Proposition 13: Same Song, Different Decade

More than 42 years ago, California voters overwhelmingly enacted Proposition 13 in response to out-of-control property taxes.

Even with the passage of time, Prop. 13 remains very popular among citizens of all political stripes.

Nonetheless, many politicians and bureaucrats hate Prop. 13 because it prevents them from taking unlimited cash from the taxpaying public.

Photo courtesy of Wendy McCormac, Flickr

In response to Prop. 13’s passage, these tax-and-spend interests retaliated by trying to create loopholes in Prop. 13 to bypass voter-approved taxpayer protections and provisions enforcing more government accountability. This has necessitated additional taxpayer protection laws to close these loopholes via more recent initiatives such as Proposition 218 (1996), also known as the Right to Vote on Taxes Act, and Proposition 26 (2010) which sought to stop taxes from escaping limitation by calling them “fees.”

In this tug of war between taxpayers and government interests, the latter has been aided by an increasingly progressive California judiciary which, in a number of recent decisions, demonstrates open hostility to taxpayers. As just one example, Prop. 13’s long-standing requirement that a local special tax receive a two-thirds vote of the electorate has been virtually destroyed by the infamous Upland decision which gave tax-and-spend interests a template on how to impose new taxes that, for 40 years, were illegal.

Click here to read the full article at Pasadena Star News

GOP Makes Gains Among Hispanic Voters Since 2020 Election: Poll

The Republican Party has made massive gains among Hispanic voters since the 2020 presidential election, cutting the Democratic advantage by nearly 20 percent, according to a new survey. 

Democrats only hold an advantage over Republicans with Hispanic voters at 44 percent to 37 percent, according to the National Republican Congressional Committee’s Battleground Survey Project released Friday.

The margin has significantly narrowed since the 2000 exit polls, which showed that Hispanic voters were 63 percent Democratic and 36 percent Republican, researchers said.

“Hispanic movement toward Republicans is real. Republicans are winning on the issues that matter most to Hispanic voters and are well-positioned to capitalize on Democrats’ extremely unpopular policies,” the NRCC said in a memo outlining the survey. 

“But this isn’t a done deal. Republican candidates need to continue fighting to win over Hispanic voters with a message focused on the economy and why Republicans are best positioned to protect the American Dream so many Hispanics came to this country to achieve.”

When pressed on specific issues, the survey found, Hispanic voters in battleground districts are “extremely” or “very concerned” about inflation (78 percent), cost of food and groceries (74 percent) and gas prices (70 percent). 

Seventy-four percent of respondents agreed that parents should have a say in what is taught at their children’s schools — a key Republican talking point in recent years — while 22 percent disagreed. 

Click here to read the full article at the NYPost

Kim Potter Deserved Probation, Not Prison

The governor of Colorado recently bowed to a petition signed by several million Americans calling for clemency for a driver convicted of reckless driving  in the tragic deaths of several people. In Minnesota, police officer Kim Potter was convicted of first degree manslaughter when she mistakenly drew her gun instead of her Taser and shot Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black man. Potter has now been sentence to two years in prison in a case that should have resulted in her acquittal. Had the victim’s skin been white, she would never have been tried. Where is the clemency petition for Potter. Millions would sign it.

Photo credit: Michael Coghlan via Flickr

There is no doubt that Potter made a mistake when she drew her gun instead of the Taser. The question is whether an inadvertent mistake in the chaos of the moment warrants a prison sentence. The answer should have been no, but the jury, apparently with some members initially reluctant to vote for guilt, eventually reached an unbelievable unanimous conclusion of guilty. A unanimous acquittal might have been impossible. That unanimous guilty verdict should also have been out of reach,

The issue, from the standpoint of the prosecution, was that an officer with over two decades of experience with that department, with annual training designed to prevent such mistakes, had committed an offense that demanded criminal punishment. How could a long-time professional officer, trained and re-trained in handling of a gun in such situations, make such a mistake?

