End of a love affair: AM radio is being removed from many cars

An era is coming to an end.  The AM radio, which made Rush Limbaugh a star and brings golden oldies to your car, is about be history.

“Ford, BMW, Volkswagen, Tesla and other automakers are eliminating AM radio from some new vehicles, stirring protests against the loss of a medium that has shaped American life for a century

Life and times change, we adopt or get nostalgic about is what is gone.  I have XM satellite radio in my car.  I listen to all the cable news stations, the Golden 60’ and 50’s songs, old time radio with stories of drama, comedy and history.  I do not need AM radio—and now, it will soon not be a choice.  Sad to see it go.

End of a love affair: AM radio is being removed from many cars

Ford, BMW, Volkswagen, Tesla and other automakers are eliminating AM radio from some new vehicles, stirring protests against the loss of a medium that has shaped American life for a century

By Marc Fisher, Washington Post,  5/13/23    https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2023/05/13/am-radio-electric-cars/

America’s love affair between the automobile and AM radio — a century-long romance that provided the soundtrack for lovers’ lanes, kept the lonely company with ballgames and chat shows, sparked family singalongs and defined road trips — is on the verge of collapse, a victim of galloping technological change and swiftly shifting consumer tastes.

The breakup is entirely one-sided, a move by major automakers to eliminate AM radios from new vehicles despite protests from station owners, listeners, first-responders and politicians from both major parties.

Automakers, such as BMW, Volkswagen, Mazda and Tesla, are removing AM radios from new electric vehicles because electric engines can interfere with the sound of AM stations. And Ford, one of the nation’s top-three auto sellers, is taking a bigger step, eliminating AM from all ofits vehicles, electric or gas-operated.

Some station owners and advertisers contend that losing access to the car dashboard will indeed be a death blow to many of the nation’s 4,185 AM stations — the possible demise of a core element of the nation’s delivery system for news, political talk (especially on the right), coverage of weather emergencies and foreign language programming.

“This is a tone-deaf display of complete ignorance about what AM radio means to Americans,” said Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers, a trade journal covering the talk radio industry. “It’s not the end of the world for radio, but it is the loss of an iconic piece of American culture.”

For the first hundred years of mass media, AM radio shapedAmerican life: It was where Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his fireside chats; where a young Ronald Reagan announced Chicago Cubs baseball games; where DJs such as Wolfman Jack along the U.S.Mexico border, Larry Lujack in Chicago, Alan Freed in Cleveland, “Cousin Brucie” Morrow in New York City and Don Imus in California, Texas, Ohio and New York howled, growled and shouted out the latest pop hits.

Through the snap and crackle of distant lightning and the hum of overhead power lines, AM radio’s sometimes-staticky signal dominated the country’s soundscape. From the 1950s into the 1970s, Top 40 hit music stations in many big cities maintained astonishing shares of the audience, with 50 percent and more of listeners tuned to a single station, meaning that people could walk along a city sidewalk and hear one station continuously blasting out of transistor radios, boomboxes and, above all, car radios.

But technology moved on, and the silky smooth sound of FM radio and then the crystal digital clarity of streaming stations and podcasts narrowed AM’s hold on the American imagination.

Now, although 82 million Americans still listen to AM stations each month, according to the National Association of Broadcasters, the AM audience has been aging for decades. Ford says its data, pulled from internet-connected vehicles, shows that less than 5 percent of in-car listening is to AM stations.

Ford spokesman Alan Hall said that because most AM stations also offer their programming online or on FM sister stations, the automaker will continue to “offer these alternatives for customers to hear their favorite AM radio music and news as we remove [AM] from most new and updated models.” The 2024 Mustang is Ford’s first internal combustion model to be marketed without AM.

Several big automakers, including Toyota and Honda, say they have no plans to eliminate AM radio, and General Motors, the nation’s top-selling carmaker, has not announced its intentions.

As Ford did, BMW eliminated AM from electric models in part because “technological innovation has afforded consumers many additional options to receive the same or similar information,” Adam McNeill, the company’s U.S. vice president of engineering, said in a letter to Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.).

But many AM stations don’t offer alternative ways to listen to their shows. Even those that do say their audience, much of which is older, tends not to be adept at the technologies that let drivers stream anything they choose from their smartphones into their car’s audio system. And despite the growing popularity of podcasts and streaming audio, a large majority of in-car listening remains old-fashioned broadcast radio, according to industry studies.

The removal of AM radio from cars — where about half of AM listening takes place — has sparked bipartisan protests. Some Democrats are fighting to save stations that often are the only live source of local information during extreme weather, as well as outlets that target immigrant audiences.Some Republicansmeanwhile, claim the elimination of AM radiois aimed at diminishing the reach of conservative talk radio, an AM mainstay from Sean Hannity to Glenn Beck to dozens of acolytes of the late Rush Limbaugh. Eight of the country’s 10 most popular radio talk shows are conservative. “The automobile is essential to liberty,” right-wing talk show host Mark Levin told his listeners last month. “It’s freedom. So the control of the automobile is about the control of your freedom. They finally figured out how to attack conservative talk radio.”

Newsom let CA default on $18.6B in fed unemployment loans

Newsom allowed $31 billion in COVID money to go to criminals stealing unemployment checks.  This included people on Death Row.  Because of this, he had to borrow $18 billion from the Feds, so California unemployed could get paid.  Now, facing $50 billion deficit, he has defaulted on paying back the Feds $18 billion HE owes them.

“California’s projected deficit comes as many other states are enjoying large surpluses, in large part due to a deluge of federal funds over the past three years to fight the coronavirus pandemic. On Monday, Texas announced a record $188.2 billion in general fund revenue and projected it would have a $32.7 billion surplus over the two-year period ending in August 2023. In West Virginia, Gov. Jim Justice is proposing tax cuts to spend some of the $1.3 billion surplus there.

Yup, Texas has a $32 billion surplus—while California has a $50 billion deficit.  Yet Newsom told people in Texas they would be better off in San Fran.  What a joke.  Newsom for President!!

Newsom let CA default on $18.6B in fed unemployment loans

BEEGE WELBORN, HotAir,   5/8/23   https://hotair.com/tree-hugging-sister/2023/05/08/newsom-let-ca-default-on-18-6b-in-fed-unemployment-loans-n549204

For a man who likes to play an unctuous super genius in commercials when he’s pinging on more accomplished governors for unsophisticated, lo-information audiences (no doubt on the state’s dime)…

…as California’s GOVERNOR, Gavin Newsom in the flesh is a walking disaster zone.

The population outflow from the state remains unabated.

California’s population continued to shrink over the last year, according to a state report released Monday.

The total population dropped to an estimated 38.9 million at the start of 2023, down from 39.1 million at the start of 2022, a 0.3% decline.

And it’s not just people walking with fewer moving in. It’s money rolling out the door with them. In San Francisco alone, the tax base loss has been staggering.

As San Francisco residents left the city in the early years of the pandemic, they took billions of dollars in income with them.

About 32,000 more people left San Francisco than migrated to the city from 2020 to 2021, according to newly released tax return data from the IRS. That’s slightly less than the 39,000 more who left than came to the city from 2019 to 2020.

