John Cox is a Chad Mayes Republican

When voting for cap and trade, Chad Mayes attempted to tell Republicans that he is supporting conservative principles, a policy “Ronald Reagan would vote for.” In reality, he voted for a massive gas tax on middle-class California families. The cap and trade vote exposed Chad Mayes as an ideologically corrupt politician who cloaked himself with conservative talking points while kissing up to a morally bankrupt majority and special interests in Sacramento.

John CoxA close inspection of John Cox’s record shows that he is Chad Mayes’ soul mate. His conservatism is a facade, used only to gain votes for his own aggrandisement.

Similar to Chad Mayes, Cox is a devoted Never Trumper. They both proudly admit they voted against our party nominee for president. Even worse, John Cox didn’t even vote for a Republican, instead he supported crazy Gary Johnson. What every Republican knows is that a vote for Gary Johnson was, essentially, a vote for Hillary Clinton. There was zero chance Gary Johnson would win and voting for Johnson instead of Donald Trump put Hillary one vote closer to the White House.

As a candidate for president, John Cox ran on platform opposing the death penalty; a position that makes sense for a Gary Johnson supporter. However, this position does not fit with our conservative pro law and order values. California voters, which aren’t exactly known for rejecting crazy liberal ideas, even rejected this position in the last election. Instead, California voters passed an initiative to reform and speed up the death penalty process.

During his long tenure in Chicago politics, John Cox did not try to hide behind a conservative veneer.  He was openly a Chad Mayes Republican. He has openly bragged about hosting a progressive Republican radio show. Now, he claims to be just a conservative. California politics might be nuts, but not even here are Chicago progressives considered conservative. I doubt even Chad Mayes would try to get away with this outlandish claim.

John Cox would like to bring Chicago-style politics to the entire state. He wants conservatives to believe that his neighborhood legislature initiative would be a revolutionary change that would take corruption out of politics. In reality, there is nothing new or great about his proposal. It is really just a copy of the politics John Cox observed during the time he spent in Chicago.

The city of Chicago is broken up into a neighborhood legislature – they are called city wards. Chicago has 50 wards and each is represented by an Alderman. The Chicago system is riddled with corruption and has brought nothing but poverty, crime and destruction to the city. Chad Mayes Republican John Cox is now trying to sell this system to California as a way to rid California of special interests and root out corruption. I am surprised he has not yet told us that this is a system that Ronald Reagan would vote for.

California Republicans fought against Chad Mayes and the corrupt power structure that supported him.  We cannot now be fooled by a creature of an even worse political swamp, Chicago. John Cox is not a conservative and he is not a Republican. We need to drain the California political swamp and reject John Cox.

GOPers who backed ‘cap and trade’ likely to face more fallout

Brian DahleChad Mayes of Yucca Valley is out as Assembly Republican leader, replaced last week by Assemblyman Brian Dahle of Bieber. But the fallout may continue over the decision of Mayes and six other GOP Assembly members to provide Gov. Jerry Brown and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, with the votes necessary to save the state’s cap-and-trade program on July 17.

Mayes touted the GOP support as helpful in rebranding the party with young voters worried about climate change and emphasized the concession he won from Brown and Rendon, which could make it possible for the Legislature to effectively scrap the state’s troubled high-speed rail project in 2024. But the votes infuriated many Republicans for betraying the party’s core anti-tax, anti-regulation beliefs and for allowing a handful of Assembly Democrats in swing seats to avoid having to vote to extend cap and trade until 2030.

Under the program, businesses buy permits for emission rights. Because of fears that courts would find the permit fees were tantamount to taxes, Brown wanted two-thirds votes in the Legislature to ensure cap and trade’s extension would be on solid legal ground under Proposition 13. Thanks to the votes of Assembly Republicans Mayes, Catharine Baker of San Ramon, Rocky Chavez of Oceanside, Jordan Cunningham of San Luis Obispo, Heath Flora of Ripon, Devin Mathis of Visalia and Marc Steinorth of Rancho Cucamonga, Brown got 55 votes for the extension, one more than he needed.

Harmeet K. Dhillon, a San Francisco lawyer who is one of the state’s members on the Republican National Committee, told the Los Angeles Times that Mayes shouldn’t be the only one held accountable for preserving cap and trade.

