Coupal: Yes, California is a high-tax state

“Is California Really a High-Tax State?” 

That is the headline on a recent report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), a liberal Washington, D.C. research group that wants us to believe the answer is “no” even as our wallets are screaming, “Yes!” 

The report received a fair amount of publicity, as have ITEP’s past publications with similar themes, so it warrants some discussion.  

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As the leaders of the two largest taxpayer organizations in California, our conclusion is that while the data presented in the study may be technically accurate, the conclusions drawn therefrom are questionable.

The thesis of the report is that for lower-income households, California’s tax burden is similar to that of states against which California competes, chiefly Texas and Florida. Specifically, the report claims that “California has lower taxes for the bottom 40 percent of earners.”

The ITEP analysis focuses on income taxes and acknowledges that California has high rates for wealthy individuals. To be more accurate, it should be noted that California’s 13.3 percent rate on the very rich is, in fact, the highest in the nation. Moreover, the recent removal of the wage cap on unemployment insurance payment subjects all wage income to the payroll tax, which means the state’s top marginal individual income tax rate on wage income (not all income) is now 14.4 percent.

ITEP then downplays California’s tax burden by defining “high-tax” and “low-tax” very differently than you might expect. 

Most people compare taxes in a straightforward manner: The sales tax is 10.75 percent in Alameda, 7 percent in Miami, and 0 percent in Bozeman, so if you buy a $600 widget, the additional tax will add $64.50, $42 or $0, respectively.

If you are thinking about moving, you might compare income taxes. The tax for a single filer with $110,000 in taxable income and no dependents is $6,882 in California, $4,840 in Colorado, $0 in Texas, etc. (In addition to the highest income tax rate for the wealthy, California has a 9.3 percent rate that kicks in at a modest $68,350 for single filers.)

Commuters might compare gas taxes: 57.9 cents per gallon in California (the highest in the nation, set to increase July 1 to 59.6 cents, 25 cents in Connecticut, 12 cents in Vermont, and so on. (This is just the excise tax –additional state and federal taxes and fees increase the government’s take to roughly $1.21 per gallon in California.)

Starting a business? Compare California’s corporate tax rate of 8.84 percent to 9.8 percent in Minnesota, 2.4 percent in North Carolina, and 0 percent in South Dakota, etc.

ITEP does not use such apples-to-apples comparisons. Rather, it attempts to compare taxes as a percentage of income. So, a tax of $50 in California could be deemed “lower” than a tax of $10 in another state if the Californian has a sufficiently higher income.

This requires more estimates and statistical gymnastics – complicated by the fact that ITEP excludes taxpayers aged 65 and older, which leaves out roughly 18 percent of the U.S. population – and turns the report into one about income as well as taxes.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

Gov. Newsom Signs ‘Emergency’ Bill Authorizing Arizona Doctors to Perform Abortions In California

The governor now promotes abortion tourism

In April, California Governor Gavin Newsom, who isn’t running for president, did a MSNBC interview with former Biden Administration spokeswoman Jen Psaki, and lied claiming that if “Donald Trump becomes president of the United States he will sign a national abortion ban. Period. Full Stop.”

The media and even Vice President Harris also claimed that Donald Trump, if elected again, will sign a national abortion ban. However, Mr. Trump very clearly announced his position on abortion – that it is a state’s rights issue now that the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, sending the issue back to the states.

Newsom and Psaki discussed a new Democrat ad aired in Alabama and Arizona showing two women driving nervously near the state border, and getting pulled over by a cop for seeking an abortion across state lines.

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Then Newsom announced “emergency legislation” to allow doctors from Arizona to come to California and provide abortions to Arizona patients.

He calls abortions “reproductive care,” which is rather ironic since “reproductive” means “procreative” and “reproducing,” when abortions kill the unborn child.

We also found it ironic that he did not offer emergency legislation for the escalating crime, or the explosion of drug-addicted homeless vagrants terrorizing California cities.

Thursday afternoon, Gov. Newsom announced that he signed a bill “to protect abortion care for Arizona patients in California.”

