Bid for crime ballot measure gains support

Signatures roll in for a vote to crack down on some offenses in an overhaul of Prop. 47.

SACRAMENTO — A coalition backing a tough-on-crime statewide ballot initiative to toughen penalties for retail theft and some drug offenses submitted more than 900,000 voter signatures on Thursday backing the measure, a strong indicator that it may come before California voters in November.

The ballot initiative, called the Homelessness, Drug Addiction and Theft Reduction Act, seeks to change Proposition 47, which voters passed in 2014. It would toughen penalties for retail theft and require drug treatment for those charged with simple drug possession. It was largely funded by corporate retailers including Target and Home Depot.

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The Californians for Safer Communities Coalition, the proponent of the ballot initiative, raised close to $8 million for the campaign . The secretary of state requires at least 546,651 signatures be collected by April 23 to qualify for the November ballot.

County elections officials will now start the process of verifying the petition signatures to ensure they were provided by registered California voters.

The coalition said in a statement that California can no longer afford “half-measures” when it comes to addressing rampant retail theft or the growing epidemic of fentanyl overdoses.

Political strategist Gale Kaufman, who is not affiliated with the ballot measure, said that collecting well over the required amount is more of a strategy rather than being indicative of widespread support.

“You probably need [to collect] somewhere in the 750,000 or 800,000 range to make sure you’re good,” said Kaufman.

Paul Mitchell, the vice president of Political Data Inc., said that the ability to collect such a large number of signatures in a state as vast as California “is a sign of having the money to pay for the signature gathering,” he added. “It’s not a sign of voter support.”

The proposed ballot measure comes in an election year in which crime and homelessness are expected to be top issues, both nationally and in state and local races, and could increase voter turnout among Californians concerned about public safety.

The initiative, which seeks to reform housing, drugs and theft all in one, touches on some of the top issues California voters said they care most about this year.

Voters rejected an effort to alter Proposition 47 in 2020 that would have enacted tougher criminal sentences and reduced the number of inmates eligible for parole. Kaufman cautioned that voters tend to forget what they voted on and it doesn’t necessarily foreshadow the outcome of the new measure.

Proponents of the reform, including Derreck Johnson, owner of Home of Chicken & Waffles in Oakland, echoed concerns at a news conference Thursday about the uptick in crimes in his area and the fears of businesses closing as a result.

Johnson said sales have dropped by 30% since March 2023, when he observed frequent “bipping” — a term for auto burglaries — in his neighborhood.

“Our customers are mostly tourists and leave their luggage in the car,” he told The Times. “The leadership in Oakland needs to start doing their job. Our job is just to put chicken and waffles on your plate.”

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

‘Fix Prop 47’ Initiative Receives Over 900,000 Signatures – Qualifies for November Ballot

‘Ever since the 2020 election, there has been an overall backlash on progressive policies in California’

(Photo: Dan Henson/Shuttertock)


A signature collection drive to qualify a ballot initiative to amend Proposition 47 ended on Thursday, qualifying The Homelessness, Drug Addiction, and Theft Reduction Act for the November ballot. Californians for Safer Communities Coalition announced that more than 900,000 signatures of the needed 546,651 were collected, and submitted to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Passed in 2014 with a 59.6% 40.4% result,  Prop. 47 recategorized some nonviolent offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. These crimes included, up to an amount of $950, shoplifting, grand theft, receiving stolen property, forgery, and fraud. In addition, most drug use offenses were made misdemeanors as well. While the measure was promoted as a way to reduce crowding in prisons and reallocate money for alternate to prison ways to prevent crime, crime rates soon exploded across the state. Criminals became savvy when shoplifting, making sure not to go above the $950 amount, with some even carrying calculators in stores to make sure they didn’t go over the felony limit.

Law enforcement agencies, even those in liberal areas, denounced the proposition. By 2016, retailers were reporting a 15% to 50% rise in shoplifting across the board. High crime rates continued on into the 2020’s, with Prop 47’s “get out of jail free card” reputation exacerbating related problems in cities such as San Francisco.

Lawmakers from both parties flooded the legislature with bills in an attempt to reign in Prop 47 over the years, including a reset bill in 2022 that would have lowered the felony amount from $950 to $400. However, liberal lawmakers, wanting to show that it could work on the long term, refused to make any alterations to it. An attempt at the ballot box was also made in 2020, with Prop. 20, hoping to toughen sentencing in criminal cases, lower the felony amount to $250, and reduce the number of prison inmates eligible for early parole. However, because of the George Floyd protests still a recent memory for many voters, Prop. 20 was crushed that November 61.7% to only 38.3% in favor.

This led the Californians for Safer Communities Coalition to begin a new proposition initiative in late 2023. The Homelessness, Drug Addiction and Theft Reduction Act was largely funded by small business owners and large retailers alike, all of whom were sick of the continuing losses in the state and having to pull out of some areas as a result.

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According to the initiative, it would do three things:

  1. The measure would hold repeat offenders accountable for the safety of our communities, rather than putting them back on the streets.
  2. The measure would define fentanyl as a hard drug, hold individuals convicted of trafficking fentanyl accountable, and grant judges greater discretion in sentencing drug traffickers.
  3. The measure would provide critical mental health, drug treatment services, and job training within the justice system for people who are homeless and suffering from mental illness or struggling with substance abuse.

Support for, opposition against Prop 47

While some other controversial parts of Prop. 47, such as the felony amount, would not be touched in the initiative, supporters said that this proposition would be a start and would be most palatable to Californian voters as a whole.