“Now, given the fact that six of these [Republican lawmakers] did vote for a massive tax increase, Republicans are going to be very vigilant about these issues,” she said. The state GOP voted earlier this month to ask Mayes to step down at Dhillon’s behest.

Another RNC state delegate – former state GOP chair Shawn Steel – also blasted Republicans who sided with Brown on cap-and-trade.

Mayes, Baker, Chavez, Cunningham, Flora, Mathis, Steinorth and state Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Modesto – the only GOP Senate vote to extend cap and trade – are likely to face heat from conservatives in their re-election bids or in seeking other elective posts. Conversely, they could also attract support from moderate and independent voters, given the popularity of environmental causes among state voters.

New GOP leader wants no more cap-and-trade recriminations

But new Assembly GOP leader Dahle – a 51-year-old seed business owner and farmer and former Lassen County supervisor – wants to the put the cap-and-trade flap behind.

“There are 24 other members of this caucus and they all have different views,” he told reporters Thursday after Mayes stepped down. “There are people in our caucus who voted their conscience for their district, and I support those who did that. In my case it didn’t work in my district, so I was opposed to that.”

Mayes, 40, was first elected to the Assembly in 2014 and began as GOP leader in January 2016. While now under fire from conservatives, he could someday be remembered as the man who killed the bullet train – the state project that’s as unpopular among California Republicans as cap and trade.

As part of the cap-and-trade deal, Mayes got Democrats to agree to put a constitutional amendment he wrote before state voters in June 2018. Under the unusual measure, if voters gave the go-ahead, there would be a vote in 2024 by the Legislature on whether to continue to allow cap-and-trade revenue to fund the $68 billion project – with two-thirds support necessary to continue funding.

Brown and bullet-train backers are counting on cap-and-trade fees to increase in coming years and to keep the project viable. So far, the California High-Speed Rail Agency has been unable to attract outside investors to help pay for a statewide system, and federal funding dried up after Republicans took control of the House in 2010.

This article was originally published by

Housing, Recall and Bail Reform at Top of List for California Legislature

legislatureSACRAMENTO – California’s Legislature is back from its recess and legislators kicked off the session by focusing on two highly partisan matters.

Assembly Republicans first voted to keep Chad Mayes as Republican leader, despite pressure from activists to oust him because of his vote to extend the governor’s cap-and-trade system. But Mayes said Thursday that he will step down and will be replaced by Brian Dahle, R-Bieber. Democrats pushed new legislation that would change state election rules to help Democratic Sen. Josh Newman of Fullerton thwart a high-profile recall effort.

As divisive political wrangling settles down, legislators do plan to address some substantive policy issues. At the top of the list is housing. Before the recess, Gov. Jerry Brown and the Democratic leadership promised to introduce a package of bills to help boost housing supply, given that escalating home prices have reached crisis levels.

Keep an eye on Senate Bill 35, which would create “a streamlined, ministerial approval process for development proponents of multi-family housing” in localities that have “not produced enough housing units to meet its regional housing needs assessment.” A ministerial approval would spare developers from a drawn-out process before planning commissions and city councils.

Local governments are opposed to the bill because it limits their authority, but backers say the measure is needed to jump-start some types of housing projects, given that local growth controls and environmental lawsuits have slowed housing construction.

The bill recently was amended to expand its application beyond big urban centers to include smaller cities and suburban locales. It’s a rare instance where Republicans and Democrats have some common ground, with the former wanting to encourage private companies to build more and the latter hoping to see the construction of high-density housing. The building industry opposes provisions that would require paying union wage scales.

There’s more controversy over two other housing-related measures. Senate Bill 2 would impose $75 to $225 fees on property transfers (excluding home sales) to fund government-subsidized affordable housing. Senate Bill 3 would put a $3 billion housing bond on the November 2018 ballot, which also would fund housing subsidies.

Another top Capitol priority is passage of Assembly Bill 1250, which essentially would ban 56 of California’s 58 counties from outsourcing certain services to private contractors. It is backed by a vast array of public-sector unions.

“While cheaper services and employee layoffs may appear to save dollars in the short term, the savings are often illusory with hidden costs that are not accounted for and diminished services or contractor failures that require cities and counties to ultimately re-hire and/or re-train staff to provide the outsourced service,” argues author Reginald Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles.