The bill, SB 233 is authored by the ghoulish Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) “to allow Arizona abortion providers to temporarily provide abortion care to patients from Arizona who travel to California for that care.”

Isn’t that special. Gov. Newsom turned California into an Abortion Sanctuary State – The Governor who shut down California’s beaches and legendary tourist attractions, churches, bars and restaurants as a response to the COVID pandemic, now promotes abortion tourism, inviting tourists to visit California and get an abortion if their own state has abortion restrictions, the Globe reported.

The governor also budgeted more than $200 million in state funding to create abortion.ca.gov, cover uninsured abortion care and to support providers.

Newsom says California is absorbing an additional 17% of women seeking abortions from other states because California is an abortion sanctuary state. “Important to remind people Jen, is about 1/3 of Planned Parenthood patients in America are here in California” Newsom said excitedly in his interview with Psaki. (California is also home to 1/3 of the entire country’s welfare recipients and 1/2 of the country’s homeless.)

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

Ucla leader grilled at D.C. hearing

Block and others defend their handling of campus incidents amid concerns of antisemitism.

WASHINGTON — A House committee grilled UCLA Chancellor Gene Block about pro-Palestinian protests as he faced off with lawmakers Thursday over his handling of a violent mob attack last month on a campus encampment and answered accusations that the university has failed under his leadership to address a rising tide of antisemitism.

Block, who testified alongside the presidents of Northwestern and Rutgers universities, was soft-spoken and at times vague in response to questions on UCLA administrators’ role in resolving campus tensions that have grown since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel and that country’s retaliatory war in the Gaza Strip.

The chancellor said he could not fully answer questions about issues including the status of students facing disciplinary action for violating UCLA rules and the state of police investigations into agitators who attacked an encampment overnight on April 30 amid an hours-long delay in police response.

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“I don’t know if that’s ongoing,” Block said of a police investigation into allegations of antisemitic threats against a UCLA professor and her husband.

“We’ll see what happens,” he said regarding disciplinary processes that were prompted by complaints that pro-Palestinian protesters had prevented some Jewish students from accessing parts of campus.

Questions over Block’s leadership catapulted to the national stage just two months shy of his departure from the chancellor role.

The hearing by the GOP-led House Committee on Education and the Workforce focused on antisemitism on U.S. campuses. In tense exchanges, Republicans largely targeted Northwestern President Michael Schill and, to a lesser extent, Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway. Both leaders have come to agreements with students to take down pro-Palestinian encampments.

Democrats, who make up 20 of the 44 members of the committee, criticized Republicans as not being serious in their pursuit to combat antisemitism. Members of the House minority have called the hearings an attempt by Republicans to use campus unrest for political gain, pointing out that no similar hearings have been convened on anti-Muslim or anti-Arab hatred, which have also increased.

Four Californians sit on the committee — Republican Reps. Michelle Steel and Kevin Kiley and Democratic Reps. Mark Takano and Mark DeSaulnier.

Republicans on the panel accused Schill and Holloway of “giving in” to protesters, who — like those at UCLA — had urged their universities to divest their endowments from weapons companies and ties to Israel. Each university, including UCLA, has rejected the call.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) questioned Schill on allegations of assault and stalking of Jewish students on campus. Schill said the university “believes in due process” but that he did not have a timeline to offer on the “lots of investigations” that are underway.

Schill and Holloway defended their universities’ pacts with protesters. Schill said the agreement at Northwestern gave students “the ability to feel safe on campus.” Halloway shot back at Republicans who labeled protesters as “pro-Hamas.”

“They were not, as some have characterized them, terrorists. They were our students,” Halloway said.

The hearing did not provoke explosive moments like those that unfolded in December, when the committee’s first hearing contributed to the resignations of the presidents of Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania. During that testimony, university leaders had stumbled when asked how their campuses would handle calls for the genocide of Jews.

In his opening remarks, Block said that, “with the benefit of hindsight,” UCLA should have acted to “immediately remove” a campus pro-Palestinian encampment “if and when the safety of our community was put at risk.”