The mistake was made, however, despite the training, Chalk it up to the passion of the moment, as the suspect seemed to be evading arrest and attempting to leave.  Potter’s defense team argued that the situation justified lethal action – even though Potter did not intend to use deadly force. She was shouting “Taser. Taser. Taser.” as she drew her gun and shot. Her reaction to what she had done certainly conveyed the anguish of someone who instantly realized the mistake she had made,

A guilty verdict was not called for. She had resigned from the force shortly after the shooting, realizing what she had done was not in keeping with the professionalism expected of an officer. Had she not resigned, dismissal would have been justified. And this was not likely to be one of those not so rare cases where the dismissed officer sues the department and regains his or her job plus more compensation than the family of the shooting victim received.

 Had Potter’s victim been white, the Minnesota jury might well have reached an entirely different verdict. It would have been easier for jurors to acquit Potter if they knew the state would not again be in turmoil over a white cop killing a black suspect. White lives don’t seem to matter enough to bring protesters into the streets when a cop unnecessarily kills one. There might be a flood of letters to the editor, but no demonstrations in the streets.

Protests over white deaths at the hands of police are extremely rare. That part of our citizenry still show the police their respect, a quality inbred from grade school on. A little white kid knows that if he is lost he needs to find a cop to reunite him with his family. A white driver may grumble over a questionable traffic ticket, but he isn’t likely to demonstrate against police brutality. That loyalty to the police was evident in that recent Minneapolis election in which  voters refused to dismantle the police department.

In sentencing Potter, Judge Regina Chu said this was the toughest case she has had in her twenty years on the bench. At one point, Judge Chu wiped away tears as she pronounced the sentence, which was far less than the state’s suggested sentence in such verdicts. The family of Wright expressed outrage at the two year sentence. Minneapolis should prepare for more mob demonstrations in the city’s streets.

Over four million Americans have signed that petition urging clemency for the truck driver whose accident killed four innocent people. Where is the clemency petition for Potter?

Ralph E. Shaffer is professor emeritus of history at Cal Poly Pomona. reshaffer@cpp.edu

Schools Say They’re Caught ‘Between A Rock And A Hard Place’ As Anti-Mask Protests Grow

As students’ and parents’ frustration on masks grows louder, schools take the heat for enforcing state’s mask mandate

Some San Diego County school district leaders are pleading for help as they bear the brunt of families’ discontent over the state’s indoor school mask mandate, which at this point has no expiration date.

Scores of San Diego County students, many who are not yet teenagers, are protesting the mandate by refusing to wear masks in class. The protests have garnered more attention in the past few days, ever since state officials announced at a press conference last Monday that they are not lifting the state’s indoor school mask mandate yet.

State leaders say they will reassess state COVID data on Feb. 28 but have suggested they won’t lift the school mask mandate until sometime after that date.

Families who don’t agree with masks have run out of patience with the school mandate as they watched California officials lift its mask mandate for virtually all other sectors of public life last week and as a growing number of states have lifted their school mask mandates.

Several of the student protests are happening in North County, where the parent-led, anti-mask Let Them Breathe movement began and where superintendents have complained about the state throwing down blanket COVID mandates on schools.

“I’m just really sick of all the masks,” Addy Spangler, 12, who refused to wear a mask at her school, Aviara Oaks Middle School in Carlsbad Unified, said on Sunday. “If (Gov. Gavin) Newsom doesn’t have to wear a mask, I don’t see why we have to.”

To follow the state’s mask mandate, schools are excluding students who refuse to wear masks from classrooms and having them wait in an outdoor location on campus until their parents pick them up. The practice has prompted complaints from parents who say their children are being denied instruction after exercising their right to free speech.

“I don’t want my child segregated,” said parent Wendy Griffin, on Sunday. Her 9-year-old daughter Emily refused to wear a mask at Kelly Elementary in Carlsbad Unified. “I don’t think that that’s right. It’s bizarre to me that we’re living in a land of segregation.”

But according to some local school leaders, the families’ anger is misplaced, because schools are required to enforce the mask mandate on the state’s behalf, even though several school leaders are unhappy with how the state has been handling COVID school mandates.

The superintendents of several local districts, including Poway Unified, Carlsbad Unified, San Marcos Unified and Alpine Union, said they are disappointed the state has not yet released a timeline for easing the school mask mandate. Districts in other parts of the county, notably San Diego Unified and South County school districts, have been much more likely to embrace COVID safety measures such as masking and vaccine mandates.