“We’re here from both sides because Prop 47 simply isn’t working as intended,” said Yolo County DA Jeff Reisig a few months ago. “We’ve seen the retail theft crisis spiral out of control and fentanyl is a crisis fueling the highest death rate we’ve ever seen. This is a commonsense fix to have some accountability again. It’s very balanced, very humane, and focused on treatment.”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

Despite Harris’ moment, voters still are not sold

PHOENIX — When a group of crossover voters was asked during a focus group about Vice President Kamala Harris, their assessments were brutal: If she is helping Biden, you don’t see it. She rubs me the wrong way. She was picked because she is a demographic. The big things she had, she failed.

The comments, fair or not, represent a problem for President Biden and for Harris, echoed in interviews with voters here in Arizona, a key swing state where Harris spoke on Friday. More than three years into the oldest president in history’s first term, his understudy has failed to win over a majority of voters or convince them that she is ready to step in if Biden falters, according to polls.

“Swing voters don’t like her,” said Gunner Ramer, political director for a group called Republican Voters Against Trump, which allowed The Times to view videos from three focus groups, including the crossover group that featured people who voted for former President Trump in 2016 and Biden in 2020.

It wasn’t just former Trump voters who were negative about Harris. In a focus group of Black voters who were disappointed with Biden, none raised their hand in support of Harris, with one participant calling her “the bad news bear.” A focus group of California Democrats, while they liked Harris, had to be prompted to discuss her and said she needed more influence and exposure.

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Many of Harris’ allies and supporters say the judgments are influenced by racism and sexism, pointing out that other vice presidents stayed in the background with less scrutiny and saw their popularity tied to the top of the ticket. Some people in focus groups criticized her clothes or compared her to Hillary Clinton in comments that seemed to validate those concerns.

But her low popularity could pose a political problem that her predecessors have not faced, given the focus on Trump’s and Biden’s ages, 77 and 81, respectively. More than half of voters, 54%, said she is not qualified to serve as president in a March USA Today/Suffolk poll, compared with 38% who said she is.

“If there was a health event for either nominee, the VP is front and center in terms of people who may be on the fence, people who may dislike both candidates,” said David Paleologos, who conducted a USA Today/Suffolk poll that asked voters their assessment of Harris. “And there are a lot whose decision may hinge on a comfort level with the vice presidential choice.”

Harris has heard the criticism since she entered the White House to historic triumph in 2021. While she seldom responds directly, she has stepped up her appearances with core Democratic groups, often keeping a more robust campaign and travel schedule than Biden. Many allies believe her role as the administration’s leading voice on abortion rights will boost her and the Democratic ticket on an issue that helped carry the party to unexpected success in the 2022 midterm elections.

She spoke Friday in Tucson, three days after Arizona’s Supreme Court ruled that an 1864 ban on abortion can be enforced in the coming weeks. She framed the Democrats’ case against Trump, who has claimed credit for shifting the Supreme Court against abortion rights and last week said each state should decide on the issue.

“Just like he did in Arizona, he basically wants to take America back to the 1800s,” Harris said.

Several voters said in interviews in Phoenix on Monday that they were not aware Harris was in their state just a few days ago, underscoring the challenge of getting attention as a vice president in an era of information overload.

“If she is coming for us, she doesn’t show it,” said Tracey Sayles, a 52-year-old Black Democrat.

Sayles voted in prior elections for Democrats Hillary Clinton and Biden but now says her choice is 50-50 in the coming election, despite calling Trump “vulgar,” because Biden “looks like he’s ill.” She would have driven to see Harris in Tucson if she’d known she was in the state, she said, but feels the vice president has been hiding.

Another voter who dislikes both Trump and Biden, Jeff Garland, said he has not seen much of Harris either.

“But from what I have seen of her, she doesn’t look like someone I want running my country,” said Garland, a 57-year-old retired member of the military who said he voted for Trump in 2016 and Biden in 2020 and planned to sit out 2024.

Kellie Hoverson, a 31-year-old Democrat, said she “was not thrilled about Biden” but was more bullish on Harris, despite hearing concerns from younger friends and relatives about her history as a prosecutor in California.

“I just want a woman president,” she said. “I just want to see it in my lifetime.”

Studies by the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, which works to advance women’s equality in politics, suggest women face an “imagination barrier” when they run for the highest executive offices, because voters have a harder time picturing them in the job than they do white men, who have historically held the posts.

“Men can tell and women have to show,” said Amanda Hunter, the foundation’s executive director.

Polls suggest Harris, who dropped out early in the 2020 presidential primary, has made strides with the Democratic base. Three-quarters of Democrats had a favorable view of her in the USA Today/Suffolk poll, which showed a little more than a quarter of independents view her favorably.

Brian Fallon, who serves as her campaign communications director, said she “has proven to be a highly effective messenger on issues from reproductive freedom to gun violence prevention” and said she is “uniquely positioned to mobilize critical groups across the Biden-Harris coalition, including both progressives and independents.”

The fact that many voters say they remain unfamiliar with Harris is something her allies and advisors see as an opening, because it leaves room for persuasion when more voters focus in on the race in the early fall.

“This is not a one-speech or two-speech thing, this is four or five months of just putting in the work,” said Cornell Belcher, who served as one of former President Obama’s pollsters.

Belcher argued that the small slice of persuadable voters who give Harris her lowest marks won’t decide the race; it will instead be a question of whether Democrats can rebuild their coalition of young voters, women and people of color that delivered Obama his 2012 reelection and formed the backbone of Biden’s 2020 victory.

“I’m more worried about these younger voters taking the off-ramp, like they did in 2016,” he said, crediting Harris with her work reaching them in college campus tours and other outreach.