Block, who is Jewish, said that “as a public university, UCLA is subject to a dual legal mandate: We have a legal obligation under the 1st Amendment to protect free speech on campus, as well as a legal obligation under federal law to protect students from discrimination and harassment. This balance is not always easy to achieve.”

The chancellor faced one of his toughest moments when questioned by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) about the night of violence on April 30 at the UCLA encampment. Omar said the images from UCLA were “appalling,” but even worse was “that it was completely preventable.”

The Democratic congresswoman told him multiple times that he should be “ashamed” for the injuries that took place under his watch.

“You, the UCLA leadership and law enforcement stood by for hours as the mob of agitators gathered near the encampment with a clear intention to cause violence,” she said. “I would like to know if you are truly committed to keeping your students safe. How did you fail these students at many critical points where you could’ve intervened?”

“I’m sorry, but I reject the premise,” Block replied after thanking Omar for the question. He said that UCLA is working with the Los Angeles Police Department to identify attackers, and that the university had “tried to to get police there as quickly as possible.”

Block was also asked about the current protests.

“There are no encampments,” he said shortly before 8 a.m. — just as new encampment went up outside Kerckhoff Hall at UCLA.

Amid a show of police in riot gear, the small camp was dismantled by 2 p.m.

The camp was timed to coincide with Block’s testimony, as was an announcement that unionized UCLA academic workers would strike Tuesday, saying the university had violated their rights to free speech when the large encampment was dismantled by police on May 2 and about 200 people were arrested.

Republicans brought up a viral video and news reports about Jewish students who complained that UCLA activists had set up checkpoints restricting access to the encampment area after it went up on April 25.

Some have told The Times that they felt intimidated as activists blocked pathways, while other Jewish students who helped set up the encampment argued that the camp was not antisemitic, but anti-Zionist.

“Why did you fail to immediately clear these checkpoints?” committee Chair Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) asked Block.

Block said he issued instructions to staff to make sure that all the students could freely pass without obstruction and then sent out a campus-wide memo on April 30, telling students that the university would not tolerate the blocking of access to parts of campus.

“Did it stop as a result of what you said?” Foxx asked.

“I believe it did,” he said.

He was later questioned again on the matter by California’s Rep. Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin).

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Traveling for Memorial Day? Expect 3 million on the road and gas over $5 a gallon

At least 2.9 million Southern California travelers are expected to hit the road this Memorial Day weekend despite higher prices at the pump.

Those traveling by car are a big part of the overall 3.5 million in the Southland who are expected to get away between Thursday and Monday — a record, according to a forecast by the Automobile Club of Southern California. The number of people driving to their destination is a 4.5% increase from last year.

Nationally, 43.8 million Americans are expected to travel this year, a 4.1% uptick from 2023.

Typically, travel trends over Memorial Day are an indication of what’s to come for summer, so there could be more records ahead, said Doug Shupe, a regional spokesperson for AAA.

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The increased number of travelers is a sign that people need a break and are wanting to get out and connect, even though the cost of goods and services is higher these days, he said.

“What we typically see in these travel forecasts is people prioritize travel in their budgets,” Shupe said.

And a big part of that budget this year is allocating enough funds for filling their gas tanks.

California’s gas price average is $5.17 — nearly $2 more than the national average of $3.61.

In the Los Angeles-Long Beach metro area, a gallon of regular self-serve gasoline costs just under the state average: $5.13. This time last year, the price was $4.86.

In a bit of good news, prices have been dropping since last week, when the cost was $5.22.

But don’t get too excited, Shupe said, noting that gas costs may creep up further.

“What we don’t know is the wild card of crude oil,” he said. “Unlike last year there are two wars, in the Middle East and Ukraine, and that can cause some turmoil in the oil market.”

Despite the tensions overseas, the potentially volatile effect on crude oil prices has been kept in check by spare production, according to recent U.S. Energy Information Administration projections. If holders choose to use it, the spare crude oil supply can be available to the market in the event of short-term disruptions.

Historically, gas prices tend to rise gradually in the spring and peak in late summer, when people drive more frequently, according to the EIA.