But county governments, and companies that provide myriad services to them, argue that the bill will dramatically raise costs for taxpayers and will lead to diminished services. Given increasing costs of pensions, medical care and other employee benefits, these governments say they can’t afford to hire permanent employees. This is likely to be one of the most contentious bills to make its way through the Legislature during the final month of session.

On Wednesday, activists promoting bail reform held an event on the Capitol grounds, thus highlighting a growing reform movement. Senate Bill 10 — by Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys — would replace the current system of money bail with a judicial-based pre-trial system, whereby defendants are released or kept in custody based on an assessment of their flight risk and the nature of their alleged crimes.

Opponents of the current bail system argue that it’s unfair to keep people in jail, as they await trial, based solely on their ability to post a bond. Studies show that low-income people are more likely to accept plea bargains – largely so they can get out of jail and get back to work and caring for their children. The bail-bonds industry sees the legislation as an existential threat, and Republicans fear that the new system could make it tough to keep dangerous people behind bars.

Senate Bill 54, which would turn California into a so-called sanctuary state by limiting “the involvement of state and local law enforcement agencies in federal immigration enforcement,” is another hot-button issue in the waning days of the session. As the Sacramento Bee reported, the measure “sailed through the Senate and appears likely to pass the Assembly with a majority vote,” but “it’s unclear where Brown stands on the issue.”

Its passage would put the state on a collision course with the Trump administration, which has threatened to halt crime-fighting funds to cities — and presumably, states — that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials.

Legislators and activists have talked about other, less-substantive but highly controversial issues, as well. Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon promised in a speech this week to hold hearings on white supremacists in California, which he called “a cancer on our nation.” Silicon Valley entrepreneur Tim Draper, who had failed to qualify for the November 2016 ballot a measure to break up California into six states, filed a new measure to split up California into three states.

There’s plenty to watch as the legislative session winds down – and as political battles heat up for the 2018 election.

Steven Greenhut is Western region director for the R Street Institute. Write to him at

This article was originally published by

Republicans oust Chad Mayes as Assembly GOP leader

As reported by the Riverside Press-Enterprise:

Assemblyman Chad Mayes will no longer lead the California State Assembly’s Republicans, after weeks of intraparty fighting that brought tremendous pressure on the Yucca Valley assemblyman to step aside.

The 25-member caucus announced Mayes’ departure as Assembly Republican leader Thursday, Aug. 24., as Mayes announced the new leader on the Assembly floor. Replacing Mayes effective Sept. 15 will be Assemblyman Brian Dahle, R-Bieber, who represents a rural Northern California district.

“Chad Mayes did an outstanding job as our leader,” Dahle said in a news release. “I look forward to picking up where he left off and continuing the fight to articulate conservative principles in a way that resonates with everyday Californians.”

“Brian Dahle will be an effective leader for the caucus and will continue our work to move the Republican Party toward greater relevance and viability in California,” Mayes said in the same statement.  “I am proud to support him.”

A caucus leadership vote was scheduled for next week. A caucus motion to “vacate the chair” – fire Mayes – fell three votes short Monday. …

Click here to read the full article

California GOP Calls For Resignation of Assembly Minority Leader Chad Mayes

Chad Mayes2In an unusual move for the California Republican Party — which has long staked its comeback on moving toward the center — the state board of the party voted to call for the resignation of one of it’s own, who was presumably sticking to the establishment script, Assembly GOP Minority leader Chad Mayes.

The results of the vote of the 20-member board, which took place Friday evening, was posted on the FaceBook Page of Harmeet Dhillon, who is former Vice Chair of the party, becoming National Committeewoman in 2016.

The vote was 13 in favor, 7 opposed with one abstaining.

Dhillon, who made the motion calling for Mayes to resign, included the text and results in her post:

“Given the uproar over recent decisions and actions by Assembly Republican leader Chad Mayes and the fact that those decisions and actions have acted to divide the California Republican Party, the Board of Directors of the CAGOP urges Leader Mayes to resign his leadership position immediately, and if he fails to do so, urges the members of the Republican Assembly Caucus to select a new leader at the earliest opportunity.”