But there are questions there too with inconsistencies in polls of voters ages 18-29, given the small sample sizes of subgroups. One poll in early April by Emerson College showed Harris with pretty high favorable marks among those younger voters, nearly 49%, while another poll by the Economist taken a few days later showed only 34% of that age group viewed her favorably.

It’s unclear whether Trump, who has not targeted the vice president often, will pick up his attacks on Harris, who is unsurprisingly toxic among Republican base voters. “If they cheat on the election, it might be Kamala,” Trump said during a March rally in North Carolina, echoing his false claims of widespread election fraud.

He fairly quickly pivoted back to Biden: “We got enough problems with this guy.”

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

California Democrats’ Backdoor Reparations Scheme

‘The whole thing is irresponsible’

(Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

California Democrats have 14 reparations-related bills introduced this session. They are the first bills to come following the California Reparations Task Force’s final list of recommendations which are an attempt to legalize racial discrimination. The latest is a bill to create a “genealogy office” to help determine if an individual is “eligible” for reparations.

The California Reparations Task Force has taken up the affirmative action mantle and will backdoor granting preferential treatment and cash payments based on race. And now they are pushing a new State Agency to further this cause.

Early on in the Reparations Task Force, Reparations task force members made clear they were seeking state payments for being black. Task force member Jovan Scott Lewis said: “Spoiler-alert: We don’t yet know the racial wealth gap in the state of California. This is the preliminary conversation to figure out what we know and what we don’t know.”

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Another task force member Dr. Cheryl Grills said: “Racial terror leads to racial trauma … also known as race-based traumatic stress,” the Globe reported in December 2022.

Remember this: “Racial wealth gap. Racial terror. Racial trauma. Race-based traumatic stress,” – they are creating new categories of grievances.

The Task Force recommended a plan that would have cost the state up to $800 billion. This received such widespread backlash from across the political spectrum, that Task Force ridiculously accused media of focusing on the monetary part of the plan. Another figure of $1.2 million to be given to each black resident was also scrutinized, the Globe reported last week.

Because of vehement opposition to giving any kind of monetary compensation coming from both California residents and lawmakers alike, all cash reparations proposals were dropped. Instead, lawmakers focused on general improvement bills, which they claimed would come at no or little cost to the taxpayer.

Senate Bill 1403, authored by Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), to create the California American Freedmen Affairs Agency, was introduced ostensibly to help facilitate any and all reparations bills passed by the Legislature and signed into law. We are told, if SB 1403 is passed, it would only create the agency, and not implement any of the bills stemming from the Task Force’s recommendations.

“This is a commonsense measure, something that’s long overdue for California and the nation,” said Senator Steven Bradford.

There is nothing common sense about the plan or proposed state agency.

The bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.

This is how Democrats get dubious issues passed – it’s the camel’s nose under the tent. The Judiciary Committees, as well as Public Safety Committees, have become committees where good bills go to die, and where the most radical bills are lauded.

“This looks like the kind of bill Governor Newsom is going to want to veto,” Gail Heriot, Professor of Law at University of San Diego told the Globe Tuesday. “If California creates a bureaucracy to administer reparations, the pressure to implement the Task Force’s extravagant recommendations will get stronger and stronger—like a train rolling downhill.  Even if those recommendations were a good idea (which they aren’t), California cannot come close to affording them.  The whole thing is irresponsible.”

SB 1403 Senate Judiciary bill analysis reports:

In 2020, the Legislature passed, and the Governor signed, SB 3121 (Weber, Ch. 319, Stats. 2020), which established the first-in-the nation Task Force to study and develop reparations proposals for California’s role in accommodating and facilitating slavery, perpetuating the vestiges of enslavement, enforcing state-sanctioned discrimination, and permitting pervasive, systematic structures of discrimination against African Americans.

The bill [SB 1403] also establishes, within the Agency, a Genealogy Office and an Office of Legal Affairs to carry out certain tasks, including determining how to establish eligibility for programs which may be adopted to provide restitution specifically to the descendants of chattel enslaved persons and free Black persons living in the United States prior to the end of the 19th century. The author has proposed amendments to the bill’s definition of “descendants,” which are set forth in Part 5 of this analysis.

Here is Part 5 of this analysis in which the definition of a descendant is changed:

The author proposes the following amendments to the bill’s definition of “descendants,” which will harmonize the definition with the one in SB 1331 (Bradford, 2024). Deletions are in strikethrough and additions are in bold/underline, and the changes are subject to any nonsubstantive changes the Office of Legislative Counsel may make.

Amendment

At page 2, in lines 12-14, modify as follows: (b) “Descendants” means African American descendants of a an African American chattel enslaved person in the United States or descendants of a free Black person living in the United States prior to the end of the 19th century.

The newest definition of descendent is shameless and just plain embarrassing for California.

As the Globe reported last August, “reparations of any type are likely violations of Proposition 209, recently reinforced by a second statewide vote. Those omissions are additional illustrations that the Cal DOJ has been converted from a major law enforcement agency into a slimy major political enforcement agency, and can never be trusted.”

“Members of the Reparations Commission that controlled creation of the reparations report were far from diverse in ethnic or ideological makeup, illustrating the pre-ordained ‘loaded dice’ outcome, that would never be allowed on a jury in a California court.” 

The final report of the California Reparations Task Force outlined a very long list of more than 100 recommendations on how descendants of slaves in California could receive some form of compensation. You can read the list here.

As the Globe reported in January 2023, both the San Francisco African American Reparations Advisory Committee and State Reparations Task Force are expanding reparations beyond slavery. It’s become a cash grab and hustle for all grievances. But where does this end?

And what laws will reparations run up against?