California’s prices also are affected by the shift to a different fuel blend in warmer weather, a transition that already has taken place.

As you prepare for your weekend plans, experts say factor in fuel-efficiency tips and plan for where you’ll fuel up. Both can save you money.

Click here to read the full story in the LA Times

Why ‘paper or plastic?’ may be coming to an end at California grocery stores

Citing environmental harm and litter, lawmakers move to further limit plastic bags at the checkout counter

For years, “paper or plastic?” has been the question that millions of shoppers hear when they roll up to the checkout counter.

Photo: Paul Rogers, Bay Area News Group

But in California, that universal phrase may soon be going the way of “Yada, yada, yada,” “Heeere’s Johnny!” and “Send me a fax.”

On Tuesday, lawmakers in the California state Senate and Assembly approved two bills that would ban supermarkets, retail stores and convenience stories from providing shoppers with thicker, reusable plastic bags. If those bills pass the other chamber and are signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, which is likely, the measures would take effect Jan. 1, 2026.

California already bans flimsy, single-use plastic bags at most supermarkets and retail stores. They were prohibited in 2016 when voters passed Proposition 67 over concerns about litter on the streets and plastic pollution in the ocean.

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But that ballot measure contained a loophole, inserted by some Democratic lawmakers in Sacramento who had plastic bag factories in their districts. It said that thicker plastic bags could still be used at stores if they were labeled as recyclable and could be reused.

Now a coalition of environmental groups and their supporters in the state Capitol say those bags need to go too.

“With tougher rules and eco-friendly alternatives, we’re ready to kick plastic bags to the curb and reclaim our environment,” said Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, D-Orinda, the sponsor of one of the bills.

The numbers of those sturdier plastic bags, which have handles and are common at stores such as Safeway and Target, have been climbing, and studies show that most of them aren’t being recycled.

An investigation by ABC News last year found that when journalists put electronic tracking tags on 46 bundles of plastic bags left in recycling bins in WalMart and Target stores around the country, only four ended up at recycling centers. Half went to landfills and waste incinerators, seven stopped pinging at transfer stations that don’t recycle or sort plastic bags, six last pinged at the store where they were dropped off, and three ended up in Indonesia and Malaysia, where some U.S. trash is shipped for processing.

Cal Recycle, the state agency that tracks garbage going to landfills, found that in 2014, there were 83,000 tons of plastic bags in the state’s waste stream. After the statewide grocery ban passed, that number fell to 67,000 tons. But by 2021, it had shot up to 139,000 tons.

Part of the reason is that the bags became cheaper to produce; also, Newsom’s administration banned people from bringing their own cloth bags to stores in 2020 when the COVID pandemic first began, over fears that the virus could be transmitted by the bags. Later studies found it couldn’t.

“It seemed that behavior sort of shifted, and that led to more plastic use,” said Nate Rose, a spokesman for the California Grocers Association, which supports the bills. “Looking back, we knew so little about COVID and how it was spread.”

He noted that some store chains, including Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, already provide only paper bags at the checkout. The grocery industry has faced several lawsuits from consumers who say the thick plastic bags are not really recyclable, as the stores claim.

“It won’t be a drastically different shopping scenario,” Rose said. “There are still going to be paper bags available, and you can bring your own bags from home. It should be a smooth transition.”

The two bills are SB 1053, by Sen. Catherine Blakespear, D-Encinitas, which passed the state Senate by a 30-7 vote, and AB 2236, by Bauer-Kahan, which passed the Assembly by a 51-7 vote. Newsom has not said how he will act on the bills, but he has signed others in recent years to strengthen recycling laws.

Some lawmakers say the measures are the latest example of California behaving like a “nanny state.”

“There are too many mandates on what people can and can’t do,” said Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher, R-Chico. “What kind of car they can drive, things like that. I don’t see there’s a big need for it. Let people make the decisions they want to make.”

Two other states, New York and New Jersey, have also banned the thicker reusable plastic grocery bags over environmental concerns.