The vote was 13 for, 7 against, one abstention (Team Cal, the donor representative). The seven against were mainly regional vice chairs, which is interesting. McCully, Caro, Wilder, Willmon, Guerra, Mayes, and Olsen voted NO. The rest of the board voted yes.

Tony Kravaric, a board member and Chair of the powerful San Diego County GOP also posted the results on his Facebook, offering a glimpse into the internal conflict confronting the California Republican Party:

It is done. The California Republican Party (CRP) board voted to ask Assemblyman Chad Mayes to step down as Leader, and if he doesn’t, for the Assembly Caucus to force new leadership. It saddens me that it had to come to this but it had to be done. I pray that Chad does the right thing and steps down…

[having earlier posted]

(…”I take no pleasure in casting this vote but dangit I volunteer over 1000 hrs per year for our Party and expect more from our leaders.)”

The Los Angeles Times reports that:

Mayes said he has no intention of stepping down, and he believes he has enough support to remain in his position.

“I am not going to capitulate,” he said. “I’m going to continue to keep pushing forward.”

What the Times did not report is that both Assembly Minority Leader Chad Mayes and current CRP Vice Chair Kristin Olsen, who are rumored to be having an affair, both voted “No” on the motion calling for Mayes to resign.

The first opportunity for an actual vote to “vacate the chair” — which is necessary for anyone to put their name forth to replace Mayes — will take place Monday when the Republican Assembly Caucus reconvenes after their summer recess.

So far two candidates have expressed interest in the leadership position: Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore), who announced her interest on Thursday and was promptly endorsed by the Riverside County GOP, and Assemblyman Jay Obernolte (R-Big Bear Lake), who has been quietly building support behind the scenes.

Tim Donnelly is a former California State Assemblyman and Author, currently on a book tour for his new book: Patriot Not Politician: Win or Go Homeless.  He also ran for governor in 2014.


Twitter:  @PatriotNotPol

This article was originally published by

The Republican Party Legislative Incompetence

Let me preface this piece by stating no party better encapsulate the values and policies – unfortunately not today’s actions – that have made America the greatest nation in the history of mankind than today’s Republican Party. It was my great honor to be elected to the recent California Republican Party Presidential Platform Committee in 2014 and I was stunned by what came out of the committee – a document that was about economic growth, limited government, families, protecting the unborn, religious freedom and overall prosperity in all facets of life for all Americans and immigrants – legal or otherwise.

Chad MayesThe party of Lincoln and Reagan, the party that fought against slavery, the KKK, and overwhelmingly voted for the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act is at a crossroads … and it has nothing to do with President Donald Trump. The party has lost its way – the national party and more importantly the California Republican Party – epitomized by Republican Assembly Leader Chad Mayes who just supported huge tax increases while never thinking about the awful fiscal outlook for California. Moreover, Minority Leader Hayes has a complete lack of understanding for how California and the United States thrive in our dangerous, geopolitical world.

The best way to describe the disarray of the national Republican Party that bleeds down to the CPR is a recent comment by Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey. He had a candid response at a Town Hall when local ABC27 News Anchor Dennis Owens asked about the Republican struggles with the failed repeal of Obamacare and overall health care reform. Senator Toomey said:

“Look, I didn’t expect Donald Trump to win, I think most of my colleagues didn’t, so we didn’t expect to be in this situation.”

After seven years of railing against President Obama and the Democratic Party, the Republican Party had nothing to show for the over 60 times they voted in Congress to repeal or replace Obamacare led by the ineptitude of Senator John McCain. People voted for a repeal of Obama’s health care law, tax and regulation cuts to bolster the economy, American trade interests being at the forefront of economic treaties, defunding Planned Parenthood, enforcement of our borders and laws along with a more robust deterrent in our foreign policy. Instead the American voter received John McCain’s cowardly health care vote and the other Republicans who voted with him. They voted to be thought of favorably at D.C. cocktail parties and on Morning Joe than what’s best for their constituents and America.

The American public and California voter was also told that Secretary of Health and Human Services, and leading Obamacare critic when he was in Congress, Tom Price had a plan of action ready to repeal and replace President Obama’s signature legislative achievement. Thus far Secretary Price has been silent on Capital Hill, and neither Secretary Price, nor the Republican leadership (led by Californian Kevin McCarthy), or critics of the current Republican health care overhaul have any answers on how to make health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans.