Proposition 209, a ban on affirmative action and race based preferences, was passed by California voters in 1996, and prohibits discrimination or preferential treatment by the state, public universities, public employment, or other public entities, and banned affirmative action policies.

In 2020, voters even reaffirmed the ban on affirmative action policies and practices by voting down Proposition 16, 57% to 42%. Prop. 16 qualified for the ballot when ACA 5, authored by then-Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), was passed by the California legislature in 2020. If passed, Prop. 16 would have repealed Proposition 209.

However, as we reported in January, both the San Francisco and state Reparations committees are seriously neglecting the state’s rich ethnic history, favoring race hustling instead. California was not

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

California’s Senate Democrats Reject Bill to Make Purchasing a Child for Sex a Felony

Democrats rejected Grove’s proposal to make the buying of children for sex a prison felony, and blindsided her and hijacked her bill when they forced hostile amendments

You read that headline right.

California State Senator Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) authored Senate Bill 1414 – a bipartisan measure to strengthen protections for minor victims by making the act of soliciting, agreeing to engage in or engaging in any form of commercial sex with a child a felony offense, with sex offender registry required on repeat offenses.

Notably, Grove’s bill was jointly authored by Democrat Senators Anna Caballero (D-Merced) and Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park).

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According to Sen. Grove:

“SB 1414 states that any individual who solicits, agrees to engage in, or engages in any act of commercial sex with a minor will face felony charges. If passed, this law will hold these offenders accountable under strict liability (meaning buyers can’t just claim they thought the child was of age) and they will face imprisonment in the state prison, along with fines up to $25,000 and mandatory registration as a sex offender. We must continue to shed light on the darkness of human trafficking, bring justice and protection to those who are most vulnerable. We are sending a clear message with SB 1414– Not one more child should have to suffer at the hands of those who seek to exploit and harm them.”

Remember, it was California’s Democrats who voted last July 2023 to kill another bill by Sen. Grove, to make child sex trafficking a felony once again in the state. In “California Assembly Democrats Block Bill to Fight Sex Trafficking of Minors,” the Globe reported that Grove’s bill, Senate Bill 14 was blocked in the Assembly Public Safety Committee by Democrats, after passing unanimously in the Senate.

Public outrage and articles like ours put enough pressure on Assembly Democrats that they were shamed into calling for a re-vote on SB 14 and passed it. and Gov. Newsom signaled that he would sign the bill, which he did in September 2023.

As we explained at the time, human trafficking was defined as a “non-serious” crime because of Proposition 57 passed in 2016, which meant the act of human trafficking could no longer be considered a strike under California’s Three Strikes law.

There is a plethora of history like this with California’s Democrat lawmakers.

Six proposed bills in 2018-19 would have corrected unclear language and serious flaws in Proposition 57, passed in 2016 by voters, which reclassified many serious heinous crimes as “non-serious.” The initiative specified early parole for persons who committed non-violent offenses. However, the initiative never specified what is considered a non-violent felony.

But all 6 bills were killed by Democrats. Ironically, most of the bills were killed in Assembly or Senate Public Safety committees, just as SB 14 was.

And notably, the main stream media attempted to make Gov. Gavin Newsom the hero when he signaled he’d step in and help the bill along.

Did they forget Gov. Newsom signed Senate Bill 145 by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) to protect sex offenders who have sex with minors – a bill passed by Democrats in the California Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom? More on this bill below.

Sen. Grove sent out a statement after the hearing Tuesday explaining the takeover:

“Instead of voting on Senator Grove’s bill as proposed, members of the committee instead forced hostile amendments and voted the bill out of committee without Senator Grove’s consent. Now, instead of making the purchase of all children a felony, the committee has made the solicitation or purchase of children for sex punishable by a wobbler, which can still be charged as a misdemeanor, punishable by as little as 2 days in jail or up to a $10,000 fine.

A felony can only be charged if the child solicited or purchased was 15 years old or younger, and unfortunately, the buyer would still be ineligible for prison. If a buyer has a previous conviction of purchasing a child under 16 years old and is convicted on a second offense of buying child under 16 years old and the victim and buyer are more than 10 years apart in age, only then would the buyer have to register as a tier one sex offender (10-years).

This bill would instead make all solicitation of a minor a state prison felony offense with a penalty of two, three or four years in state prison, and/or a fine not exceeding $25,000, regardless of whether the defendant knew or should have known the person was a minor. In doing so, this bill lowers the bar as to what must be proven to obtain a criminal conviction while at the same time increasing the punishment under the statute to a state prison felony.”

The ghoulish Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) actually attempted to offer cover for buying and selling sex:

“Selling sex has been within human cultures for millennia. It is a very difficult area of law to get into.”

Really? Can Skinner be serious? She is, and is also an advocate of abortion and the author of SB 345 which provides legal protections for medication abortions and “gender-affirming care” – dangerous, irreversible hormone treatments for gender-confused “trans” persons.

But then Sen. Skinner pulled a trick out of Sen. Wiener’s playbook – she proposed a ten-year age gap – as is the case in Wiener’s SB 145 – between the adult and the minor child.

And Sen. Skinner claimed Grove’s bill was just too overarching… Because Grove says “buying sex from a child is a serious crime and should be a felony.”

I’m not sure how that is just too broad and overarching.

“I’m incredibly disappointed that not only did my colleagues reject my proposal to make the buying of children for sex a prison felony, but that I was blindsided when they amended my bill without my consent,” said Senator Grove.

Grove’s bill was hijacked by Democrats and hostile amendments were forced on her bill. And then Democrats passed the modified bill.

“Children of all ages deserve to be protected under the law and a simple fine after buying a child for sex is not an appropriate punishment. Californians across the state have made their voices heard and they want this law changed. Unfortunately, the members of the public safety committee continue their soft on crime approach at the expense of California’s most vulnerable, our children,” Senator Grove said.