Click here to read the full article in the Mercury News

Reparations proposals for Black Californians advance to state Assembly

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The California Senate advanced a set of ambitious reparations proposals Tuesday, including legislation that would create an agency to help Black families research their family lineage and confirm their eligibility for any future restitution passed by the state.

Lawmakers also passed bills to create a fund for reparations programs and compensate Black families for property that the government unjustly seized from them using eminent domain. The proposals now head to the state Assembly.

State Sen. Steven Bradford, a Los Angeles-area Democrat, said California “bears great responsibility” to atone for injustices against Black Californians.

“If you can inherit generational wealth, you can inherit generational debt,” Bradford said. “Reparations is a debt that’s owed to descendants of slavery.”

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The proposals, which passed largely along party lines, are part of a slate of bills inspired by recommendations from a first-in-the-nation task force that spent two years studying how the state could atone for its legacy of racism and discrimination against African Americans. Lawmakers did not introduce a proposal this year to provide widespread payments to descendants of enslaved Black people, which has frustrated many reparations advocates.

In the U.S. Congress, a bill to study reparations for African Americans that was first introduced in the 1980s has stalled. Illinois and New York state passed laws recently to study reparations, but no other state has gotten further along than California in its consideration of reparations proposals for Black Americans.

Click here to read the full article in AP News

California could require age verification to visit porn sites

Republican Assemblymember Juan Alanis, a former Stanislaus County sheriff’s sergeant, and San Ramon Democrat Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, a women’s rights advocate, may not have a lot in common. 

 Illustration by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters; iStock

But last week they stood on the floor of the California Assembly and persuaded their colleagues to advance legislation that would have California join a handful of conservative states in passing laws requiring pornography sites to verify the ages of visitors to ensure they’re adults. 

“This bill is not about harming the adult entertainment industry or attacking those that work for it,” said Alanis, a former crimes-against-children detective. “This bill is simply about protecting children – and the harmful exposure to increasingly available and increasingly violent sexual material online.”

Bauer-Kahan, a leading women’s rights advocate in the Legislature, told her Assembly colleagues that research shows 40% of college-aged women have reported being choked during sexual encounters, something she said their partners learned from watching porn. 

“We may think this is a purity issue, but it goes well beyond that,” she said. “It is about the safety of our children. It is about making sure that they learn healthy behaviors.”

Their arguments resonated. None of the 80 members of the Assembly voted against Alanis’s Assembly Bill 3080, though 15 were listed as not voting. As CalMatters reported, lawmakers regularly decline to vote to avoid going on record against a controversial bill. 

Under the bill, porn sites would need to take “reasonable steps” to verify a user is an adult, such as using age-verification software or having the user provide the site a credit card or government-issued ID. The bill would require that any data collection would ensure the user’s anonymity and would not be used to create a record of the user’s online activity.

The bill now moves to the Senate. There, the Democrat-controlled chamber is likely to hear testimony from the same parents rights and church groups, free speech advocates and porn producers who testified last month before the Assembly’s judiciary and consumer protection and privacy committees.

Porn stars, conservative family groups orgs testify

Joseph Kohm, director of public policy at the Colorado-based Family Policy Alliance, told the Assembly Judiciary Committee last month that children regularly visit online porn sites featuring sexual violence and verbal degredation.

“And what this means is that they are learning about sexuality from a perspective that portrays sex as physical abuse,” Kohm told the committee.

Free speech advocates countered that if California enacted the bill, it would stifle the First Amendment rights of adult Californians to access online porn. Members of the porn industry also testified it would reduce traffic to their sites if the restrictions are enacted as they have been in other states.

“It’s a customer deterrent,” queer porn performer Jiz Lee told the judiciary committee. “And if it was enacted in California, where a lot of our subscribers are based, it would hurt our business.”

Alison Boden, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, a porn industry trade group, told the judiciary committee that less than 1% of pornsite users actually complete the age-verification process in states that have passed the requirement. 

 “What they do, according to our data, is hit the back button and find a site that doesn’t comply with the law,” she said.