Those who left accounted for a hefty sum of income; the income of departing residents in 2020 was almost $8 billion more than the total reported by arrivals. Combined with the net $6.9 billion in loss in reported wages for those who left San Francisco the prior year, people who exited the city in 2020 and 2021 made about $15 billion more than those who arrived.

That doesn’t seem to bother Gov. Hair Gel Shiny Toothed False Prophet. As I wrote this past January, the man brushed off labels of “profligate spender” even as he turned a $98B surplus into a $22.5B deficit in a year’s time.

I mean, that’s practically magic, and I can spend money with the best of them.

And Newsom really is special, because his state was the only one having the kind of trouble he was having – year-over-year tax revenue declines.

…California’s projected deficit comes as many other states are enjoying large surpluses, in large part due to a deluge of federal funds over the past three years to fight the coronavirus pandemic. On Monday, Texas announced a record $188.2 billion in general fund revenue and projected it would have a $32.7 billion surplus over the two-year period ending in August 2023. In West Virginia, Gov. Jim Justice is proposing tax cuts to spend some of the $1.3 billion surplus there.

An October analysis of the 15 largest states by Fitch Ratings showed California was the only state experiencing year-over-year tax revenue declines. While the state’s employment has rebounded over the past 14 months, personal income tax withholding is down, in part because salary bonuses and initial public offerings have declined, according to the LAO, which forecast the deficit in November.

That report was also from this January and a lot has happened since then. Tons of lay-offs in that pricey Silicon Vally corridor, San Francisco continues to implode on itself, the population outflow hasn’t subsided, and businesses across California are shuttering for good or packing up their things and moving to other states.

What’s a man with presidential aspirations to do when it’s melting down all around him, and he needs businesses thriving and making payrolls to get his tax base revitalized?

Well, the man has a budget to massage first, and there’s a little matter of massive federal unemployment insurance loans the state borrowed from Uncle Sam to cover the shortfalls during COVID when their very generous well quickly ran dry. 22 states eventually took part in the program, but by last November all but four of them had cleared their debts, with CA being the largest *gulp* outstanding loan balance by a country mile.

In the 2023-2024 proposed CA state budget, there had been a $750M set aside to start repaying the feds (just “start” – clock’s ticking, interest climbing) part of the rather hefty balance CA was on the hook for…Screencap CRS Unemployment Trust Fund pdf

…but – and I am not sure how this escaped anyone’s notice, but it sure seems to have – in January, Newsom withdrew the funding from the budget.

CA just stopped paying on the loans.

And now?

The state of California has defaulted on $18.5B in federal loans. Who’s getting screwed on this deal?

Business owners.

Little did California businesses know that they were cosigners on the state’s nearly $20 billion loan from the federal government that was used to cover California’s unemployment fund shortfall during the COVID pandemic. This ugly truth became apparent when the state recently decided to stop making payments on this loan. When a state defaults on its federal unemployment insurance loan, federal law requires that the state’s businesses repay the loan.

What makes this default even more egregious is that the stone-age-era IT system of the state’s Employment and Development Department (EDD) opened the floodgates to bad actors, permitting more than $30 billion in fraudulent unemployment claims during the pandemic. Those receiving fraudulent payments include incarcerated felons, a person impersonating a one-year-old, and a person impersonating Senator Dianne Feinstein. A single residential address received checks for around 60 separate individuals filing from that address.

This could have been avoided with a competent EDD. But this department’s performance has been deficient for decades, and California businesses, many of which are struggling, are left paying for blatant and costly mistakes that should and could have been solved years ago.

In the frenzied handouts, there was $30B – that’s BILLION with a B dollars – worth of FRAUDULENT claims. Of course, CA stopped paying for fraud detection software. It’s not their money.

…The EDD’s IT system dates back to the 1980s and uses software over 50 years old. After multiple attempts to fix the errors, the scope of the problems became magnified. In 2013, the EDD was granted funding by the Obama administration to purchase fraud detection software from Pondera Systems, which was used until 2016. The software, costing around $2 million per year, was discontinued due to the price, which represented less than 1% of the EDD’s budget.

And it’s going to be no grease off Newsom’s brow.

…The state had several chances to pay off the debt, including a roughly $100 billion budget surplus the previous year, $27 billion in federal COVID assistance, and a budget record of $300 billion-plus for 2022–2023. The state might have resumed payments this year despite failing, lowering the tax burden on businesses as intended in the 2023–24 budget. The state has reneged on its promise to resume payments or offset rising company federal unemployment insurance fees, though, as its financial outlook deteriorates.

He’s just handing the whole mess off to the few suckers left still trying to hack out an honest living in that state.

…With an unpaid federal unemployment insurance loan, the federal government raises the unemployment insurance tax immediately by 0.3 percent on each business within the state, and an additional 0.3 percent each year after that until the loan is fully repaid. The normal federal unemployment insurance tax rate is 0.6 percent per year, which means that California businesses will be paying several multiples of the normal federal tax rate before the loan is retired.

The state’s Legislative Analyst Office predicts that repaying the loan through higher taxes on businesses is not expected until 2029 or 2030 and note that retiring the debt could take longer, depending on the state’s economic performance. A recession would almost certainly delay repayment, and the odds of a recession in the next seven years are significant.

Don’t forget there’s a reparations brangle coming, too.

Get out of Dodge if you can.

If you have to stay, how has this clown not been impeached or whatever mechanism they have? I know, I know, – the machine is too strong to do a thing about him.

But there he shouldn’t be allowed a single moment’s peace in any encounter where he isn’t on the defensive constantly.

Man has a lot to answer for.

California Democrats Propose Tax Changes for Businesses

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Democrats in the California Senate on Wednesday said they want to raise taxes on some of the largest corporations so they can cut taxes for nearly every other business.

But the proposal was met with swift opposition from the business community and Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom — highlighting the likely rocky budget negotiations ahead for a state facing an estimated $22.5 billion budget deficit.

All California businesses pay a state tax rate of 8.84% on income, a figure that has not changed since 1997. This new proposal would create two tax rates for businesses in California. Companies would pay 6.63% on the first $1.5 million they make. Any money made above that would be taxed at 10.99%.

The higher tax rate would only apply to about 2,500 companies and would bring in an extra $7.2 billion in revenue for the state. Meanwhile, about 1.6 million businesses would benefit from the smaller tax rate, reducing state revenue by about $2.2 billion.

The money that is left over — about $5 billion — would go to poor people who claim tax credits and would boost state programs for public education, child care and combatting homelessness.

The proposal is still a long way from becoming law. Tax increases require a two-thirds vote of both houses of the Legislature. Democrats control a majority of seats in both chambers, but leaders in the state Assembly have not yet agreed to the plan.

Then there’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who would have to sign off on the proposal. Newsom has resisted raising taxes in the past as he has been building his national profile in recent years in advance of a possible run for president beyond 2024. Last year, Newsom campaigned against a ballot initiative that would have raised taxes on the rich to pay for environmental programs.

Wednesday, Newsom spokesman Anthony York said the governor could not support the proposal..

“It would be irresponsible to jeopardize the progress we’ve all made together over the last decade to protect the most vulnerable while putting our state on sound fiscal footing.” York said.

