In targeting women and minorities, billionaire Rick Caruso reopens past racial controversies

Californians shouldn’t be fooled by billionaire developer Rick Caruso’s latest slick attempt to rebrand himself. 

Last year, Caruso deluged Los Angeles with more than $100 million in ads promising a tough-on-crimeapproach to clean up Los Angeles. He pulled no punches and blamed the corrupt political system for the city’s intractable problems.

“The system is broken,” Caruso said during last year’s L.A. mayoral debate. “The system, quite frankly, is corrupt. And with all due respect to my opponent, she’s part of that system.”

As an Asian American woman, who converted from Democrat to Republican, I understood Caruso’s frustration with the current state of politics, especially in California. Now, Caruso is promising to do everything he can to enhance the power of the state’s Democratic establishment. Since California is a blue state – with every statewide office held by Democrats whose positions and actions do not reflect independent-minded voters like me – why is his focus on five congressional districts held by Republicans?

“It has not escaped the notice of LA political movers and shakers that of the Republicans congress members targeted by Caruso in the next election cycle, four are either first-generation immigrants or children of foreign-born parents, two are women, one is Latino, and two are Asian Americans,” writes the California Globe’sThomas Buckley. 

Caruso’s campaign pledge to target minority women is especially concerning in light of Caruso’s controversial past, including cases of targeting, bullying and discriminating against women, African Americans, and Asian American community leaders. 

In 2002, more than 100 people demanded that Caruso resign as President of the Los Angeles Police Commission after allegedly using a slur against Congresswoman Maxine Waters, a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. 

“If it is all right for the Police Commission president to call a congresswoman a bitch, is it all right for police officers on the street to call women bitches?” Waters asked the commission, according to the Los Angeles Times

Caruso’s alleged remark drew condemnation from Los Angeles Democrats, including then Councilmembers Nate Holden and Jan Perry. 

“Never in my more than 30 years as a public servant have I heard a public official refer to a female, prominent or otherwise, using the B word simply because he disagrees with what the woman says,” Holden said, according to Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Years later, one of Southern California’s leading Chinese-American philanthropists said he “was discriminated, humiliated, embarrassed and singled out” by Caruso because of his race. 

As Chairman of the USC Board of Trustees, Caruso “dismissed” fellow Trustee Ming Hsieh from a board discussion about the controversial termination of USC Marshall School Dean James Ellis. 

Caruso’s disrespectful treatment came after the Chinese-American entrepreneur had given more than $85 million to the school. USC Trustee Edward Roski, a fellow trustee in attendance at the December 2018 meeting, corroborated Hsieh’s story. In a Dec. 2018 letter to Caruso, Roski wrote that Caruso “verbally abused” the Chinese-American philanthropist – “bullying” Hsieh because of his race and differing viewpoints.

“You took advantage of the fact that English is Ming’s second language to stifle his ability to make his case,” Roski wrote, according to the USC Daily Trojan. “All of us have attorneys who represent us; are you going to silence the entire Board, or just the members who disagree with you or come from a different ethnicity or nationality?”

Ironically, three years prior, Caruso banned then presidential candidate Donald Trump from the Grove shopping mall because he lacked civility. 

“If you want to be in public office, you’ve got to be compassionate,” Caruso told TMZ, “You’ve got to be a gentleman. You got to be professional. You got to care about people.” 

After Trump won, Caruso flip-flopped on the ban, welcoming Trump back. In 2020, Caruso accepted an appointment to President Donald Trump‘s Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups Task Force Committee. 

Betty T. Chu, a former mayor of Monterey Park, is an American lawyer, politician and banker.

Lt. Gov. Kounalakis Announces 2026 Run to Replace Newsom

LOS ANGELES – Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis Monday declared her candidacy for governor in the 2026 election, seeking to be the first woman to hold the post.

Gov. Gavin Newsom is barred from running for re-election that year because of term limits.