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

California is on track for another record year spent on lobbyists

Special interest groups spent more than $114 million to lobby California officials and legislators in the first quarter of this year, matching the pace last year when a record $480 million was spent to influence state policy decisions.

So far, nearly $600 million has been spent since the current two-year session of the Legislature started in January 2023. This year’s pace so far is about $1.25 million per day.

The top 10 spenders for the first quarter of 2024, revealed in the latest financial reports filed with the Secretary of State, include nine that have been on the top 10 list since 2005. The only one that wasn’t: Contra Costa County.

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Here are the 10 organizations that invested the most in state level lobbying between January and March of this year and how much they spent.

Chevron: $3 million

The San Ramon-based oil giant continues to top the list of advocacy spenders, reporting more than $3 million spent between January and the end of March. The last time Chevron wasn’t in the top three spenders was in 2011. It has reported lobbying expenses totaling more than $77.6 million since 2005.

The company lobbied the Legislature on several items, including the budget, hydrogen programs, and carbon sequestration. But that isn’t the only institution that Chevron wanted to influence. It also reported advocating before the state Energy Commission, the Public Utilities Commission, the Air Resources Board, the Natural Resources Agency and the Departments of Tax and Fee Administration and Fish and Wildlife.

The fossil fuel behemoth took a public position on just one bill so far this year: a proposal from Assemblymember Laura Friedman, Democrat from Burbank, that would make oil well operators liable for civil penalties for health impacts on people who live in the area. Chevron opposed the bill, which is still pending after approval from two committees in the Assembly.

Western States Petroleum Association: $2.5 million

The oil industry trade group is Chevron’s perennial partner on the leaderboard. The association is the single-largest spender on state advocacy since 2005, reporting nearly $120 million in total expenses. To put that in some context, the SEIU state council, a labor organization and the next highest-spending group, reported $80 million over the same time period.

The fossil fuel lobby testified against two bills in hearings: SB 559, which died in January and would have directed state regulators to phase out offshore drilling in state waters, and AB 1866, which would require companies to develop plans to eliminate all idle oil wells. The bill is still pending in the Assembly.

The group advocated on more than 25 other bills since January.

California Chamber of Commerce: $1.2 million

The Chamber of Commerce spent a little less than $1.2 million to advocate on more than 100 pieces of legislation in the first quarter of 2024, as well as lobbying Cal/OSHA, the Public Utilities Commission, the relatively new Privacy Protection Agency and the Water Resources Control Board. The business trade group testified against a pending bill that would prevent people under 18 from buying diet or weight loss supplements over the counter, against a failed bill that would have imposed a tax on residents with more than $1 million in assets, and in support of a still-pending bill that makes permanent a family leave mediation program for small employers.

The Chamber is the sixth largest lobbyist employer since 2005 with a total of more than $61 million spent over that time period.

Pacific Gas & Electric: $1.15 million

PG&E spent nearly $1.15 million to advocate on issues such as undergrounding power lines and the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. It also lobbied on 85 bills, including AB 2666, which would require utilities to annually report to the Public Utilities Commission the amount spent on infrastructure after each approved rate hike, such as the one approved two weeks ago. Despite PG&E’s opposition to the bill, it passed the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Energy last month. 

The investor-owned utility, which is regulated by the state, has spent nearly $40 million since 2005 to push its point of view in California.

Howard Jarvis: $1.05 million

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association reported spending about $1 million in the first three months of the year. That represents an increase in advocacy by the anti-tax organization from last quarter, when it spent just less than $157,000 between October and December last year. But the spending is in line with the first quarter of 2023, when the association reported $1.15 million in advocacy receipts. The group lobbied on 12 bills this session, including against one from Democratic Assemblymember Alex Lee of Milpitas to raise taxes on assets worth more than $1 million. The bill died in January.

Since 2005, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association has invested $34.5 million in pushing its point of view to government officials.

Who spent the most on state lobbying so far this year?

California Hospital Association: $1 million

The group representing hospitals and health care systems reported spending a little more than $1 million to advocate on 61 pieces of legislation including a bill by Democratic Assemblymember Ash Kalra from San Jose to create a single-payer health care system in California. The hospital association opposes the bill, which died last week.