Still, Democrats in the Senate will try to sell the idea by framing it as a partial reversal of the federal tax cuts signed into law by former Republican President Donald Trump. Nearly every Democrat in California, including Newsom, opposed those cuts, which Trump signed into law in 2017.

“The Senate’s 2023 plan will provide much needed tax relief to those small businesses which are the backbone of our economy and that have been really whacked by inflation,” said state Sen. Nancy Skinner, a Democrat from Berkeley and chair of the Senate Budget Committee. “But it also ensures that the biggest corporations that pocketed massive tax cuts under Trump will start to pay their fair share.”

The California Chamber of Commerce opposed the plan on Wednesday, saying a tax increase would “send the wrong signals to job creators and investors in the state’s economy.”

“Now is not the time to test California’s ability to withstand the impact of an economic downturn or a recession by placing our economic success at risk,” said Jennifer Barrera, the chamber’s president and CEO.

John Kabateck, California state director for the National Federation of Independent Business, which represents small businesses, said the proposal “looks appealing at first glance.” But he said his years of experience in dealing with leaders in the state Legislature has taught him not to endorse proposals too quickly.

“We’re not very keen on getting a tax break for Main Street at the expense of other businesses,” Kabateck said.

Democrats in the state Senate based their proposal on budget numbers the Newsom administration released in January. Back then, Newsom said the state was facing an estimated $22.5 billion deficit.

Those numbers will change next month when Newsom updates his budget proposal based on new tax revenue received since January. It’s likely the budget deficit will have grown, as tax revenues have continued to fall below projections. A larger budget deficit could make the Democrats’ tax cut proposal infeasible.

Adding to the difficulty is that Newsom and lawmakers will have to pass a new spending plan before July 1 without knowing how much money the state has. That’s because many Californians won’t pay their taxes until mid-October, taking advantage of an extension offered after a series of strong winter storms caused widespread damage throughout the state.

Republican state Senate leader Brian Jones said he liked that Democrats were “finally proposing to give a little back to small business.”

Click here to read the full article in AP News

Q&A: 5 questions that arise from LAUSD’s historic labor settlement

Despite the deal with the district’s service workers union, much remains to be addressed, including learning loss and negotiations over a new contract with teachers.

Los Angeles Unified School District workers, parents and leaders alike rejoiced when a labor contract agreement was reached Friday, March 24, following a mammoth three-day strike that shut down America’s second-largest school system. But as the celebrations wind down and the school year rolls on, many uncertainties remain and challenges await.

In the coming weeks, members of SEIU Local 99 — the service workers union representing 30,000 bus drivers, custodians, instructional aides, cafeteria workers and special education assistants — must ratify what is still a tentative agreement. And the district must implement its new contract with the union.

But the road doesn’t end there.

The district must also get students and teachers back into their routines, reach a separate agreement with the teachers union, respond to three days of lost learning and tie up other loose ends.

And, in just one year, the district must reach a fresh agreement with SEIU Local 99, whose leaders have made it clear that they will be ready to strike again if their problems are not addressed.

So, in the aftermath of the historic strike and settlement, here are some questions that arise:

What do the agreement numbers actually mean for service workers?

So many numbers were thrown around during the strike — around $4.9 billion residing in district reserves, a $25,000 average service worker salary, a $440,000 superintendent salary, a 30% pay raise demand and a 23% offer on the table — that it was hard to keep them all straight.

When the agreement was finally hammered out, even more numbers were thrown into the equation.

Here’s what its numbers mean in practice:

By Jan. 1 of next year SEIU members will have effectively received the 30% pay raise that labor leaders have been demanding from the outset of negotiations.

This is divided into a 6% retroactive raise for the 2021 school year, a 7% retroactive raise for the 2022 school and a 7% increase in July 2023. In January, workers will receive an additional $2-an-hour pay bump, which SEIU Executive Director Max Arias says reflects an average 10% raise for workers.

In addition, all SEIU members who worked in-person during the 2020 to 2021 school year will receive $1,000 in recognition of their sacrifices during the pandemic.

Other key numbers to bear in mind are the district’s promise to bring its minimum wage to $22.52 an hour and to invest $3 million in an education and professional development fund for SEIU members.

These figures will make a huge difference in the lives of service workers, many of whom work multiple jobs to make ends meet and one-in-three of whom have said they are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, according to a survey completed by the union.

“This is an equity-driven contract that will elevate potential, address homelessness and address poverty in our community,” said Superintendent Alberto Carvalho at a press conference on Friday.

Labor leaders were also excited by the agreement reached after their members sacrificed three days of pay and picketed through wind, rain and hail.

“SEIU Local 99’s Bargaining Committee is proud of the tentative agreement we reached with the District, which answers our core demands,” said Arias. “We emerged stronger than ever from this week’s strike and showed the entire nation that unions are the most powerful force for economic opportunity and equity.”

At week’s end, Carvalho also appeared pleased — and relieved — with the deal.

“When we started negotiating with SEIU, we promised to honor the dignity of our workforce, correct inequities impacting the lowest-wage earners, continue supporting critical student services and protect the District’s financial viability,” he posted on Twitter. “Promises made, promises delivered.”

Some parents, on the other hand, were frustrated by the whole affair and wish that the union had reached an agreement with the district instead of disrupting learning for three days. Prior to the strike, the district had offered a 23% raise over time and a one-time 3% retention bonus.

How will the district address three days of lost classroom time?

Around 420,000 students missed three days of classroom instruction during the strike.

Had they not just emerged from a highly disruptive pandemic, these days would likely just be a blip, said Pedro Noguera, dean of the USC Rossier School of Education. But, piled atop more than two years fraught with an alarming rate of learning loss and missed socialization, they represent a more significant harm, he added.

María Sanchez, a South Los Angeles parent whose son is deaf, said she already had a hard time getting him to readjust to in-person schooling and is very worried about how the strike will set him back.

“As it is, it’s hard for me to get him on the school bus… I’m seeing changes in his behavior. He’s become more difficult, disruptive. He’s also communicating less with me and with his classmates,” she said. “I believe this is due to all the learning disruption.”

Fortunately, Carvalho already has a playbook for tackling this issue, spurred in part by standardized test results that showed LAUSD students lost approximately five years of academic ground during the pandemic.

A key part of his plan are two bonus “acceleration days” tacked on to each semester, that offer targeted learning support, the chance for students to raise their grades and engage in enrichment activities.

The first-ever set of days took place on Dec. 19 and 20 and had somewhat lackluster attendance of around 40,000 students. The second set of these days is just around the corner on April 3 and 4 and it will be interesting to see whether more families take advantage of them in the aftermath of the strike.

Other parts of Carvalho’s strategy to address learning loss include increased weekend, during school and after school tutoring as well as a new evening bus service to encourage more students to take advantage of after school programming.

What does this all mean for ongoing negotiations with the teachers union?

In an email to its members on Friday, shortly after the district and SEIU announced they had reached a tentative agreement, UTLA touted its collective action with SEIU as a show of force and signaled that it’s prepared to ratchet up pressure on the district once more.

“Carvalho has been put on notice that he better move on our demands,” the memo stated. “If that movement is not enough to settle the contract that UTLA members deserve, we will move to the next round of this fight.”