What should concern any Republican or independent is California Senator Kamala Harris becoming President Harris, because of Republican malfeasance on health care reform. Republicans bemoan they aren’t being given a fair chance and fake news is difficult to overcome while searching for health care solutions. Those sentiments are why we will lose, and lose big if we don’t get our act together immediately. Either stand up and fight for Republican values or else.

If Congressional Republicans, particularly California Congressional Republicans need assistance (and they do!) then listen to shows like Mark Levin, Hugh Hewitt or Dennis Prager who consistently interview health experts of all political stripes with answers and solutions to these problems; or contact the American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation or RAND for detailed legislation that can be immediately voted upon.

However, if those are to far right then click on the Brookings Institute website for various plans and solutions to Obamacare – even the ultra-left leaning publication The Atlantic has answers.

Additionally it has been over seven years, and now a Republican majority of not anticipating for someone like Donald Trump to win doesn’t have an idea of what legislatively comes next. It’s mind-numbingly incompetent, and why Democrats will take back the House and Senate if something substantial isn’t put in place on how to govern before the year is over. Where are Darrel Issa, Kevin McCarthy and the dwindling California Congressional delegation? If Secretary Clinton were President Clinton does anyone believe she wouldn’t be pushing her Godless, radical agenda down America and California’s throats at this time? Not hardly.

The Democratic Party is no longer the party of the workingman or women or middle class, but is only about the top 1% in technology, entertainment, media and universities. Democrats are now about appeasing all sorts of anarchists and radical Islamists along with economic and energy policies that will deeply hurt America. The Party of Governor Pat Brown, and Presidents FDR, Truman and Kennedy is finished – the Scoop Jackson wing of the party is also dead. In finality, the Democratic Party’s policy ideas will kill America and a world in desperate need of California and American leadership.

According to the new, controversial, best-selling book The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam by Douglas Murray, Europe is committing national suicide implementing the same polices as U.S. Democrats want ad nauseum to occur immediately in America. Yet Republicans like John McCain and the editors and contributors at The National Review and The Weekly Standard should learn that Donald Trump is not the enemy. It’s the social, economic, education, energy, and national security policies of the Democratic Party led by Chuck Schumer, Jerry Brown, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders that should be fought against with World War II-like vigor.

Outside of confirming Neil Gorsuch – using a Democratic legislative trick – Republicans also haven’t rid the world of the disastrous Iranian Nuclear Deal that hasn’t worked, housing is now depressed because of Democrat polices from the previous administration, and China is a continued menace; but somehow Republican leaders believe passing higher taxes on Democratic-controlled states is tax reform. Moreover, North Korea has missiles that can obliterate this state.

But Kevin McCarthy, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnel, Darrel Issa and the rest of the Republican-controlled Congress seemingly can’t put together a plateful of legislative pancakes without choking them all over California and the American public. Democrats seem to never have that problem.

What Trump proved and Republicans aren’t grasping are Democrat-controlled states and California can be won with a pro-growth, pro-jobs, and pro-American message. Trump won states that haven’t been won in a generation with that message. The solution is to find real candidates for state and federal positions who can articulately convey the message of growth, putting American interests first, and watch the bluest state of all – California turn back to its pro-growth, pro-prosperity roots – that made it a beacon of light for the post World War II generation.

Todd Royal is a geopolitical risk and energy consultant based in Los Angeles.

Republicans didn’t have to vote for cap and trade

Chad Mayes2Last month, eight Republicans in the California Legislature made the unfortunate decision to vote for an extension of cap and trade that will increase the cost of fuel by as much as 71 cents a gallon by 2031. The primary justification was that the market-based cap-and-trade solution was preferable to any option controlled solely by the powerful and hostile California Air Resources Board. While that argument can’t be discounted, it is nonetheless useful to speculate what would have happened if no Republicans supported the deal.

Historically, Republicans have been the primary defenders of California’s middle-class taxpayers. They almost always vote against any proposal to weaken Proposition 13 and for that they deserve our thanks. But there is no debate that the cap-and-trade legislation will increase gas prices. The only debate is over how much.