Since 2005, the industry group has invested more than $58 million in lobbying the state government.

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

‘CA vs. Hate’ Agency Ramping up for 2024 Presidential Election

Hate crimes jumped 33% from 2020 to 2021 – under Gov. Gavin Newsom

Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

California vs. Hate is celebrating one year of being in business.

Under the umbrella of the California Civil Rights Department, CA vs. Hate, a hotline to report incidences of “hate,” held a press conference Monday morning “to reveal new data highlighting the impact of California vs Hate in its first year of operation and announce new and ongoing initiatives to combat hate across the state.”

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I received the press announcement about the Monday press conference, not from the California Civil Rights Department, but from:

Sarah Rudney

she.her.hers

Director, Communications

TaskForce.us

TaskForce, which says “Create Culture to Change Culture,” was founded in 2010 following the completion of the Obama Hope Campaign,” according to the website. Their clients include the “United Nations Foundation, the White House, The Nature Conservancy, The MacArthur Foundation, Rock The Vote, The County of Los Angeles, Amnesty International, and beyond.” Doesn’t the State of California have communications employees? Why are we paying an outside firm to do PR for the California Civil Rights Department?

“California’s New Department of Hate for Snitches, Tattletales and Grievance Hustlers” was created last year the Globe reported in May 2023, CA vs. Hate.

What is a hate act? According to California’s new Department of Snitches (CA vs Hate):

“A hate incident is a hostile expression or action that may be motivated by bias against another person’s actual or perceived identity.”

“Some examples of hate incidents can include: derogatory name calling, bullying, hate mail, and refusing service.”

The claim that by reporting hate acts and hate speech to the California Department of Hate will “put a stop to hate” is patently absurd and merely state-sanctioned grievance hustling – on the taxpayer’s dime – a very big dime. “California awarded $91 million in grants to local organizations that help prevent hate crimes or support survivors, part of an unprecedented effort to combat hate in a state that saw a 20% increase in such crimes in 2022,” CalMatters reported. And we wonder why the governor’s budget has a $55 billion deficit… 

Based on today’s CA vs. Hate press conference, that $91 million was rather unsuccessful in preventing hate, but it employed a lot of people who apparently stink at their jobs.

Perhaps ironically, reported hate crimes jumped 33% from 2020 to 2021 – under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s reign. So, according to the governor, hate crimes have jumped significantly since he’s been Governor.

It’s not difficult to ask “Why is California is leading the nation in these hate crime attacks?” and conclude that under Newsom’s reign hostility, anxiety, fear, and hate are exploding. His policies are destroying Californias’ way of life, and the once-Golden State.

“Officially launched a year ago this month by Governor Newsom, CA vs Hate is the state’s first-ever multilingual statewide hotline and online portal that provides a safe, anonymous reporting option for victims and witnesses of hate acts,” the press announcement said. “CA vs Hate is one key piece of a statewide coordinated and strategic response to directly address hate in California, which in recent years reached its highest reported levels since 2001 — increasing more than 20% from 2021 to 2022.”

The annual report for The Commission on the State of Hate reports that the Commission receives an annual appropriation of $1.8 million through fiscal year 2025-2026 and $900,000 in fiscal year 2026-2027. But they sure can spend money if the $91 million in grants is any indicator.

“The Commission’s vision is for California to be free of hate.”

Governor Newsom signed AB 1126 by Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) into law in October 2021, which established the Commission on the State of Hate, “providing that it is an appointed public body to engage in fact-finding, advisement, and community outreach to assist the State in preventing and responding to hate.”

According to the Senate Appropriations Committee, this bill “Creates unknown, ongoing annual costs in the hundreds of thousands to low millions of dollars to establish and continue the operation of the Commission. These costs include support staff for the Commission as well as operating expenses and equipment, and per diem and travel reimbursement costs for non-legislative commissioners.”

Why is an agency addressing “hate” necessary in California? Bring back the Golden Rule, the principle of treating others as one would want to be treated by them, which used to be taught in school by teachers.