UTLA is seeking a 20% salary increase over two years; lower class sizes; the hiring of additional nurses, librarians, counselors and other positions; and full funding of the Black Student Achievement Plan and the special education program, among other demands.

Chris Zepeda-Millán, chair of UCLA’s labor studies program, said “hands down” UTLA has the advantage at the moment.

Not only does UTLA have a larger war chest to sustain a longer strike than SEIU could, Zepeda-Millán said, there are more members of the school board endorsed by UTLA now than during the 2019 strike. And should UTLA reach the point of striking again, there’s a chance SEIU members will stage its own solidarity strike to return the favor to the teachers union for supporting it last week, he said.

“The district knows (the unions) can shut (schools) down pretty easily, and they just showed us,” Zepeda-Millán said. “That’s going to be on the back of both teams’ minds as they’re negotiating.”

What will this mean for the local and national labor movement?

You can bet that workers in surrounding school districts, as well as other large urban districts throughout the country, will want more from their employers now, said Thomas Lenz, an adjunct professor at the USC Gould School of Law and a labor law attorney.

The union’s efforts last week were “transformational,” Lenz said, noting that even when it takes a while, walkouts — and the sacrifice of lost wages that go with them —  “can have a return on investment.”

“I will be expecting the local unions will be ramping up their demands, and the members who hear about this will be increasing their expectations because they know it can be done,” he said.

Experts also took particular note of teachers and others who joined with the service workers, who rarely strike.

The fact that teachers walked off the job in solidarity with striking service workers gave them a lot more power and leverage, said UCLA education professor John Rogers. In addition, politicians at city, state and federal levels spoke out in support of the strike.

“I think that each victory for organized labor sends a message to organized labor across the country in various different industry sectors,” Rogers said. “The most powerful messages will be sent to other similarly situated education workers, who will see the advantages of aligning with their teaching union and who will see that they can build power.”

What’s next for Superintendent Carvalho?

When Carvalho first arrived from Florida, a state where labor unions are relatively weaker, many wondered how he would fare in terms of navigating local school politics and unions here in L.A.

One action that angered district employees last month was a tweet the superintendent posted on Feb. 10, which read: “1,2,3…Circus = a predictable performance with a known outcome, desiring of nothing more than an applause, a coin, and a promise of a next show. Let’s do right, for once, without circus, for kids, for community, for decency. @LASchools”

SEIU members, who took a strike authorization vote that week, were offended, believing the superintendent was effectively calling them clowns.

“For members it demonstrated blatant and continued disrespect for their work and their right to take action to improve their livelihoods,” SEIU Local 99 spokesperson Blanca Gallegos said in an email.

On Friday, a district spokesperson said in a statement that people misunderstood the tweet.

“The tweet was deleted because it was misinterpreted as related to the SEIU Local 99 strike authorization,” the statement read. “Consequently, because the tweet was wrongly inferred as a maligning of our own employees, we determined it necessary to remove.”

In a follow-up interview, LAUSD spokesperson Shannon Haber said Carvalho was referencing “one of the many national issues happening in our country” at the time, though she would not specify the issue.

Although Carvalho’s image may have taken a hit in recent weeks due to ongoing labor strife, Zepeda-Millán said, the superintendent can turn things around.

If Carvalho could settle negotiations with UTLA and get the unions to join him in advocating with the governor and state Legislature for greater longterm investments in public education, he could help lead a statewide campaign that could win him points, Zepeda-Millán said.

“Carvalho has a chance to say, ‘I’m going to do things differently this time and let’s show the state and the country that if we have well-paid teachers, smaller class sizes – what all the research says works – we could have great public schools again,’” he said.

To be sure, Carvalho still has the support of many parents.

United Parents Los Angeles, a group which oftentimes is at odds with the teachers union, said in a statement that it’s “rooting” for Carvalho.

“Carvalho has been a much-needed student and academic oriented leader that has done a lot of community outreach. Many families feel that their kids are represented for the first time in years,” the statement said.

The group went on to say that for the district to combat enrollment drops and retain students, it must prioritize smaller class sizes and support schools by “trim(ming) the fat and redirect(ing) that spending” responsibly.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Daily News

San Fran slavery fund has yet to get a donation from city contractors in its 7 years

San Fran is looking at using tax dollars to give every black in town $5 million.  But, when it comes to voluntarily use their own money—of course they won’t.

“San Francisco’s Human Rights Commission released a memo in December 2022 that advocated the city give $5 million to each eligible Black resident.

As the city of San Francisco debates how to pay for a legacy of racism, its slavery disclosure ordinance asking businesses that contract with the city for voluntary donations to “ameliorate the effects of slavery” has not received a donation in seven years.

So far all these WOKE, radical businesses that claim California si a racist State have refused to give a dime to this fund in seven years.  Hypcrites.

San Francisco slavery fund has yet to get a donation from city contractors in its 7 years

Just the News,  3/12/23 

San Francisco’s Human Rights Commission released a memo in December 2022 that advocated the city give $5 million to each eligible Black resident.

As the city of San Francisco debates how to pay for a legacy of racism, its slavery disclosure ordinance asking businesses that contract with the city for voluntary donations to “ameliorate the effects of slavery” has not received a donation in seven years.

San Francisco’s Human Rights Commission released a memo in December 2022 that advocated the city give $5 million to each eligible Black resident. The U.S. Census estimated about 42,390 Black residents in the city in 2021. The commission didn’t say how many people would be eligible for the $5 million.

In 2006, San Francisco created a “slavery disclosure” ordinance under then-Mayor Gavin Newsom. The ordinance requires businesses that contract with the city to research its company’s history and report any financial transactions and activity that may have been part of the slave industry.

In 2015, two businesses acknowledged in their affidavits that they had ties to predecessor banks that benefitted from the slave trade.

Bank of America stated it couldn’t find an instance where any Bank of America legacy banks made a profit from slavery but did confirm “a direct connection to slavery by Southern predecessor banks.”

U.S. Bank National Association stated it acquired southern banks and identified records of founders or directors of predecessor banks who owned slaves. It also included a record showing the use of a slave as collateral for a loan.

That ordinance also encourages city contractors to make “contributions to a Special Fund to ameliorate the effects of slavery.” The most recent annual report in March 2022 states, “In February of 2015, letters requesting voluntary contributions were sent to all City vendors covered by the ordinance. No responses were received.”

A city official confirmed to The Center Square that only two companies had found ties to the slave trade and the fund had received no contributions.

The affidavit asks for records of each person subjected to slavery, each slaveholder and each person or entity who participated in the slave trade or derived profits from the slave trade.

The city started filing annual reports on the slavery disclosure ordinance in 2015 and sent a letter to all contractors covered by the ordinance for voluntary donations.

The city allows for exemptions.

The ordinance stated, “Insurance policies, loan documents and other documents and records provide evidence of ill-gotten profits from slavery, which profits, in part, capitalized insurers, financial services providers and textile companies. The successors of these companies remain in existence today, and such profits from the uncompensated labor of enslaved Africans represent a continuing legacy of slavery.”