In a letter to state leaders on Friday, Poway Unified Superintendent Marian Kim-Phelps shared frustration that state officials have placed the burden of mask enforcement on educators. She said educators are exhausted after two years of surviving distance learning, keeping up with COVID safety measures, following the state’s frequently changing school COVID rules and enduring anger and harassment from parents about masks, school closures and other COVID measures.

“Our already-taxed teachers and administrators should not and cannot be the mask police. Students should not and cannot be excluded from their education,” Kim-Phelps wrote. “The angst and conflict over masks have become an extreme distraction at our schools.”

Superintendent Ben Churchill of Carlsbad Unified said in an email on Sunday that there’s a misconception that school districts have the ability to defy the state’s mask mandate, and school staff have been put in “a very difficult position” because they face significant risks if they don’t enforce it.

“Our teachers, principals and staff are between a rock and a hard place. They just want to teach … They don’t want to fight battles about statewide mandates,” Churchill said. “But … they’re the ones asked to enforce the rules and they are far more accessible than any of the statewide decision-makers.”

Click here to read the full article at the SD Union Tribune

California DA paints Opponent As ‘Gascón clone,’ Vows Not To Let County Become Like Los Angeles

Los Angeles County’s top prosecutor has come under fire over his directives opponents say fail to hold criminals accountable

A Southern California district attorney running for re-election is aiming to portray his opponent as a clone of George Gascón, the top prosecutor in neighboring Los Angeles County who is facing a recall attempt and backlash from elected officials and crime victims over his prosecutorial directives that critics say has contributed to a rise in crime.

In a campaign video released Thursday, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer paints Los Angeles as a dirty, crime-ridden city besieged by homelessness while criticizing defense attorney Pete Hardin as being soft on criminals. 

“He’s already announced exactly the same lines as George Gascón,” Spitzer is heard saying in the 2-minute video titled “Gotham.” “No bail. No death penalty. No (sentencing) enhancements.”

Amid a nasty campaign in which both sides have engaged in their fair share of mudslinging, Spitzer has vowed to not let coastal Orange County become like Los Angeles County, which has seen an uptick in violent crime since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

LA SHERIFF RIPS PUSH TO FIRE 4,000 UNVACCINATED DEPUTIES AMID CRIME WAVE: ‘IMMORAL POSITION’

To reinforce his point, his campaign prominently features the hashtag #NoLAinOC. The video ad begins with security footage from a smash-and-grab robbery, voiceovers from former and current elected Los Angeles officials criticizing the crime uptick and Gascón and two mothers whose sons were murdered. 

One is heard saying that “George Gascón has abandoned us. It’s important for you to know because another Gascón-type wants Todd’s job.” 

The footage then shows several news clippings accusing Hardin of sexual misconduct during his military service in the Marine Corps and as an Orange County prosecutor while painting him as the “Joker” character from the “Batman” superhero series. Spitzer has repeatedly invoked allegations made against Hardin that he resigned from the military over the crime of adultery, according to the Orange County Register

Denial of alleged wrongdoing

Hardin has denied any wrongdoing related to sexual misconduct.

On how to hold criminals accountable, Hardin, also a former federal prosecutor, has painted himself as a progressive who vows to combat gun violence and address mental health, drug addiction and other underlying issues related to crime. 

Click here to read the full article at FoxNews

Ousted San Francisco School Board President Blames White Supremacists For Recall

The progressive San Francisco school board president who was stripped of her position in a recall vote this week has dramatically claimed that those who ousted her are “aligned” with white supremacists.

“So if you fight for racial justice, this is the consequence,” president Gabriela López tweeted Thursday.

“Don’t be mistaken, white supremacists are enjoying this. And the support of the recall is aligned with this.”

López and two other board members — vice president Faauuga Moliga and commissioner Alison Collins — were all voted out on Tuesday.

Her tweet included a photo of a Washington Post headline that said the three ousted board members were “seen as too focused on racial justice.”

This headline says it all. If you are not outraged, you’re not paying attention,” Lopez added.