What is the underlying need or motive for all of this hate talk?

Kevin Kish, the Director of Civil Rights Department, said at today’s press conference, that in the first year, the CA vs. Hate hotline received 1,000 actual reports of hate from 2,000+ contacts. “All you need to know is because of who you are you were targeted and need help,” Kish said.

The most common reasons cited for the reports were:

  • discriminatory treatment (18.4%),
  • verbal harassment (16.7%), and
  • derogatory names or slurs (16.7%)

The most common location types for where an incident occurred were:

  • residential (29.9%)
  • workplace (9.7%) and
  • public facilities (9.1%)

Kish said data were examined by CA vs. Hate staff, to determine bias motivation information, which includes the most cited bias motivations: race and ethnicity (35.1%), gender identity (15.1%), and sexual orientation (10.8%).

“Data should not be treated as representative of all acts of hate,” Kish added as an interesting disclaimer.

Yet the Commission says in the annual report, “The Commission is relying on two sources of information in this regard. First, it is investing in reviewing and procuring rigorous empirical research to create a fuller and more nuanced understanding of hate activity in California and how to prevent it.”

How to prevent hate?

From the annual report:

“This includes: understanding the types of data and information being collected across
governmental entities and non-governmental organizations today; systematically reviewing and synthesizing existing research; partnering with subject-matter research experts, including academics, community organizations, law enforcement, and CRD staff; evaluating existing programs and policies in light of the evidence base that exists to identify effective or promising initiatives; and procuring original research studies to address high-priority knowledge gaps.”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

Disneyland character and parade performers in California vote to join labor union

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Disneyland performers who help bring Mickey Mouse, Cinderella and other beloved characters to life at the Southern California resort chose to unionize following a three-day vote culminating on Saturday.

The Actors’ Equity Association labor union said in a statement Saturday that cast members for the parades and characters departments at Disney’s theme parks near Los Angeles voted by a wide margin for the union to become the bargaining agent for the group of roughly 1,700 workers. 

An association website tracking the balloting among cast members indicated passage by 78.7% (953 votes) in favor and 21.3% (258 votes) opposed. 

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“They say that Disneyland is ‘the place where dreams come true,’ and for the Disney Cast Members who have worked to organize a union, their dream came true today,” Actors’ Equity Association President Kate Shindle said in a statement Saturday night.

Shindle called the workers the “front lines” of the Disneyland guest experience. The association and cast members will discuss improvements to health and safey, wages, benefits, working conditions and job security before meeting with Walt Disney Company representatives about negotiating the staff priorities into a contract, she said.

The union already represents theatrical performers at Disney’s Florida parks. 

Barring any election challenges, the regional director of The National Labor Relations Board will certify the results within a week, the association said. 

The NLRB did not immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press seeking confirmation or additional information about the vote.

The election took place on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday in Anaheim, California, after workers earlier this year filed cards to form the unit called “Magic United.”

Parade and character workers who promoted unionizing said they love helping to create a magical experience at Disneyland but grew concerned when they were asked to resume hugging visitors after returning to work during the coronavirus pandemic. They said they also suffer injuries from complex costumes and erratic schedules.

Most of the more than 35,000 workers at the Disneyland Resort, including cleaning crews, pyrotechnic specialists and security staff, are already in labor unions. The resort includes Disneyland, which is the Walt Disney Co.’s oldest theme park, as well as Disney California Adventure and the shopping and entertainment district Downtown Disney in Anaheim.

In recent years, Disney has faced allegations of not paying its Southern California workers, who face exorbitant housing costs and often commute long distances or cram into small homes, a livable wage. Parade performers and character actors earn a base pay of $24.15 an hour, up from $20 before January, with premiums for different roles.

Union membership has been on a decades-long decline in the United States, but organizations have seen growing public support in recent years during high-profilecontract negotiations involving Hollywood studios and Las Vegas hotels. The NLRB, which protects workers’ right to organize, reported more than 2,500 filings for union representation during the 2023 fiscal year, which was the highest number in eight years.

Click here to read the full article in AP News

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