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

California continues bottom-dwelling economic ranking

At least California didn’t place last among the 50 states. It scored only 47th in the new Economic Outlook Ranking of the 17th Edition of Rich States, Poor States: The ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index. In 50th and worst place was New York, followed by Vermont and Illinois. Although this year California dropped from 45th place in 2023.

The index is produced by economists Arthur B. Laffer, Stephen Moore and Jonathan Williams of the American Legislative Exchange Council. Laffer is the well-known co-author of California’s Proposition 13 tax cuts in 1978 and President Reagan’s tax cuts of the 1980s. Laffer and Moore are advising former President Trump on tax cuts should voters grant him a second term.

The Prop. 13 and Reagan tax cuts undergirded California’s phenomenal economic growth through the 1990s. Since then we’ve suffered a spate of anti-growth actions, such increasing the minimum wage for fast food workers from $16 to $20 on April 1. And boosting the state top income tax rate from 9.3% as recently as 2004 to 14.4% today. Indeed, the state income tax rate for the middle class now staggers at 10.4%, higher than for billionaires 20 years ago.

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Including income tax rates, the index looked at 15 factors for its rankings, which for California are: 48th rank for that 14.4% tax rate; 41st for the top corporate income tax rate of 8.84%; 48th for recently legislated tax changes, such as boosting the income tax rate for the middle class to 10.4% this year from 9.3%; 48th for tort litigation and judicial impartiality; 49th for the minimum wage, $16 overall; and 50th for not being a right-to-work state, meaning union compulsion.

On the positive side, we’re in 1st place for no death tax, so your heirs will thank you for staying in the surf and sun; 3rd place for the number of tax expenditure limits, such as Prop. 13; and 12th place for having 483.3 public employees per 10,000 of population. 

A middling rank of 28th was given for property tax burden, at $27.97 per $1,000 of personal income. Thank Prop. 13 again for that. It limits property taxes to 1% of assessed value, plus a maximum increase of 2% per year. 

The problem is property here has soared so much in value in recent years. Zillow.com pegs the average Orange County home value at $1,138,455. That’s up 11.6% in one year. Someone who has owned such a home for decades might pay just $1,000 in property tax. But someone buying the exact same home at that price would pay $11,385 a year. 

To be fair, the ALEC study also provided an Economic Performance Rank, which instead of looking to the future, looks backward at the decade 2012-22. On that, California ranked much better, 21st. 

It takes into account three variables: The Golden State’s economic growth rate over that decade was 7th best, at 70.28%. Thank you, Silicon Valley. Non-farm payroll employment rose 19.93%, ranking 12th.

But all those Beach Boy good economic vibrations were weighted down by cumulative domestic net out-migration of 1.8 million (meaning it didn’t include migration from other countries). That ranked 49th, after 50th-ranked New York’s 1.97 million heading out.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

California Sues Huntington Beach Over Voter ID Law

Law is scheduled to go into effect beginning in 2026

Shutterstock

California Attorney General Rob Bonta and California Secretary of State Shirley Weber announced on Monday the state will be suing the city of Huntington Beach over their recently passed voter ID law, which requires a valid state ID to be presented before voting.

In March, voters in Huntington Beach voted on Measure A, which stated that, beginning in 2026, voter identification would be needed before any election. The measure also came with provisions for more in-person voting locations and to monitor ballot drop-boxes. The measure ultimately passed with 53.4% of the vote. However, both Bonta and Weber vowed to challenge the new law in court, citing that it could potentially disenfranchise many voters, including minorities, the elderly, and younger voters, all of whom may not have a valid ID.

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Speaking from the California Department of Justice in Los Angeles on Monday, both Bonta and Weber announced that state would be suing the city over the measure, saying that a lawsuit had been filed in the Orange County Superior Court. Bonta specifically noted that the measure goes against state voter registration and election integrity laws. He also noted that the suit, the People of California v. The City of Huntington Beach, would address all worries over the current system.

“The photo identification requirement is not only misguided, it is blatantly and flatly illegal,” said Bonta at the press conference. “They have greatly overstated the authority they think they have. They have willfully violated the law, they have brazenly violated the law. They know exactly what they are doing, and they are doing it anyway.

“The right to freely cast your vote is the foundation of our democracy and Huntington Beach’s voter ID policy flies in the face of this principle. State election law already contains robust voter ID requirements with strong protections to prevent voter fraud, while ensuring that every eligible voter can cast their ballot without hardship. Imposing unnecessary obstacles to voter participation disproportionately burdens low-income voters, voters of color, young or elderly voters, and people with disabilities. We’re asking the court to block Huntington Beach’s unlawful step toward suppressing or disenfranchising voters. The California Department of Justice stands ready to defend the voting rights that make our democracy strong.”

Weber added that “This voter ID measure conflicts with state law. Not only is it a solution in search of a problem, laws like these are harmful to California voters, especially low-income, the elderly, people of color, those with disabilities, and young voters.”

Huntington Beach to challenge suit

However, city officials defended the voters decision last month, saying that they would fight against the lawsuit and uphold it in time for the 2026 election.

“The people of Huntington Beach have made their voices clear on this issue,” said Huntington Beach City Attorney Michael Gates. “The people’s decision on the March 5th ballot measures for election integrity is final. To that end, the City will vigorously uphold and defend the will of the people.”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

Transgender rights vs. parent rights. California goes to court to settle school divide

Supporters of a proposed November ballot initiative wanted the all-important title of their measure to reflect their beliefs, a name like “Protect Kids of California Act.” But Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta saw things differently when his office chose the name signature gatherers must use: “Restricts Rights of Transgender Youth.”