Some of the businesses that filed an affidavit include Bank of America, U.S. Bank and EPIC Insurance Brokers & Consultants. Wells Fargo was exempt from filing an affidavit, but voluntarily submitted one. Wells Fargo is a vendor with the Controller’s Office of Public Finance.

The nonprofit Corporate Accountability profiled “the racist history of Wells Fargo” in June 2022. Wells Fargo bought Wachovia in 2008 “intertwining itself with a very dark history.” Corporate Accountability stated Wachovia descended from financial institutions “with deep ties to the mistreatment of black people.”

Antony Davies, an economist and associate professor of economics at Duquesne University, said there are likely very few companies in San Francisco today that also existed a century and a half ago.

“But, there are two entities that clearly did exist well before the abolition of slavery and clearly still exist today: the city and county of San Francisco,” Davies said. “Anyone in San Francisco who is concerned with identifying contemporaries who benefited from slavery should probably start with those two organizations.”

The city of San Francisco was founded in 1776. California became the 31st state in 1850.

The slavery ordinance states, “The City and County of San Francisco acknowledges the loss of assets that rightfully should be the property of descendants of African people subjected to slavery, and extends its apologies to their descendants who continue to suffer the legacy of slavery.”

The San Francisco Mayor’s office and a city employee involved with the slavery disclosure ordinance did not respond to emails seeking comment. Corporate Accountability didn’t respond to an email seeking comment. Wells Fargo didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

Gov. Ron DeSantis Flaunts Florida, Blasts California’s Left-Leaning Leaders in Simi Valley Speech

Though DeSantis is not yet an official GOP presidential candidate, his trip to California offered him an opportunity to rub elbows with Golden State Republican donors and tacitly point out what would set his potential presidency apart from a second term for Donald Trump.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis visited Southern California on Sunday and delivered a speech that while billed as a book talk, had all the trimmings of a presidential campaign in a state that will play a key role in determining the GOP candidate.

The majority of the speech, which took place in front of a large and friendly crowd at Simi Valley’s Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, consisted of DeSantis contrasting what he sees as the manifold successes of Florida against the failures of California and liberals writ large.

The event was ostensibly a celebration for his upcoming book “The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival,” but it also offered DeSantis an opportunity to rub elbows with the Golden State’s Republican donors and tacitly point out what would set a DeSantis presidency apart from a second term for Trump.

In the hour-long talk DeSantis lambasted the education, COVID, taxation and public safety policies in such deep-blue states as California and New York and pointed to his leadership in Florida as the perfect foil to that of left-leaning governors.

“I think we’ve gotten it right on all the key issues and I think these liberal states have gotten it wrong,” he said. “I think it all goes back to this woke mind virus that’s infected the left.”

DeSantis said that most Americans oppose “woke ideology” and have “voted with their feet” in terms of which states’ philosophy they prefer.

“If you look over the last four years, we’ve witnessed a great American exodus from states governed by leftist politicians imposing leftist ideology and delivering poor results,” he said. “And, you’ve seen massive gains in states like Florida, who are governing according to the tried and true principles that President Reagan held dear.”

The hour-long speech was met with cheers and applause from attendees at the Reagan Library, part of nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of the former president’s conservative principles and legacy.

“This was a spectacular, top-notch presidential speech, so he has definitely set the stage that he is a contender,” said Ann-Marie Villicana, an executive chairman member of the Reagan Library. “At one point I blurted out loud ‘we need to move to Florida’.”

RELATED: Thousands of pro-Trump bots are attacking Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley

Although DeSantis has yet to formally toss his hat in the ring as a presidential candidate, many interpreted Sunday’s speech, and his evening GOP fund-raiser down the freeway in Orange County, as early-stage campaigning.

Simultaneously, Trump amped up his campaign over the weekend, casting himself Saturday as the only Republican candidate who can build on his White House legacy but shied away from directly critiquing his potential rivals — including DeSantis.

Trump, giving the headlining address at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland, told a cheering crowd that he was engaged in his “final battle” as he tries to return to the White House.

“We are going to finish what we started,” he said. “We’re going to complete the mission. We’re going to see this battle through to ultimate victory.”

While CPAC was once a must-stop for candidates mulling Republican presidential runs, DeSantis and other major likely contenders skipped this year’s gathering as the group has increasingly become aligned with Trump. Indeed, it’s the Reagan Library that has become a popular stop for potential GOP contenders, from recently announced candidate Nikki Haley to former Vice President Mike Pence, among others. Trump himself has not spoken there.

Though DeSantis, seen as Trump’s biggest potential rival, is frequently a subject of name-calling and other attacks in Trump’s social media posts and in interviews, he wasn’t mentioned directly in Trump’s address before conservative activists, who earlier in the day applauded when an old video clip of the Florida governor was shown in a montage.

He took only a veiled jab at DeSantis, calling out those who have proposed raising the age for Social Security or privatizing Medicare — positions DeSantis has expressed support for in the past, but has since abandoned. “We’re not going to mess with Social Security as Republicans,” DeSantis recently said.

Trump told the crowd, “If that’s their original thought, that’s what they always come back to.”

DeSantis, meanwhile, was on the other side of the country for his Reagan Library address and an appearance at a reception and dinner for the Republican Party of Orange County Sunday evening. Tickets for the event ranged from $500 for general admission to $1,500, which includes an autographed copy of the governor’s book and photo opportunities.

“He knows the red states are not going to be a problem, so I think he’s testing out his message to the to the blue states,” said Anngel Benoun , an executive chairman member of the Reagan Library. “He was trying out several different topics in order to see what got a good response, what got a lukewarm response and what got the standing ovation.”

DeSantis indeed succeeded in eliciting a standing ovation, not only at the end of his speech, but also in the middle when he spoke about how gender and sexuality is taught in the classroom.

“They should not be teaching a second-grader that they can choose their gender; that is wrong and that is not going to happen in the state of Florida,” he said, prompting audience members to rise to their feet.

The governor also denounced teaching critical race theory in schools, called California’s slow return to in-person learning during the pandemic a “disgrace” and said that teachers unions in California have a “pernicious influence” and are pursuing a “partisan agenda.”

Under DeSantis’s leadership Florida was one of the first states to fully resume in-person schooling in August 2020. In contrast, many California schools remained virtual for the majority of the 2020 to 2021 school year.

“He focused so much on education, so that also tells me he’s going to be trying to grab back the female vote that Trump couldn’t get,” said Benoun.

Trump won only 39% of the female vote in 2016 and 44% in 2020. DeSantis, on the other hand, snared 52% of the female vote during his 2022 gubernatorial victory– an achievement he flaunted on Sunday alongside his record-breaking margin of victory.

“We went from winning by 32,000 votes in 2018 to winning by over 1.5 million votes in 2022, he said. “It was the largest percentage of the vote that any Republican governor candidate received in Florida history.”

DeSantis also bragged about capturing over 60% of the Hispanic vote, saying he did this because he didn’t pander to particular racial groups, but treated everyone as an individual.

He did not, however, discuss his polling among Black voters.

“That could be a big problem for him,” said Benoun. “Because, remember, Trump got the highest percentage of the African American vote of any Republican candidate.”

In fact, DeSantis did not mention the word Black throughout his entire speech, even though he touched on many race related issues including summer 2020 riots.