“As a proud mother, daughter, advocate, and leader, I know the struggles Californians face and have the experience and grit to bring meaningful change to our state,” Kounalakis, 57, said on social media.

“I will fight fiercely to build a future where everyone — regardless of race, class, or immigration status — has the same opportunity that my family and I had.”

A Democrat, Kounalakis in 2018 became the first woman elected as California‘s lieutenant governor, succeeding the man she is seeking to succeed as governor. She was re-elected in November.

Mona Pasquil served as acting lieutenant governor between John Garamendi’s election to the House in a 2009 special election and Abel Maldonado’s confirmation in 2010 to be Garamendi’s successor.

Born March 3, 1966, in Sacramento, Kounalakis worked for her family’s Sacramento-based housing development firm, AKT Development, for 18 years, building master-planned communities. She was United States ambassador to Hungary from 2010-13 and a virtual fellow with the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research from 2014-17, specializing in international trade and immigration.

Kounalakis also chaired the California Advisory Council for International Trade and Investment and was a member of California’s First 5 Commission and the California Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism.

Three women have been major party nominees for governor of California — Democrats Dianne Feinstein in 1990 and Kathleen Brown in 1994 and Republican Meg Whitman in 2010 — but all lost.

Kounalakis’ announcement came on the sixth anniversary of her announcement of her candidacy for lieutenant governor.

Click here to read the full article in the FoxNews11

Nov. 2022 Election: Q&A with Brian Dahle, Candidate for California Governor

State Sen. Brian Dahle, R-Bieber, is challenging Democratic incumbent Gavin Newsom on the Nov. 8 ballot to be California’s governor for the next four years. The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board sent each a 17-question written survey. Here are Dahle’s responses.

Q: What would be your main goal as governor for the next four years and how would you demonstrate to Californians that it is being accomplished?

A: The skyrocketing cost of living is driving the middle class right out of California, which has the highest poverty rate in the country when adjusted for the cost of living. I will focus our state government on streamlining the regulations that have created our dire housing shortage and focus on cutting the costs of fuel and power bills.

Click here to read the full article at The San Diego Union Tribune

In Rural California, Republican Brian Dahle Plants the Seeds of a Campaign for Governor

With no water to irrigate his crops, Brian Dahle’s success as a farmer depends heavily on the whims of rain clouds drifting over the grassy valleys and frostbitten mountains of California’s northeastern frontier.

But it’s been a long dry spell for Republicans hoping to become governor of California. And the conservative legislator from Lassen County’s fate in this year’s election depends on a break in an unfriendly political climate in a state where the GOP spent years slowly withering into irrelevance.

“This is a tough race,” Dahle said about his decision to challenge Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. “There’s no denying it, but I believe that things are lining up. People are not happy. There’s more money in Sacramento than I’ve ever seen in my entire life. They’re throwing it around — and people are still mad.”

With the California Republican Party’s endorsement, Dahle is favored to finish in the top two in the June 7 primary. That’s the easy part. Once November comes, he faces the grim reality that Democrats outnumber Republicans in California by an almost 2-1 ratio.

Newsom won the 2018 governor’s race by the largest margin in half a century, and the $25.6 million he currently has in his campaign account swamps Dahle’s tally some 50 times over. Newsom already is using that financial advantage to attack Dahle as a loyalist of former President Trump and most recently as an opponent of abortion rights, both political anathemas in left-leaning California. Dahle’s opposition to government-mandated COVID-19 vaccinations promises to be another ripe target in the months ahead.

Newsom used that strategy to defeat the Republican-led recall in September. Dahle, however, said the potency of that message has waned. Voters have expressed frustration with Newsom, as recent opinion polls have shown, including his inability to handle the homelessness crisis and to tame California’s exorbitant housing costs. Democrats have had an iron grip on the power in Sacramento for the last 12 years, Dahle said, so they can’t dodge responsibility.