Among its provisions, the initiative in question — which has not yet qualified for the ballot — would require schools to notify parents if a child changed gender identification unofficially or in schools records, such as a roll sheet.

With a May 28 deadline to submit signatures — and 25% of the way to the goal — initiative backers must use the state’s description, which they say is hindering their effort. They have sued the state, claiming the initiative was “branded with a misleading, false, and prejudicial title” A hearing is set for April 19.

The litigation is one of several high-profile legal jousts in California’s education culture wars over policies that have taken hold mostly in a few deep red, inland or rural areas. In addition to parent notification, activists and conservative school board members have approved restrictions on library books and curriculum. The Newsom administration and its allies — including the attorney general and the state education department — have pushed back aggressively. Now, opposing sides are facing off in courtrooms with broad implications for state and local school policies.

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“There are long-standing questions about what’s the role of the school versus what’s the role of the parents, and that’s true with regard to parent notification but it’s also true with regard to curriculum like sex education, for instance, or talking about LGBT issues in the classroom,” said Morgan Polikoff, a professor at USC’s Rossier School of Education.

In addition to the court case over the ballot name, partisans have taken each other to court over locally approved parental notification policies — or the lack of them.

Supporters believe parents have a fundamental right to be involved in all aspects of their children’s lives, especially on matters as consequential as gender identification. More broadly, proponents hope to energize a Republican and conservative religious voting base while attracting centrist voters, especially parents, for electoral wins down the road.

Democratic officials contend that blanket parental notification policies violate student privacy and civil rights enshrined in state law and the education code and that the near universal outing of transgender students to parents would put some children at serious risk.

The Chino Valley and Temecula school districts, both led by conservative boards, are being sued to rescind their parent-notification policies. In Escondido and Chico, however, it’s conservatives who have filed the litigation against state and local policies they consider too liberal and even immoral — casting themselves as protectors of the long-term interests of students they see as at risk of being drawn into a transgender lifestyle.

Other Southern California school districts where such issues are playing out have included Orange Unified and Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified in Orange County and Murrieta Valley Unified in Riverside County. A similar scenario has unfolded in Rocklin Unified and Dry Creek Joint Elementary, north of Sacramento, and the Anderson Union High School District in Northern California.

Collectively, these school systems represent a tiny fraction of the more than 1,000 in California, which is why a statewide initiative implanting their values in the state constitution could have such a sweeping effect.

What’s in a name?

Court battles over the names and descriptions of ballot measures occur periodically, with the law requiring that the attorney general affix a neutral title. At least 10 lawsuits sought changes to the descriptions of half a dozen ballot measures presented to voters in November 2020.

In the case of the proposed ballot measure related to transgender youth, supporters object not only to Bonta’s title but also a summary of the initiative that they contend in court documents is “inaccurate, blatantly argumentative, and prejudicial.” They said a title that includes “protecting students” could appeal to voters. One that focuses on limiting an individual’s rights might not.

The measure would also ban children‘s medical treatment or surgery to address gender dysphoria — distress caused when an individual’s biological sex does not match that person’s gender identity. It also would bar transgender students born as biological males from participating in girls sports, including at the college level. And it would delete an education code that allows students to participate in sports “irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.”

The current name, Restricts Rights of Transgender Youth, has made it harder to get signatures and attract donors to pay for signature-gathering, said lead proponent Jonathan Zachreson, who must collect 546,651 signatures from registered votes. He said he is reasonably confident the measure will qualify.

“Talking to our volunteers, we realized it did have a detrimental impact,” said Zachreson.

In a statement, the attorney general’s office defended its title and summary: “We take this responsibility seriously and stand by our title and summary for this measure. However, we cannot comment on pending litigation.”

Defenders of the attorney general’s language include parent and former teacher Kristi Hirst, leader of Our Schools USA, which is based in Chino and has attempted to counter the right-wing activists.

“The people screaming for ‘parental rights’ are trying to take rights away from my kids while telling me how to raise them,” Hirst said.

Chino Valley, a hot spot

Chino Valley Unified is at the center of litigation over its parent-notification policy, which resulted in a lawsuit led by Bonta. In a preliminary ruling, San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Michael A. Sachs said the policy was discriminatory because it specifically targeted students who identify as transgender.

Under it, for example, parents were to be notified of any request by a student “to use pronouns that do not align with the student’s biological sex or gender listed on the student’s birth certificate or other official records.” The same notification rules applied to the use of bathrooms or participation in sports.

Sachs wrote in his January rulingthat these policies “on their face, discriminate on the basis of sex.” In California, transgender individuals are a protected class against whom discrimination is not permitted. The judge noted that a straight male student who wanted to use a different name would not be subject to the policy.

In March, the Chino ValleyBoard of Education revised the policy, expanding it to all students. Under the revised policy, if any student “requests a change to their official or unofficial records, parents/guardians shall be notified to ensure that parents/guardians are informed and involved in all aspects of their child’s education.”

In other words, if a straight male student named William suddenly decided he wanted to be called Robert, his parents would be notified.

The revised notification rules apply to a potentially huge number of situations, requiring an alert to parents whenever their child “participates in school-sponsored extracurricular and cocurricular activities or team(s) immediately or as soon as reasonably possible.”

For instance, if a child joins a club, parents would be told. The policy, if followed, will keep administrators busy making many notifications to parents, a few of which would pertain to transgender students, the original aim of the policy.