“We saw destructive riots in the summer of 2020 that were aided and abetted by feckless leftist politicians at the local level. We saw businesses trashed we saw billions in damages. We saw dozens of people killed, all without standing up for law and order,” DeSantis said. “We let it be known that would not be tolerated in the Sunshine State.”

DeSantis also did not mention Trump directly, but did emphasize attributes of his leadership that are different from the former president’s, Benoun pointed out.

If DeSantis does declare his candidacy, Trump will be a key rival. A recent Berkeley IGS survey of registered Republicans found DeSantis to be leading a field of potential and declared 2024 presidential candidates — trailed closely by Trump.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

Colman: MICKEY MOUSE UNDER ATTACK IN FLORIDA

Since 1967, Disney has been a government in Florida.  It was literally given the power to tax, to create bonds, to hire fire and police service—and have NO elected folks in charge.  The Disney Board of Directors has been the city council for this area of Florida.  In fact, they also set their own tax rates and policies.

When Disney decided to get involved in Florida governmental policy and denounce the Legislature, by lying and the Governor, by lying, the question arose—who are these people and why are they a separate nation, inside Florida?

The Governor and legislature decided to repeal the separate nation provision from 1967—instead Disney will be treated just as any other corporation in the State—no better and no worse.  If Disney is allowed their own town/nation, then why not Elon Musk or Zuckerberg, etc.?  Will this kill off Mickey Mouse?  Think Disney can close down $10 billion in investment in theme parks and move to Idaho or New York?  Mickey is not going anywhere.  It is now up to the customers to decide if they like the WOKE Mickey Mouse.

MICKEY MOUSE UNDER ATTACK IN FLORIDA

By Richard Colman, Exclusive to the California Political News and Views,  3/3/23

Is there a plan, in Florida, to kill off Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy?  Or is Florida trying to enact some sort of tax reform?

In a strong attack on the Walt Disney Company, which created Mickey, Donald, and Goofy, Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, signed legislation on Feb. 27, 2023, to end special tax breaks for the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida.

In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, published on Feb. 28, 2023, DeSantis wrote:  “. . . I signed a law . . . ending the Walt Disney Co.’s self-governing status over 43 square miles in central Florida, an area as big as Miami.  Disney no longer has its own government.  It has to live under the same laws as Universal Studios, Sea World, and every other company in our state . . .”  DeSantis signed the anti-Disney law on Feb. 27, 2023.

DeSantis complained that Disney’s special Florida arrangement, which dates to 1967, “ . . . was an indefensible example of corporate welfare.  It provided the company with favorable tax treatment, including the ability to assess its own property valuations . . .”

DeSantis is expected to seek the Republican nomination for president in 2024.

But did DeSantis have a motive in addition to the one to end Disney’s special tax breaks?

In his Journal opinion piece, DeSantis said “… left-wing activists working at the company’s headquarters in Burbank, Calif., pressured Disney to oppose Florida’s Parental Rights Education Act.  The legislation bans classroom instruction on sexuality and gender ideology in kindergarten through third grade . . .”

DeSantis went on to state:  “. . . old-guard corporate Republicanism isn’t up to the task at hand.  For decades, GOP elected officials have campaigned on free-market principles but governed as corporatists –- supporting subsidies, tax breaks, and carve-outs to confer special benefits on entrenched corporate interests.”

Does DeSantis sound like a Republican or more like a Democratic populist such as William Jennings Bryan?

Was DeSantis only interested in eliminating Disney’s favorable tax breaks in Florida, or was he also interested in punishing Disney because of its views on sexuality and gender ideology?

Perhaps Disney’s Florida operations received excessive tax breaks.

But, according to Florida’s Department of Revenue, Florida corporations receive plenty of tax breaks.  A partial list of such breaks include the:

·      Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit.

·      Entertainment Industry Tax Credit.

·      Strong Families Tax Credit.

·      Rural Job Tax Credit.

·      Urban High-Crime Area Job Tax Credit.

·      Firefighters Pension Trust Fund Credit.

·      Municipal Police Officers Retirement Trust Fund Credit.

If corporate tax breaks are so bad, why didn’t DeSantis eliminate all of the non-Disney tax breaks?

A strong argument can be made that Disney became DeSantis’s target because of Disney’s positions on cultural issues as well as economic matters.

In his Journal piece, DeSantis wrote:  “When corporations try to use their economic power to advance a woke agenda, they become political, and not merely economic, actors.”

DeSantis continued:  “Woke ideology is a form of cultural Marxism.”

He added, “We are making Florida the state where the economy flourishes because we are the state where woke goes to die.”

Perhaps the Disney company ought to remain silent on political and cultural issues.  Why do something that might antagonize Disney’s customers?

As for DeSantis, he appears to have an authoritarian streak in him.  If he becomes president, will he be, if elected, more like Dwight Eisenhower, the former American president, or more like Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator?

Individual citizens, not government, should handle matters of personal belief -– sexual or otherwise.

Is DeSantis acting like a governor who wants to regulate morality, or is he more like a cartoon character such as Mickey Mouse?  Let’s see if the DeSantis mousetrap kills off Mickey.

Here is how the Feds and Newsom will be able to limit your driving.  They will decide how much and where you are allowed to drive.  Feel safe?

“What proponents do not care to emphasize is the fact that the car must “passively” monitor the vehicle and driver and that the system will have at least one port of entry for someone (or something) outside the vehicle to access the system, a port of entry that will be perfect for the imposition of a VMT.

Briefly, a VMT is a direct tax on driving instead (theoretically, very theoretically) of the gas taxes currently paid at the pump. The imposition of a VMT has multiple potential permutations, from simply charging a flat rate per mile driven to modifying the rate depending upon when the car is driven (higher for rush hour, for example,) to charging more based on where the car is driven (known as cordon pricing) or even how much the driver earns in a year – for a detailed breakdown of the possibilities, see HERE.

To make the tax work – unless the government would rely on self-reporting which it won’t because, well, duh – a vehicle needs to be tracked at all times.  This aspeect has led to fierce public opposition to the concept, but if the tracker is already in the car for “safety” purposes some of this opposition may be tamped down (the same rationale goes for the eventual introduction of the self-driving car – which clearly need to be tracked at all times – lessening criticism of the concept.)”

You read that right—an outside source will be able to control your car and can stop it in its tracks.  No warning, no appeal, you are stuck.  No wonder they are killing oil—you will not need it because you are not going anywhere.  Oh, if you are on a government “watch” list they will be able to stop you from attending protests or rallies.

Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax Gets a Killer Boost

Federal New Car ‘Kill Switch’ Reg Opens Backdoor

By Thomas Buckley, California Globe,   1/8/23    

It seems as if anything can be done – truly anything – if it is in the name of safety.

From the pandemic to peanut butter, as long as a new rule, regulation, mandate, dictate is couched in the language of improving safety it is either completely cosseted from criticism or its possibilities for gross governmental misuse are downplayed as the ravings of a paranoid lunatic.

California and the rest of the nation may very well soon learn that when it comes to “good intentions,” if the government is involved the true intentions are often hidden and they are very rarely good.

And it is on these intentions the imposition of a Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) on drivers could be introduced at a federal level.