The board members were ousted in the wake of widespread backlash over COVID-19 shutdowns and a controversial plan to rename dozens of schools.

Click here to read the full article at NY Post

With Trump, Against Cheney

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy endorses primary challenger to the Wyoming Republican.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy endorsed the GOP primary challenger to Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney on Thursday, his latest show of fealty to former President Trump as Republicans try to take control of Congress.

McCarthy did not mention Cheney by name as he announced he was backing attorney Harriet Hageman in the August primary.

“The most successful representatives in Congress focus on the needs of their constituents, and throughout her career, Harriet has championed America’s natural resources and helped the people of Wyoming reject burdensome and onerous government overreach,” the Bakersfield Republican said.

Hageman — once a Cheney ally — did not hold back, saying that Cheney has become an ineffective leader and was being used by Democrats to “achieve their partisan goals.”

“Cheney is doing nothing to help us, she is actively damaging the Republican Party — both in Wyoming and nationally — and it’s time for her to go,” said Hageman, who has frequently battled the federal government over its environmental policies and unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2018.

A Cheney spokesman pointed to comments from prominent Wyoming journalists deriding the importance of a California politician’s endorsement to Hageman’s prospects.

“Wow, she must be really desperate,” spokesman Jeremy Adler said.

McCarthy’s move against Cheney is not surprising. Though Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, overwhelmingly supported Trump’s policies, she became an outspoken critic of his bogus claims that the 2020 election was rigged and of his role in urging his supporters to march to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Click here to read the full article at LA Times

Newsom Is Weaker. Too Late For GOP?

The crime issue is teed up for her — and would be for GOP gubernatorial aspirants if they hadn’t buried the ball in the rough last year.

To use a golf analogy, the ball’s teed up for the Republican Party to contest Gov. Gavin Newsom. But it already swung weakly last year and shanked to the right.

There won’t be a mulligan — no do-over — on the foolish recall attempt that Newsom crushed by about 24 percentage points.

“After the recall, the ball’s definitely lying in the deep rough,” says Republican consultant Rob Stutzman, an avid golfer.

Newsom should be vulnerable on the issues of crime and homelessness, two separate polls showed this week. But there doesn’t appear to be a competitive Republican candidate around to take a good swing because the party wasted its shot in the recall effort.

Former San DiegoMayor Kevin Faulconer was warming up to challenge Newsom’s reelection bid this year. The Republican moderate theoretically could appeal to Democratic centrists, as he did in San Diego. But Faulconer felt compelled to enter the recall race and got swamped by right-wing talk show host Larry Elder.

Many Democratic voters ignored the contest to replace Newsom if he was recalled, leaving the irrelevant choice mainly to Republicans. And they overwhelmingly preferred the conservative who advocated zero minimum wage, opposed abortion rights and suggested that descendants of slave owners be paid reparations for loss of their ancestors’ property.

Elder was the showcase Republican. And his far-right positions probably tarnished the party image even further among Democrats and independents.

Faulconer lost to Elder by 40 percentage points. And that most likely cooled investor interest in helping to finance another Faulconer gubernatorial bid.

Elder quickly decided not to run again this year. But Faulconer has been seriously considering it, assessing whether he can raise enough money to be competitive. He probably can’t. But if the awful campaign grind is bearable, he might as well take a swing.

Newsom already has $25 million stashed and has unlimited potential for raising all he desires from interests, especially after his recall romp.

March 11 is the deadline for entering the race.

Right now, state Sen. Brian Dahle, a former Assembly Republican leader, is considered the GOP front-runner. He’s a good legislator who could handle the governor’s job, a likable seed farmer from the state’s northeastern corner.

But Dahle is little known outside his isolated district. And it’s very doubtful he’ll have enough money to get known.

Underlying the GOP’s debilities, of course, is its small voter registration that has plunged over the years. Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly 2 to 1 in California.

But ordinarily with poll numbers like Newsom’s, even a Democratic governor would be sweating.

After several years in relative political dormancy, except as a sentencing reduction issue for Newsom and other liberal Democrats, crime has resurfaced as a hot campaign topic. It could affect state and local races — from governor to mayor and district attorney — in California and across the country.