“The updated policy maintains the district’s original requirement that school administrators notify parents within three days if their child requests changes to their official or unofficial records, but removed language from the policy requiring staff to notify parents when a student requests to use facilities or pronouns that differ from their sex at birth,” according to Liberty Justice Center, a firm with a national profile that has offered pro bono legal assistance and helped map out a legal strategy for Chino Valley and districts with like-minded school boards.

There’s a hearing to set a trial date in early May.

Different ruling in Temecula

The parent-notification policy approved by the Temecula Board of Education was essentially the same as the original version in Chino Valley. And Temecula also was sued — not by the state but by the local teachers union, individual teachers, students and parents.

But in this case, Riverside CountySuperior Court Judge Eric Keen did not stop the policy from going into effect. He concluded, at least preliminarily, that the rules applied equally to all students and were “gender neutral.”

That lawsuit also alleges the board majority is hostile toward LGBTQ+ topics and students — citing the board’s refusal to adopt state-approved curriculum for elementary schools that included a brief, optional passage in fourth grade about former San Francisco County Supervisor Harvey Milk, the state’s first openly gay elected official.

A threatened fine by Gov. Gavin Newsom prompted the board to approve the curriculum, which had been recommended by teachers and administrators and was in line with state learning standards.

The issue is not over. The board voted to move this fourth-grade lesson on California civil rights movements to the end of the year, to give time to find an “age-appropriate curriculum” that could be substituted in place of “sexualized topics of instruction.”

The lesson in question includes paragraphs noting that LGBTQ+ individuals and groups fought for civil rights, including the right to marry, but has no discussion of sex.

That Temecula teacher-led suit also seeks to overturn the district policy to restrict the teaching of critical race theory, which examines the extent to which racial inequality and racism have been systemically embedded in American institutions.

Critical race theory has been another culture-war flashpoint across the nation. The Temecula list of banned concepts embodies common conservative assertions, including that teachers use critical race theory to make white students feel guilty about being white. Many education experts consider this characterization of how teachers have been dealing with the topic of race to be inaccurate and incomplete.

Amanda Mangaser Savage, an attorney with the firm Public Counsel, which is pursuing the litigation against the Temecula school district, said she knows of no other California school system involved in litigation over critical race theory.

The lawyers who filed the case are preparing an appeal of the court’s ruling.

More to come

In a lawsuit involving the Escondido school district in San Diego County, a judge has issued a preliminary ruling allowing two teachers to opt out of a district student privacy policy, giving the teachers the freedom to notify parents about a change in their child’s gender identity. The case is ongoing.

In Chico, a parent lost a suit for damages over the school district not informing her about her child’s gender-identity issues. The ruling is being appealed.

Book restrictions also could be headed toward litigation, especially in light of a new state law limiting bans and censorship, according to advocates on both sides. So far, Chino Valley may be the only California school district to approve a policy that allows parents to flag books that contain “sexually obscene content considered unsuitable for students,” which would trigger the book’s immediate removal until the issue has been decided through a formal public hearing.

Conservatives say their goal is to remove sexually explicit and profane materials from school libraries, especially at the lower grade levels. Opponents portray these efforts as part of a campaign to enforce conservative religious beliefs in schools and to make LGBTQ+ students and their stories invisible within the school community.

One legal strategy used by conservative activists has been to submit public records requests to school systems — to search out policies and practices to which they object.

A Glendale teacher faced a death threat after records obtained this way indicated that she may have shown a gay pride video to students.

Los Angeles Unified, the nation’s second-largest school system, is the subject of a lawsuit for failing to turn over public records in the time frame required by law.

Click here to read that the full article in the LA Times

Assembly Democrats Trying to Commandeer ‘Fix 47’ Ballot Initiative

How dangerous and disgusting does California have to get before Democrats will repeal Prop. 47?

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Insanity is also knowing that Democrats created a statewide crisis and allowing them to claim they can fix it.

It’s also stupid.

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State Democrats are disturbed right now that the proposed ballot initiative to amend Proposition 47 will qualify for the November 2024 ballot.

Assembly Democrats are attempting to commandeer the initiative. “Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) on Tuesday threw his weight behind a package of bills that aim to thwart theft by, among other proposals, allowing restraining orders to keep people who steal away from certain stores and letting prosecutors aggregate the value of thefts across multiple incidents in determining criminal charges,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“There’s no turning back the clock on the criminal justice reforms that have been enacted,” Rivas said Tuesday during a news conference at the Capitol. “It’s understanding the root causes of this problem, which is complex. And for us, each one of these bills gets after those layers of complexity.”

Speaker Rivas should understand “the root causes of this problem” since his party and radical leftists ushered in Proposition 47, which has provided the state ten years of increased drug and serial theft crimes, taking its toll on the state’s residents and businesses. Because of Proposition 47, there is no accountability when it comes to these crimes, theft is underreported and some stores are even told not to report theft crimes.

Despite overwhelming evidence of rampant crime throughout the state, Gov. Gavin Newsom has continually praised Proposition 47, Proposition 57 and AB 109 (prison realignment), claiming they all helped reduce crime in the state.

Yet, California leads the nation in fentanyl deaths, homelessness and retail theft thanks to Proposition 47.

Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig posted this recently on X/Twitter:

There have been numerous attempts to repeal and/or reverse Proposition 47. Republican Assemblymen Kevin Kiley, James Gallagher, and Jim Patterson authored Assembly Bill 1599 to repeal Proposition 47, in early January 2022. AB 1599 would have more substantially eliminated Prop 47, repealing all changes and additions made by the initiative, except those related to reducing the penalty for possession of concentrated cannabis, the Globe reported. The bill sat untouched, assigned to no hearings, even as crime raged in the state during January and February 2022. However, 7 weeks after its introduction, AB 1599 was finally assigned a hearing in the Assembly Public Safety Committee – and killed.