In the Biden infrastructure bill signed last year, a relatively obscure bit calls for all new cars built after 2026 to have a “kill switch.”  Sold as a way to combat drunk driving, the system would involve various unclear-at-the-present technologies (yes your car will have to be able to literally watch you) to detect whether or not you could be impaired and if the car determines that to be that case then the car won’t start.

Per usual, the proponents of the bill claim that no nefarious future actions are possible. From an AP story dispelling the myth of the “kill switch” (serious water carrying there) Robert Strassburger, president and CEO of the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety, said any information collected will “never leave the vehicle.”

In other words, it’s not really a “kill switch” and safe drivers really don’t have to worry ever and we’re doing this for your own good and anyone who thinks this device will ever be used in any other way by any government agency is nuts and bad and crazy and might be a domestic terrorist.

We’ve seen this movie before.

What proponents do not care to emphasize is the fact that the car must “passively” monitor the vehicle and driver and that the system will have at least one port of entry for someone (or something) outside the vehicle to access the system, a port of entry that will be perfect for the imposition of a VMT.

Briefly, a VMT is a direct tax on driving instead (theoretically, very theoretically) of the gas taxes currently paid at the pump. The imposition of a VMT has multiple potential permutations, from simply charging a flat rate per mile driven to modifying the rate depending upon when the car is driven (higher for rush hour, for example,) to charging more based on where the car is driven (known as cordon pricing) or even how much the driver earns in a year – for a detailed breakdown of the possibilities, see HERE.

To make the tax work – unless the government would rely on self-reporting which it won’t because, well, duh – a vehicle needs to be tracked at all times.  This aspeect has led to fierce public opposition to the concept, but if the tracker is already in the car for “safety” purposes some of this opposition may be tamped down (the same rationale goes for the eventual introduction of the self-driving car – which clearly need to be tracked at all times – lessening criticism of the concept.)

The VMT has been simmering in Sacramento for years, has been pilot programmed in multiple states, and is already in place in multiple jurisdictions. 

A VMT for large trucks took effect on January 1 in Connecticut, a driver is charged about $20 when they cross an imaginary line heading into central London, and, starting next year, most everyone driving below 60th Street in Manhattan will have to pay between $9 and $23 for the privilege to do so.

Last year, the San Diego Association of Governments tried to put a VMT into its county transportation plan, but the board balked at the last minute due to the political ramifications (local elected officials have been booted out of office for supporting a VMT).  However, the introduction in California of at-this-point voluntary “digital license plates” which could be used to track vehicles raises serious privacy issues, and could be used to take the VMT matter out of local hands.

Again, the rationale for the overwhelming opposition has been the invasion of privacy inherent in placing tracking devices in individual personal automobiles. With this new system, that issue is obviated by the fact that if you want to buy a new car you will have to have a “safety” system in the car, a system that can/will be used to impose the VMT.

Another key advantage for VMT proponents to this federal approach is that it essentially solves the other big problem involved in a VMT – borders.  For example, if San Diego had a VMT, how would all the out-of-town tourists visiting Legoland pay if the tax at the pump is gone?  What would happen if California had a VMT but not Nevada – if you had to buy gas in Primm on the way to/from Las Vegas, would you end up being double taxed?  The list goes on…

But a federal program that covers every driver in the nation eliminates this thorny issue as it makes borders meaningless.

And, frighteningly, that is one thing we know the Biden Administration is very good at.

Here is how the Feds and Newsom will be able to limit your driving.  They will decide how much and where you are allowed to drive.  Feel safe?

“What proponents do not care to emphasize is the fact that the car must “passively” monitor the vehicle and driver and that the system will have at least one port of entry for someone (or something) outside the vehicle to access the system, a port of entry that will be perfect for the imposition of a VMT.

Briefly, a VMT is a direct tax on driving instead (theoretically, very theoretically) of the gas taxes currently paid at the pump. The imposition of a VMT has multiple potential permutations, from simply charging a flat rate per mile driven to modifying the rate depending upon when the car is driven (higher for rush hour, for example,) to charging more based on where the car is driven (known as cordon pricing) or even how much the driver earns in a year – for a detailed breakdown of the possibilities, see HERE.

To make the tax work – unless the government would rely on self-reporting which it won’t because, well, duh – a vehicle needs to be tracked at all times.  This aspeect has led to fierce public opposition to the concept, but if the tracker is already in the car for “safety” purposes some of this opposition may be tamped down (the same rationale goes for the eventual introduction of the self-driving car – which clearly need to be tracked at all times – lessening criticism of the concept.)”

You read that right—an outside source will be able to control your car and can stop it in its tracks.  No warning, no appeal, you are stuck.  No wonder they are killing oil—you will not need it because you are not going anywhere.  Oh, if you are on a government “watch” list they will be able to stop you from attending protests or rallies.

Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax Gets a Killer Boost

Federal New Car ‘Kill Switch’ Reg Opens Backdoor

By Thomas Buckley, California Globe,   1/8/23     https://californiaglobe.com/articles/vehicle-miles-traveled-tax-gets-a-killer-boost/

It seems as if anything can be done – truly anything – if it is in the name of safety.

From the pandemic to peanut butter, as long as a new rule, regulation, mandate, dictate is couched in the language of improving safety it is either completely cosseted from criticism or its possibilities for gross governmental misuse are downplayed as the ravings of a paranoid lunatic.

California and the rest of the nation may very well soon learn that when it comes to “good intentions,” if the government is involved the true intentions are often hidden and they are very rarely good.

And it is on these intentions the imposition of a Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) on drivers could be introduced at a federal level.

In the Biden infrastructure bill signed last year, a relatively obscure bit calls for all new cars built after 2026 to have a “kill switch.”  Sold as a way to combat drunk driving, the system would involve various unclear-at-the-present technologies (yes your car will have to be able to literally watch you) to detect whether or not you could be impaired and if the car determines that to be that case then the car won’t start.

Per usual, the proponents of the bill claim that no nefarious future actions are possible. From an AP story dispelling the myth of the “kill switch” (serious water carrying there) Robert Strassburger, president and CEO of the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety, said any information collected will “never leave the vehicle.”

In other words, it’s not really a “kill switch” and safe drivers really don’t have to worry ever and we’re doing this for your own good and anyone who thinks this device will ever be used in any other way by any government agency is nuts and bad and crazy and might be a domestic terrorist.

We’ve seen this movie before.

What proponents do not care to emphasize is the fact that the car must “passively” monitor the vehicle and driver and that the system will have at least one port of entry for someone (or something) outside the vehicle to access the system, a port of entry that will be perfect for the imposition of a VMT.

Briefly, a VMT is a direct tax on driving instead (theoretically, very theoretically) of the gas taxes currently paid at the pump. The imposition of a VMT has multiple potential permutations, from simply charging a flat rate per mile driven to modifying the rate depending upon when the car is driven (higher for rush hour, for example,) to charging more based on where the car is driven (known as cordon pricing) or even how much the driver earns in a year – for a detailed breakdown of the possibilities, see HERE.