“What matters today is that California has the highest poverty rate, the highest crime and inflation is out of control,” Dahle said in a recent interview. “I’m going to ask Californians one question: Do you think your life’s gonna be better with him at the helm for another four years?”

Unlike Newsom’s top Republican challengers in the September recall and 2018 governor’s race, Dahle is not a political neophyte.

The 56-year-old Republican served on the Lassen County Board of Supervisors for 16 years before being elected to the California Legislature in 2012, where he served as Assembly Republican leader before being elected to the state Senate in 2018. He spent years working on water, forestry, wildfire and housing issues with elected officials from across the Western states.

Dahle was a member of the Quincy Library Group, a consortium of environmentalists, timber company representatives and elected officials representing the northeastern part of California. The group was formed to quell the decades-long, contentious fights over forest management policies for national forest lands in the northern Sierra Nevada.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

CA Legislators Get 4 Percent Pay Bump

Photo courtesy Franco Folini, flickr

Photo courtesy Franco Folini, flickr

A state panel approved a 4 percent increase in pay for legislators and statewide elected officers on Wednesday.

The average legislator’s salary will rise to $104,118 annually, although several have refused any increases. Gov. Jerry Brown’s salary will increase to $190,103 annually.

The other officers receiving increases are: lieutenant governor, attorney general, controller, treasurer, secretary of state, superintendent of public instruction, insurance commissioner and the members of the Board of Equalization.

The increase will go into effect Dec. 7.

About the CCCC

Pay is determined by a seven-member panel of citizens representing different sections of the community. In fact, one of the positions, which is required to be filled by a representative of the “general population,” is actually filled by a wealthy, well-connected developer from Stockton.

Brown — who is tasked with appointing members of the California Citizens Compensation Commission — has not filled three vacancies in at least a year, which exceeds the 15-day window mandated by the state’s Constitution.

The CCCC had to cancel it’s May meeting due to lack of quorum.

Pay Scale History

California has the highest paid state legislators in the country, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. They are also paid well above the state’s median income of around $61,084.

On the whole, base salary for legislators has increased since 2005. To be more precise, legislators have received six increases, three freezes and two reductions since 2005. To be even more precise, base salary went from $99,000 in 2005 to the $100,113 base salary it is today — after salaries had been frozen between 1999 to 2005.

The two reductions were largely orchestrated by the former chairman Charles Murray, a holdover appointee from the Schwarzenegger administration. Murray stepped down almost a year ago to the day.

The six increases: 2005 – 12 percent increase; 2006 – 2 percent increase; 2007 – 2.75 percent increase; 2013 – 5 percent increase; 2014 – 2 percent increase; 2015 – 3 percent increase.

The two decreases: 2009 – 18 percent reduction; 2012 – 5 percent reduction.

And the three freezes were in 2008, 2010 and 2011.

As readers can probably imagine, the decreases were unpopular in Sacramento. In fact, one former legislator fought a cut — the 18 percent reduction in 2009 that slashed salaries from $116,208 to $95,291 — by appealing to both Brown and the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board.

Neither appeal was successful.

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Treasurer John Chiang to Run for Governor in 2018

As reported by the Associated Press:

SACRAMENTO — California Treasurer John Chiang announced Tuesday that he will begin raising money to run for governor in 2018, marking an early start to his bid to become the state’s first Asian chief executive.

Chiang, a Democrat, emphasized his experience managing the state’s cash and pledged to “build the best California” that fulfills the aspirations of voters.

“I put greater accountability and transparency into the state’s finances. … Frankly that’s how you protect education, that’s how you protect health care, that’s how you protect other essential services,” Chiang told The Associated Press. “You can’t blindside people at the very end.”

Chiang’s announcement was not a surprise; he’s been saying for …

Click here to read the full story

 

More Consider the Gov. Race in 2018, but Not the Senate in 2016

The story last week that state Treasurer John Chiang is “contemplating” a run for governor in 2018 potentially expands the field in what could prove to be a very interesting and competitive race. Already announced for the seat is Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. Former state controller, Steve Westly is said to be considering another run for the corner office. Other well-known names have been floated as well, including both the current and former mayors of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti and Antonio Villaraigosa and environmentalist Tom Steyer.