A poll by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times found that registered voters’ approval of Newsom’s job performance has plummeted from 64% to 48% while disapproval has climbed from 36% to 47% since September 2020.

Those figures make things look worse for the Democrat than they probably are. Since the recall election last September, his approval has dipped only 2 percentage points and disapproval has risen 5.

But voters are unhappy with Newsom’s handling of crime and homelessness. When people get angry about crime, as happens cyclically, it historically has benefited law-and-order candidates, mainly Republicans. And we may be there again.

Only 20% of surveyed voters believe Newsom is doing a good job on crime, while 51% think he’s doing a poor job.

Worse, just 11% say he’s doing a good job on homelessness, an issue Newsom owns after all his rhetoric and the billions the state has spent trying to get people off the street. A whopping 66% says he has done a poor job.

“The homeless issue is out of control,” Newsom told reporters in May 2019. “It’s a stain on the state of California.”

In February 2020, he devoted his entire State of the State address to homelessness. Unprecedented.

“The public has lost patience, you have all lost patience and I’ve lost patience,” he said.

Yep.

Click here to read the full article at LA Times

Democratic Leaders Reluctant To Halt California Gas Tax Hike

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Amid record-high gas prices, California’s Democratic legislative leaders said Wednesday they are reluctant to adopt Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposal to halt a gasoline tax increase scheduled to take effect in July because the resulting $500 million goes to vital programs.

“I certainly have concerns” and others among Newsom’s fellow Democrats in the Assembly do as well, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said. “That’s something that could potentially jeopardize a tremendous amount of jobs in this state, it could inhibit some economic growth.”

The hesitancy by Rendon and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins comes with an average $4.72 per gallon gas price in California, the highest in the nation and up $1.30 from a year ago. The national average is $3.51 a gallon, according to AAA.

Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk said “Sacramento Democrats are tone deaf if they think people don’t need a break at the pump.”

California taxes gasoline at 51.1 cents per gallon, second only to Pennsylvania, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators. The planned tax increase is tied to inflation, which is surging. Last summer the tax increased from 50.5 cents per gallon.

Newsom, a Democrat, in his January budget proposed stopping the increase, at least for this year. That move would cost the state about $523 million in lost revenue that would otherwise go for things like roads and bridges. Newsom said that money can come instead from the state’s $45.7 billion surplus.

“We passed the gas tax for a very specific reason,” Rendon said. “We need to make sure that our transit operations are running and running smoothly. We want to make sure that our roads are safe and all those types of things. We want to make sure that our construction workers, folks in the building trades, are working on those projects.

“If we’re going to halt the gas tax, we want to make sure that we have a sense of what that means to our state and to our economy,” he added.

Atkins said the tax was approved with a difficult vote by lawmakers in 2017 and later ratified by voters. “It’s been doing the job,” she said.

Click here to read the full article at AP News

Amazon Suspends Black Lives Matter From Its Charity Platform

The beleaguered Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation has been kicked off Amazon’s charity platform for its failure to disclose where tens of millions in donations it received nearly two years ago have ended up.

AmazonSmile, which gives a portion of eligible purchases on the online shopping site to charities, said it “had to temporarily suspend” the group today, an Amazon spokesperson told The Post.

“States have rules for nonprofits, and organizations participating in AmazonSmile need to meet those rules,” the spokesperson said. “Unfortunately this organization fell out of compliance with the rules in several states, so we’ve had to temporarily suspend them from the program until they come into compliance.”

Amazon plans to hold any funds that have accumulated for BLMGNF “until they’re back in compliance,” the spokesperson said. AmazonSmile has raised more than $300 million for charities, according to its website.

In Oct. 2020, BLMGNF took in more than $65 million in donations from Thousand Currents, a charity that manages assets of grassroots non-profits, according to documents filed with the California Attorney General.

But the group has so far failed to disclose what it did with the cash. As a result, several states have revoked its ability to collect donations. In California, where the group is based, the state’s Department of Justice warned BLMGNF’s leaders earlier this month that they would be “personally liable” for any delinquency fees and fines.

Click here to read the full article at the NYPOST

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