Republicans in the Legislature should also be thanked for providing the lion’s share of votes against the cap-and-trade bill. But now they are in a situation where they have to explain why eight of them voted for the bill which has created a significant messaging problem. Voters don’t understand cap and trade and they don’t understand what “saving them” from a $2 fuel price increase looks like because they’ve never experienced it. Compounding the messaging problem is the inevitable political fallout. Republican support gave Democrats and Gov. Jerry Brown acres of political cover. Democratic legislators in at least two marginal seats were protected against having to cast a vote for higher energy costs and Gov. Brown secured a relatively stable source of funding for high-speed rail.

So what would have happened if no Republican legislators voted for cap and trade? Conceivably, Gov. Brown could have demanded Democratic allegiance and, using both carrots and sticks, may have secured it. But that would put Democrats in marginal districts at tremendous risk. At a minimum, Republicans could have leveraged their opposition for policies that actually are friendly to citizen taxpayers including, but not limited to, a rebate or broad based sales tax reduction for consumers to offset the added cost of gas over the next decade.

Republican refusal to give in to the type of extortion reflected in the cap-and-trade bill may very well have forced the Democrats into approving a CARB-style bureaucracy with a simple majority vote — which, by the way, might still happen. The far-left of the Democratic Party may have cheered but, for Republicans, it would open up vast new demographics — working Hispanics, other ethnic groups and recent immigrants — for whom just a few more cents in a gallon of gas is a big deal.

Unfailing opposition to the deal by Republicans would have provided something else almost always absent from California politics — clarity and accountability. When gas prices go through the roof — which they surely will — there would be no doubt which party to blame.

But we’ll never know as it will be difficult, if not impossible, to repair the damage and restore the Republican brand. Thus the odds of Republicans gaining seats in any of the next four election cycles (thanks to redistricting in 2022) are now in doubt. And for what? So Republicans can now adopt the losing argument that they voted for increased fuel costs to save taxpayers from even higher prices? What ordinary voting taxpayer is going to buy that argument?

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

This article was originally published by the Orange County Register.

Sacramento GOP channels Forrest Gump

Forrest GumpOne of the most memorable lines of the movie “Forrest Gump” is “stupid is as stupid does.” Eight Republican legislators gave life to that saying last week in Sacramento as they handed Governor Jerry Brown, tax-raising Democrats and environmental extremists a huge victory by providing the votes needed to extend the so-called “cap and trade” pollution control program.

My purpose here is not to argue the merits or lack thereof in the legislation that was passed. Rather, it is to point out how stupidly the GOP leadership behaved as they helped the very radical elements of the Democrat legislative majority pass another very radical bill. A couple of highlights include raising taxes, imposing more regulation on business, raising the cost of gasoline and giving a few billion dollars to the “bullet train.”

The GOP leadership’s willingness to put this legislation, vitally important to the governor and the Left, over the top was stupid in many ways, but two stand out.

The “bullet train to nowhere” was about to suffocate for lack of dollars. The Trump administration and congressional Republicans are slowly turning off the money spigot. Republican votes for the “cap and trade” bill gave this monstrosity a new lease on life. The train – which will be great for anyone needing to get from Visalia to Modesto in a hurry – is very unpopular with voters of both parties. Nobody but the bureaucrats and environmentalists like it. It had reached the rigor-mortis stage and had one foot in the grave. The GOP legislative geniuses yanked it out of the sepulcher and performed CPR. Stupid is as stupid does.

More egregious was letting vulnerable Democratic legislators avoid a vote on this very controversial legislation. Democrat legislative leadership had to twist arms mightily and give away billions of dollars last month to secure the votes necessary to increase the gas tax. Their members representing districts that have shown Republican strength were most uncomfortable having to do that and were most anxious to avoid voting for another bill unpopular with their voters.

Those members were going to have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, by their leadership to vote for another bill that raised taxes. They knew that casting another tax-raising vote put a huge bulls-eye on their backs for fed-up, tax-paying voters. Those vulnerable Democratic legislators now have much less to fear – thanks to the GOP leadership shielding them from a very tough vote and protecting them from the wrath of their voters. Stupid is as stupid does.

There is a tactic called a “lifeboat” that legislative leaders use when confronting controversial votes that would endanger any of their partisan compatriots. If you can snooker (or pay off) a few gullible members of the other party to help you pass the bad legislation, you can then put your most vulnerable incumbents in the “lifeboat” of not voting.

