fraud, high abortion procedures (abortion.ca.gov), high public school teachers strikes, high porn in K-12 curriculum, high Water rationing… (and some say a high governor)…

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

Electric bills could rise for folks in cooler coastal climes under new plan

Column: Inland and lower-income folks could see bills drop, analyses say

Nearly universally loathed: An income-based fixed service charge on electric bills.

It could have exceeded $100 a month for the wealthiest folks, according to early proposals, but “progressive” apparently only goes so far, even here in California.

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Once lawmakers realized they had approved this provision — a handful of paragraphs stuck into a long, last-minute trailer bill in 2022 — howls of rage erupted from Democrats, Republicans, and an irate public-at-large. Lawmakers backed away in nearly stampede-like fashion. Bills to repeal it were floated by legislators from both parties. Flurries of competing proposals were filed with the California Public Utilities Commission.

None of the bills survived. And now, after much gnashing of teeth, tearing of hair and high theatrics, a $24.15 flat, fixed, monthly service charge for all residential customers except the lowest-income Californians goes to the PUC for approval on May 9.

Folks in cool coastal climes would likely see bills increase, while folks in hot inland climes would likely see them decrease, according to the PUC’s in-house Solomon-the-Wise, charged with protecting the little guy.

Opponents call it a “utility tax” and say it’ll inflate costs for working and middle-income folks, with no cap to keep it under control going forward.

Here everyone might stop and take a breath. This is not a rate increase, the PUC insists, trying to raise its voice above the angry din. It is not a tax. It does not impose any new fees. It does not generate new profit for utilities.

“It simply reallocates how existing costs are shared among customers,” the PUC said in its primer when the proposal was announced in March.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

California Supreme Court will weigh removal of Taxpayer Protection Act from ballot. Here’s why

The state’s Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case this week that could determine whether Californians are allowed to weigh in on an expansive ballot measure that would put virtually all tax increases before voters. It’s part of a rare case in which the court will consider removing a proposition from the ballot before an election.

At issue is whether the sweeping ballot measure, known by its supporters as the “Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act,” is a constitutional amendment or a constitutional revision. The business-backed initiative would mandate that voters sign off on all new tax increases, both at the state and local level. If approved by voters, the initiative would also reclassify many government fees as taxes and require any tax increase enacted since 2022 to comply with the new requirements.

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A heavy-hitting coalition of Democratic officials and public labor leaders – from Gov. Gavin Newsom to teacher and firefighter unions – are asking the state’s highest court to remove the measure from the November ballot. They argue the ballot initiative is too broad to be considered a constitutional amendment, but is instead a constitutional revision.

While voters can propose amendments to state law and the constitution through ballot measures, only the legislature can propose broader constitutional revisions. Business and taxpayer advocates submitted more than 1 million signatures in late 2022 to place the measure on the ballot. Its backers say the measure is an attempt to rein in what they describe as runaway spending by California’s Democratic leaders and make the state more business-friendly. “California is the highest-cost state in the country and every employer knows it,” said Robert Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable, a lead proponent of the initiative. “It’s our job to try and create balance in those policies or try and change those policies in a major way by appealing directly to voters.”

WHAT THE TAXPAYER PROTECTION ACT WOULD DO At its core, the Taxpayer Protection Act is designed to make it harder to raise taxes in California.

Click here to read the full article in the Sacramento Bee

Crime is Not Down, Bidenflation is Real, the Border is Not Secure, and ‘Migrants’ are Illegal Aliens

A few thoughts from the peanut gallery: opinion backed by facts

Crime is not down, Bidenflation is real, the Border is not secure, boys can’t be girls, progressives are not “progressive,” and “Migrants” are illegal aliens and some are terrorists.

It’s time to get a few things straight.

The pro-Hamas, pro-Palestine protests on universities are not peaceful, nor are they organic. They are being funded by corrupt elitists the way ACORN, BLM and the George Floyd mobs were.

Fentanyl from China has killed more Americans than died in the Vietnam War – more than 80,000 overdoses occurred in 2021 and approximately 77,415 between April 2022 and April 2023, according to the CDC.

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“Climate Change” originated in the United Nations and is a redistribution-of-wealth scheme – even the BBC knows this.

Democrats are socialists and Marxists – the Democratic Socialists of America is theirs. (What is Democratic about them anyway?) Are there Republican Socialists of America within the Republican Party? Nope.

Today’s so-called “progressives” are not – they are antiquated emotional reactionaries.

Trans-kids and “Gender-affirming care” is being pushed by global elitists – and China. The Biden Administration has ordered men into women’s shelters, medically transitioned children, used school lunch programs for poor children as leverage to force schools to adopt the rainbow agenda, and let males into girls’ locker rooms, the Ethics in Public Policy Center acknowledges. “And, of course, pretty much every major left-wing group has followed the LGBT lobby into pushing a radical transgender agenda.”

Boys with male genitalia and the XY chromosome are not girls. In humans, sex is determined by specific chromosomes – XX female, XY male. That’s just science and should not require a link.

Title IX was passed in 1972 and prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or any other education program that receives funding from the federal government.

There is nothing about gender identity or trans persons in Title IX:

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

I have lived Title IX and know it intimately. Challenge me. Please.

California Governor Gavin Newsom is one of the corrupt elitists, part of the ruthless, sadistic ruling class, beholden to the UN, EU, WEF, WHO and China. He doesn’t govern California for the people; he is helping to destroy it. Human Events has reported extensively on the Young Global Leaders (YGLs) of the WEF:

“WEF doesn’t discriminate based on party – it recruits politicians from both sides. This is especially true in the United States. Dan CrenshawGavin NewsomAdam KinzingerPete ButtigiegNikki HaleyTulsi Gabbard, Texas Congressman Colin Allred, and Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego have all been named as YGLs.”