The current initiative collecting signatures, The Homelessness, Drug Addiction, and Theft Reduction Act, specifically goes after serial thieves and drug crimes, and would elevate the third time someone commits retail theft to a felony charge.

Democrats have eviscerated California’s landmark “Three Strikes” law, passed in 1994. The Legislative Analyst’s Office explains:

In 1994, California legislators and voters approved a major change in the state’s criminal sentencing law, (commonly known as Three Strikes and You’re Out). The law was enacted as Chapter 12, Statutes of 1994 (AB 971, Jones) by the Legislature and by the electorate in Proposition 184. As its name suggests, the law requires, among other things, a minimum sentence of 25 years to life for three-time repeat offenders with multiple prior serious or violent felony convictions. The Legislature and voters passed the Three Strikes law after several high profile murders committed by ex-felons raised concern that violent offenders were being released from prison only to commit new, often serious and violent, crimes in the community.

However, according to the LATimes, “Rivas dismissed proposals that would require changing Proposition 47, sending The Times a statement saying that ‘going to the ballot to address retail crime or theft is not necessary, because the Assembly’s bipartisan and comprehensive plan delivers real and urgent changes for Californians.’”

Yeah, right. Be wary when Democrats claim something they are pushing is “bipartisan” and “comprehensive.” Notably, the ballot initiative actually is bipartisan.

Proposition 47, was passed by tragically misinformed voters in 2014, and flagrantly titled “The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act” by then Attorney General Kamala Harris, which reduced a host of serious felonies to misdemeanors, including drug crimes, date rape, and all thefts under $950, even for repeat offenders who steal every day.

Prop. 47 also decriminalized drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor, removed law enforcement’s ability to make an arrest in most circumstances, as well as removing judges’ ability to order drug rehabilitation programs rather than incarceration.

The commensurate escalation of crime throughout California is stunning, and especially serial theft. There is no coincidence that during this same time period, the exponential escalation of homeless vagrants and drug addicts on the streets occurred.

“The Assembly bill package has support from progressive groups that back California’s criminal justice reforms,” which tells you that some of the bills aren’t worth a damn or don’t go far enough. It is also notable that Democrats have had 10 years to address the burgeoning serial theft, drug crimes and resulting homeless.

Assembly Democrats even created the Select Committee on Retail Theft. But California doesn’t need a legislative committee “to identify policy solutions to this ongoing crisis.”

Instead, they killed bill after bill authored by Republicans in ensuing 10 years. And, they waited until the Fix 47 ballot initiative looked as if it would make it to the ballot. They would rather keep Prop. 47 in tact, and create new laws – a demonstration if ever there was one that Democrats have no idea how to lead on any issue.

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

State’s high gas prices have potential to rise even higher

A gallon of regular gasoline in California Wednesday averaged 53 cents higher than a month ago. Will it go much higher?

It’s tough to predict, but the potential is there because a big driver of the price spike is international tension.

The Russia-Ukraine war and Iran’s threats to Israel are adding a new dose of uncertainty to an already volatile mix of reasons prices go up as summer approaches.

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“Ukraine attacked Russia’s supplies, and Iran has become a major threat in the last two weeks,” said Sanjay Varshney, professor of finance at California State University, Sacramento.

An Israeli attack on the Iranian consulate in Syria April 1 killed several Iranian military officials. U.S. officials are expecting Iran to retaliate. The tension in the Middle East is among the reasons U.S. oil prices are up about 20% this year, ranging recently from roughly $85 to $90 a barrel.

A gallon of regular gasoline in California Wednesday averaged $5.41, according to AAA. That figure was the highest in the country, topping runnerup Hawaii by 69 cents a gallon. The national average Wednesday was $3.63.

California’s average was 53 cents a gallon more than a month ago and 21 cents above the cost a week ago.

Local prices included:

Sacramento, the average was $5.53, up from $4.86 a month ago.

Fresno, $5.41 Wednesday, $4.77 a month ago.

Modesto, $5.41 Wednesday, $4.70 a month ago.

Merced, $5.44 Wednesday, $4.82 a month ago.

San Luis Obispo area, $5.55 Wednesday, $5.06 a month ago.

Prices “should normally go down but we see geopolitical risks going up at times with potential involvement of other countries in the Middle East and Ukraine regional conflicts. This gets reflected in terms of higher prices at the gas pump,” said Gokce Soydemir, Foster Farms endowed professor of business economics at California State University, Stanislaus.

While the average California price is still well below the June 2022 record of $6.44, and shows no immediate signs of getting anywhere near that, several elements are still in play that could keep prices at current levels, if not higher.

Doug Shupe, Autombile Club of Southern California spokesman, cited “planned and unplanned refinery maintenance has caused supply issues” affecting prices.

Imported gasoline has been ordered and should arrive later in April, according to the Oil Price Information Service, which specializes in price and supply trend data.

Shupe noted there is also planned maintenance at a refinery in Washington state that supplies Southern California and could last several weeks.

Any refinery interruption has an important effect on supply.

California requires that drivers use a special blend of gasoline aimed at reducing emissions from motor vehicles. That means the state’s refineries produce cleaner fuel.

“Refineries in the state often operate at or near maximum capacity because of the high demand for those petroleum products and the lack of interstate pipelines that can deliver those cleaner fuels into the state,” said an analysis from the federal Energy Information Administration.

When a refinery has to shut down, the lack of supply from interstate pipelines “means replacement supplies of (California gasoline) come in by marine tanker from out-of-state U.S. refineries or from other countries. It can take several weeks to find and bring replacement motor gasoline from overseas that meets California’s unique specifications.”