Competent legislative leaders – at least those interested in improving their party’s representation in Sacramento – go to great pains not to provide the opposition with such a life boat. You do so by not providing any of your votes to help pass legislation that is important to your opposition.

If you have members who really want or need to vote for the opposition’s controversial legislation, you provide those votes only after all of the opposition’s members have voted for the poison pill. You do not shield the vulnerable members of the opposition. You force them to cast a vote that will hurt them in their home districts next election.

This is not rocket science, nor advanced campaign tactics. This is politics 101, and the failure of the Sacramento GOP leadership to practice such was dereliction of duty.

In the interests of full disclosure, I was Chief of Staff for the Assembly Republicans from late 1984 to mid-1987. During the legislative sessions of ’85 and ’86, we confronted many “lifeboat” situations. We never, ever put up Republican votes for controversial Democrat legislation until each and every Democrat had voted for it. We never, ever gave vulnerable Democrats the protection of a “lifeboat.”

Partially as a result of that practice, Republicans gained three Assembly seats in November, 1986, bringing GOP representation in the Assembly to 36. This was not because we were geniuses, although the GOP Assembly caucus had some brilliant political minds in it at the time. It was because, to paraphrase the late, unlamented President Obama, we avoided doing stupid shit. And there is very little more stupid than to make life easier for your most vulnerable political opponents.

I suspect that Assembly GOP leader (for now) Chad Mayes and the seven other Republicans who voted for the cap-and-trade legislative mutant are fine people and would make wonderful neighbors. This isn’t about that. It’s about letting the most at-risk Democrats off the hook.

The GOP “leadership” handed the Democrats an enormous gift by enabling the most vulnerable Democrats to avoid this vote. The GOP “leadership” has in essence given “in-kind” contributions worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Democrat legislators most in danger of defeat. The GOP “leadership” has helped bullet-proof the Democrats most likely to lose to a Republican in November next year.

Stupid is indeed as stupid does, and the Sacramento GOP did it up big time on this one.

Bill Saracino is a member of the Editorial Board of CA Political Review.

GOP lawmakers bet bullet train bad news will never end

high speed rail trainWill news about the California bullet train’s cost overruns and missed construction deadlines remain the norm for years to come? Or will the state’s $64 billion project find a groove and make considerable progress in coming years?

These are the key questions prompted by a concession that some Republican state lawmakers gained in return for helping Gov. Jerry Brown keep alive the state’s greenhouse-gas emissions cap-and-trade program until 2030. The provision could eventually end the state’s high-speed rail project, leaving a massive white elephant in the agricultural fields of the Central Valley. Or the concession could end up yielding a second vote validating a project first approved by state voters in 2008.

The concession – secured by Assembly Republican leader Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley – places a constitutional amendment drafted by Mayes before state voters in June 2018. If passed, it would lead to a one-time up-and-down vote in the Legislature in 2024 on whether to continue allowing the use of cap-and-trade revenue to fund the project. But the threshold wouldn’t be a simple majority. A two-thirds vote would be required to allow continued use of the funds – presumably giving GOP lawmakers a prime chance to pull the plug.

So far, the funding has been substantial in one sense but marginal in the big picture of trying to pay for a $64 billion project. After the fifth year of cap-and-trade distributions, about $1 billion has gone to the California High-Speed Rail Authority, with another $500 million expected this fiscal year. But it is considered crucial because it is the only new funding source Brown has found for the project, which has been unable to gain outside investors because of rules banning public subsidies for bullet-train operations.

Rail authority chair Dan Richard says he isn’t worried about a public veto in seven years: “By 2024, we’re going to be deep into construction. We’re going to be on the verge of opening the first service. We’ll be seeing Google and others making massive investments in areas around high-speed-rail stations. The case will be there for the importance of continued funding,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle.

The authority’s 2016 business plan said the state expected to have $21 billion in hand from state bonds, federal grants and cap-and-trade funds to build a segment from San Jose heading south.

Feds expect cost overrun of 48% or more on first segment

But Mayes and other GOP lawmakers are betting that from here until 2024, the bad news about the project will never stop.