“Business leaders like Bill GatesJeff BezosMark ZuckerbergLarry Page and Sergey Brin are all listed as YGL alumni.”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

California settles opioid complaint with same company selling the state overdose meds

California Attorney General Rob Bonta on Friday announced a $273 million multistate settlement with New Jersey-based Amneal Pharmaceutical for the drug manufacturer’s alleged failure to report suspicious opioid orders, and as a consequence contributing to the opioid epidemic

If the name “Amneal Pharmaceuticals” rings a bell, it’s because just days earlier Gov. Gavin Newsom and state health officials announced a deal with this same company to procure naloxone, the overdose reversal medication, at a cheaper price than currently available. That agreement locks that state in as a long-term customer to the company.

Under the opioid settlement agreement that is yet to be finalized, Amneal will pay states a total of $92.5 million in cash and $180 million in naloxone products over a 10-year period. 

In a statement, Amneal said the settlement would resolve all pending lawsuits filed by states against the company.The company did not admit any wrongdoing. 

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Bonta in a written statement said the settlement “builds on our efforts to heal our communities and respond to this epidemic from all angles, from recovery services to resources on prevention and treatment.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James explicitly criticized the company in her statement about the settlement. 

“Amneal became one of the largest generic pharmaceutical companies in the world by profiting off the sale of dangerous opioids,” she said. According to James’ office, Amneal sold nearly 9 billion pills between 2006 to 2019.

To date, California  has secured $4.25 billion in opioid settlement funds from drug companies for their alleged role in fueling the opioid epidemic. The state uses the money on opioid remediation programs, such as distributing naloxone and training substance use providers.

Since 2018, the state has been purchasing the overdose reversal medication and distributing it to schools, law enforcement, county health departments and community harm reduction programs. 

Starting this month, California will be able to buy more naloxone because of the lower price it secured from Amneal: $24 for a two-unit nasal spray pack instead of the current price of $41.

In a statement, the Department of Health Care Access and Information, which is overseeing the naloxone contract, said it learned that Amneal was named in opioid litigation as it vetted proposals. 

“In making its decision to select Amneal for the naloxone program, CalRx prioritized factors such as price, time to market, and ability to meet the anticipated volume demands in California – understanding that more efficiency means more lives saved,” Andrew DiLuccia, a spokesperson for the department said in an email. 

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

Judge rejects Eastman bid to retain law practice while fighting disbarment

He has pleaded with the judge to consider delaying the impact of her ruling.

A judge in California turned down an urgent plea Wednesday from John Eastman — an architect of Donald Trump’s bid to subvert the 2020 election — to allow him to keep practicing law while he fights an effort to permanently revoke his license.

Judge Yvette Roland recommended Eastman’s disbarment in March after finding he repeatedly breached legal ethics in service of Trump’s scheme to stay in power. Though her ruling is not the final word — and Eastman plans to appeal — it triggered an automatic suspension of Eastman’s license.

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In recent weeks, Eastman pleaded with Roland to consider delaying the impact of her ruling, noting that his inability to practice law would disrupt several ongoing federal cases — including a lawsuit brought by Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz against two California cities that denied their request to host a political event. Eastman also represents the Colorado Republican Party in an election-related suit and a Colorado teenager suing his high school over administrators’ refusal to allow him to display a Gadsden flag.

Click here to read the full article in Politico

Jailed students, a canceled commencement, angry parents: USC’s Carol Folt takes on critics

When USC trustees selected Carol Folt as their next president, they gave her one of the most challenging mandates in American higher education: Restore trust in a university diminished by scandals.

She replaced key administrators, brokered a $1-billion settlement with alumnae victimized by a sexually abusive gynecologist, hired a new football coach and authorized the removal of the name of an antisemitic, eugenics-supporting former USC president from an iconic campus building. To dozens of Japanese American ex-students unjustly incarcerated during World War II, then later denied reentry to the university, Folt awarded honorary degrees.

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“We are bringing some closure and perhaps healing,” Folt told descendants of those former students at a 2022 gala for Asian American alumni, distilling two key themes of her five-year tenure.

But a cascade of decisions that Folt made this spring around USC’s commencement and Israel-Hamas war-related protests have inflamed tensions and opened fresh wounds, presenting the most significant test of her tenure as university presidents around the country wrestle with similar dilemmas.

Citing unspecified safety threats, Folt rescinded pro-Palestinian valedictorian Asna Tabassum’s speaking slot in USC’s main commencement ceremony. Days later, amid a swell of outrage, Folt “released” director Jon M. Chu and other celebrities from receiving honorary degrees at the ceremony. 

After students set up a tent encampment in support of Palestinians and demanded that USC divest from financial ties with Israel, Folt and her team called in the LAPD, and 93 were arrested. Last week, Folt canceled the “main stage” commencement ceremony altogether, depriving students and their families of a treasured ritual.

For nearly two weeks, Folt made no public remarks, and her silence fed a growing sense that the university’s top executive was missing in action, according to interviews with faculty, students and alumni.

In balancing campus safety and the right to protest with concerns about antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred, Folt was bound to take criticism from all directions. 

But many saw the damage at USC as self-inflicted.

Tabassum was not known to be a campus activist, and canceling her speech in the name of safety was seen by some as shutting down a Muslim student’s voice at the very time the world needed to hear it. “Let Asna speak” became a rallying cry at USC and beyond.

“This is an epic failure in leadership,” said Annette Ricchiazzi, a USC alumna whose daughter graduates this month. Ricchiazzi, a former USC administrator who now works as a consultant for nonprofits, predicted that the events of April would end up as a case study taught to crisis communications or business classes. “I don’t think she’s a great decision-maker,” she said of Folt.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times