Democrats all.

But don’t count out a credible Republican candidate. As noted here previously, one Republican consultant said he expects a strong contender backed by influential Republican donor Charles Munger. Who might that contender be? Already discussions have focused on San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer or Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin as possible candidates. Other possibilities include Assembly Minority leader Kristin Olsen or Pete Peterson who ran a credible race for Secretary of State. There is the perennial talk about a Condoleezza Rice candidacy.

With all this attention on a governor’s race years away, it makes you wonder why there are not more candidates with strong name identification willing to challenge for the United States Senate seat that is opening up next year.

Attorney General Kamala Harris seems to have the field nearly to herself with congresswoman Loretta Sanchez making an effort to challenge. There are some Republican challengers as well, but none that have the name ID or well-established positions from which to launch their campaigns.

Who knows — considering Harris’s official title and summary on the pension reform initiative released this week — once again blasted by the measure’s authors — maybe instead of taking the issue to court the proponents will seek some sort of retribution by taking on the AG herself. Chuck Reed or Carl DeMaio for Senate anyone?

CARTOON: Brown Tractor Pull

Brown tractor pull cartoon

Are Republicans on Right Path to Take Back Governor’s Office in 2018?

Photo courtesy Franco Folini, flickr

Photo courtesy Franco Folini, flickr

Republicans will have a serious, competitive candidate for governor in 2018, Republican consultant Kevin Spillane told a conference sponsored by the Civil Justice Association of California last week. Spillane was a member of a panel that discussed California’s Changing Electorate.

Spillane’s certainty that Republicans will field a top candidate was summed up in one name – and that was not the name of any prospective candidate. The consultant said that wealthy Republican donor Charles Munger will make an effort to see that a strong Republican candidate is in the field.

Munger’s name has been floated in political circles from time to time as a possible candidate for high office but Munger has dismissed the notion.

When pressed which Republican might be that competitive candidate, Spillane mentioned first San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer. He also suggested that Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin and former Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner could fit the role.

The distant gubernatorial race was also evident in CJAC’s choice of the luncheon keynote speaker. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced his intention to run for the office. Newsom agreed that the discussion about the 2018 governor’s race has already gone mainstream even before the 2016 presidential election has been contested.

Other notes from the panel discussion:

Democratic Assembly consultant and former labor staffer Charu Khopkar said that labor was concerned with the Top-Two primary proposal because organized labor would have to spend much more money engaging in the Top-Two contests picking favorites among same party candidates. He admitted that the prediction has come true.

While the Top-Two was designed to select more moderate candidates, Political Data’s numbers guru, Paul Mitchell, challenged the idea that the Top-Two has had great effect except in a couple of isolated instances. He also argued that because Californians seem to self-select where they live in communities with pockets of like-minded liberals or conservatives, that has blunted the effect of redistricting reforms to select more moderate candidates. However, he suggested that the extension of term limits would have a greater effect on changing the nature of the legislature.

Spillane said the Republican caucus has become more moderate because it “caught up with political reality.” He said Republicans are on the right path, choosing appropriate candidates for competitive districts.

CJAC’s mission is to confront the litigious atmosphere in California, which ranks near the bottom of states in lawsuit climate.

Originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Gavin Newsom Starts Fundraising for 2018 Gubernatorial Bid

As reported by the Los Angeles Times:

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that he has opened a fundraising account to run for governor in 2018.

In an email to supporters, Newsom said “our state is defined by its independent, outspoken spirit.  When Californians see something we truly believe in, we say so and act accordingly – without evasiveness or equivocation.

“So today I’m announcing that I’m creating a committee to run for California governor in 2018.  Because I truly and passionately believe in the future of this great state.”

Newsom has long wanted to be governor …

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