Lawyers for the Central Valley farmers and the government and civic officials they represent in lawsuits against the state government like to point out that – apart from court victories allowing the project to continue to spend public monies – there has been no substantial encouraging news about the project in years.

In January, the Los Angeles Times reported that it had obtained a confidential Federal Railroad Administration risk analysis that predicted a cost overrun of 48 percent or more on the initial 118-mile segment in the Central Valley. What the Brown administration has been saying would cost $6.4 billion is instead likely to be $9.5 billion to $10 billion, federal officials warned.

The idea that voters will be pleased with what they see in 2024 could be difficult to square with what rail authority officials told avisiting congressional delegation in August 2016: that construction is expected to stop in the middle of an almond orchard 30 miles northwest of Bakersfield when the money runs out.

This is contrary to promises made to voters in 2008 to get them to provide $9.95 billion in bond seed money for the project. They were guaranteed no construction would begin until the state could guarantee its initial segment would have financial viability without any more train tracks being laid.

This article was originally published by

California has the nation’s highest poverty rate

California’s job and economic growth has outpaced much of the nation in recent years. That growth, however, has not eliminated one of the state’s biggest challenges: poverty.

This week, State Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes called poverty California’s No. 1 priority during a forum of legislative leaders in Sacramento.

Mayes, who represents parts of San Bernardino and Riverside counties, claimed the state’s poverty rate is higher than any state in the nation when considering factors such as cost-of-living.

“If you look at the official poverty measure in California, we’re about average with the rest of the country,” Mayes said. “But if you use the supplemental poverty measure, we are in the lead. We have the highest poverty rate in the nation — higher than New Mexico, higher than any of the southern states, Louisiana, Alabama, higher than Idaho.”

We decided to fact-check whether the report Mayes cited really shows that California has the highest poverty rate in the nation.

Our research

From 2013 to 2015, California had America’s 17th-highest poverty rate, 15 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Official Poverty Measure. That measure uses income levels to determine poverty, but does not consider differences in cost-of-living among states. It lists the official poverty threshold for a two-adult, two-child family at $24,036 in 2015.

During the same period, California had the highest poverty rate, 20.6 percent, according to the census’ Supplemental Poverty Measure. That study does account for cost-of-living, including taxes, housing and medical costs, and is considered by researchers a more accurate reflection of poverty. For a two-adult, two-child family in California, the poverty threshold was an average of $30,000, depending on the region in the state, according to a 2014 analysis by Public Policy Institute of California.

Looking at state poverty rates, the second highest is Florida’s 19 percent, followed by New York’s and Louisiana’s shared 17.9 percent rate. The national average is 15.1 percent using the supplemental measure.

“I think Assemblymember Mayes’ comments are accurate,” said Chris Hoene, executive director of the left-leaning California Budget Policy Center, which has closely studied poverty in the state.

Hoene said the high poverty rate in the supplemental report is driven by California’s stratospheric housing costs. He added that use of the supplemental measure has gained wide acceptance among researchers.

“I think in most quarters, that’s not disputed,” he said.

Marybeth Mattingly, a researcher at the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality added by email: “Basically, yes, this statement is (sadly) accurate.”

Caroline Danielson, who studies poverty at the Public Policy Institute of California, noted that when considering the margin of error in the supplemental poverty report, California and Florida are closer than one might assume. California’s estimate has a margin of error of ± 0.8 percent while Florida’s had a margin of ± 1.1 percent.

“California’s rate is essentially the same as Florida’s,” she said. “California, we might say, is in the top two.”

Several researchers noted that California’s poverty rate has declined in recent years: “But they haven’t moved as much as you would hope,” Hoene said.

Our ruling

State Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes said recently that California has “the highest poverty rate in the nation” when considering the U.S. Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure.

Data from that report, and researchers who study poverty, support Mayes’ statement. The state’s 20.6 percent poverty rate is higher than any other, though Florida’s 19 percent rate is close, especially when considering the margin of error.

The supplemental report is considered by experts the best state-by-state measure of poverty, because it takes into account geographic differences in cost-of-living, not just income levels.

In his statement, Mayes cited the specific report that backs his claim, and added the context that another report, one that doesn’t account for cost-of-living, shows California’s poverty closer to the national average.

Given this clarity and context, we rate Mayes’ statement True.

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