To make the tax work – unless the government would rely on self-reporting which it won’t because, well, duh – a vehicle needs to be tracked at all times.  This aspeect has led to fierce public opposition to the concept, but if the tracker is already in the car for “safety” purposes some of this opposition may be tamped down (the same rationale goes for the eventual introduction of the self-driving car – which clearly need to be tracked at all times – lessening criticism of the concept.)

The VMT has been simmering in Sacramento for years, has been pilot programmed in multiple states, and is already in place in multiple jurisdictions. 

A VMT for large trucks took effect on January 1 in Connecticut, a driver is charged about $20 when they cross an imaginary line heading into central London, and, starting next year, most everyone driving below 60th Street in Manhattan will have to pay between $9 and $23 for the privilege to do so.

Last year, the San Diego Association of Governments tried to put a VMT into its county transportation plan, but the board balked at the last minute due to the political ramifications (local elected officials have been booted out of office for supporting a VMT).  However, the introduction in California of at-this-point voluntary “digital license plates” which could be used to track vehicles raises serious privacy issues, and could be used to take the VMT matter out of local hands.

Again, the rationale for the overwhelming opposition has been the invasion of privacy inherent in placing tracking devices in individual personal automobiles. With this new system, that issue is obviated by the fact that if you want to buy a new car you will have to have a “safety” system in the car, a system that can/will be used to impose the VMT.

Another key advantage for VMT proponents to this federal approach is that it essentially solves the other big problem involved in a VMT – borders.  For example, if San Diego had a VMT, how would all the out-of-town tourists visiting Legoland pay if the tax at the pump is gone?  What would happen if California had a VMT but not Nevada – if you had to buy gas in Primm on the way to/from Las Vegas, would you end up being double taxed?  The list goes on…

But a federal program that covers every driver in the nation eliminates this thorny issue as it makes borders meaningless.

And, frighteningly, that is one thing we know the Biden Administration is very good at.

California Looks to Ban Diesel Trucks at Ports by 2035

Truckers say the state’s lack of charging stations for big rigs is major obstacle to switching to electric

An ambitious California plan to require trucking fleets in the state to switch from diesel to electric power faces a potential backup at charging stations. 

The California Air Resources Board is proposing phasing out older big rigs operating in the busy corridors shuttling shipping containers between ports, rail yards and warehouses and require that all new vehicles be powered by clean fuels starting in 2024. From 2025, the state would bar trucks powered by internal combustion engines that have more than 800,000 miles on them from operating at ports and rail yards.

The goal is to push more than 30,000 heavily-polluting trucks to clean energy by 2035. Trucking industry officials say there is a big gap between the target and the charging infrastructure that barely exists today and would take years to build. 

“Nobody is saying we don’t want to move to advanced technology,” said Matt Schrap, chief executive of the Harbor Trucking Association, an advocacy group that represents thousands of the state’s port truckers. Truckers can’t meet the deadline, he said, “because there’s no charging.”

The conflict between infrastructure and ambitions in California highlights the challenges that states face as they try to push some of the most heavily-polluting sectors of the logistics industry toward clean fuels. 

California leads the nation in its bid to wean drivers off gas- and diesel-powered vehicles. CARB, the state’s main regulatory body for air quality, passed rules this summer banning the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035. It has also passed rules mandating that truck dealers ensure zero-emission vehicles make up an increasing share of sales over the next decade.

The latest proposed rule, which also pushes fleets of vans, long-haul trucks and buses to transition to zero-emission vehicles over varying timelines, is aimed at creating a market for dealers by forcing truckers into clean-energy rigs. The state regulatory board is expected to vote on the rule next spring.

Tony Brasil, a clean-energy trucking specialist at CARB, said the regulations solve a chicken-and-egg problem. Truckers won’t buy vehicles without a charging infrastructure in place, he said, but companies won’t invest in charging stations if they can’t be certain of demand. Requiring that dealers and truckers make the switch should give companies confidence to invest in charging stations, Mr. Brasil said.

Truckers say they face big challenges in moving to electric trucks. The trucks tend to cost two or three times as much as diesel trucks, which retail for about $150,000. Most electric trucks today have a range of between 100 and 200 miles between charges, making longer trucking routes impractical.

Aaron Brown, senior vice president of port services for logistics and trucking operator NFI Industries, said the Camden, N.J.-based firm is introducing about 90 electric trucks in Southern California over the next year. NFI is also installing dozens of chargers across three depots that are close to ports and warehouses. 

The firm, one of the nation’s largest privately held trucking companies, has plenty of customers that rely on roughly 90-mile, round-trip routes shuttling cargo between nearby ports and warehouses. It also has customers willing to pay a premium for a zero-emissions haul.

“We are counting on the shipper community to pay significantly elevated prices to support the higher equipment costs,” Mr. Brown said.   

Chris Shimoda, senior vice president of government affairs at the California Trucking Association, said it will be harder for smaller companies and independent truckers to operate electric trucks without a public charging network.  

California has about 80,000 electric-vehicle chargers, according to state data, almost all of them for cars and light trucks. State officials say they don’t know how many heavy-duty electric-charging stations there are in California, but they estimate the state will need 157,000 chargers by 2030 to support electrification of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. 

The Port of Long Beach, where trucks handle hundreds of container movements each day, has two truck charging stations and plans to add more. A spokesman at the neighboring Port of Los Angeles says it doesn’t expect to add many chargers because of concerns about “local traffic impacts, available land and the grid improvements needed.”

Elizabeth John, who manages the California Energy Commission office that oversees investments in heavy-duty zero-emission infrastructure, said most heavy-duty charging stations are being built for private yards. 

Ms. John said public charging stations should follow quickly as the state provides billions of dollars in grants and as companies install charging stations and charge drivers for parking and filling up. ”There are a number of different business models emerging that will help support a network,” she said. 

Click here for the full article in the Wall Street Journal

California Wins Leave GOP Poised to Seize US House Control

Two threatened U.S. House Republicans in California triumphed over Democratic challengers Monday, helping move the GOP within a seat of seizing control of the chamber while a string of congressional races in the state remained in play.

In a bitter fight southeast of Los Angeles, Republican Rep. Michelle Steel defeated Democrat Jay Chen in a district that was specifically drawn to give Asian Americans, who comprise the largest group in the district, a stronger voice on Capitol Hill. It includes the nation’s largest Vietnamese community.

East of Los Angeles, Republican Rep. Ken Calvert notched a win over Democrat Will Rollins. With 80% of the votes tallied, Calvert, the longest serving Republican in the California congressional delegation, established a nearly 5,500-vote edge in the contest.

Ten races in the state remained undecided as vote-counting continued, though only a handful were seen as tight enough to break either way.

It takes 218 seats to control the House. Republicans have locked down 217 seats so far, with Democrats claiming 205.

Should Democrats fail to protect their fragile majority, Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield would be in line to replace Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco.

In the 45th District anchored in Orange County, Steel, a South Korean immigrant looking for a second term in Congress, faced Chen, a Navy reservist and the son of immigrants from Taiwan. The race was being watched nationally for what it says about the preferences of the Asian community.

The candidates initially made inflation and hate crimes against Asian Americans key issues. But the race took an ugly turn and most of it focused on accusation and recrimination.

Chen’s advertising depicted Steel as an extremist who would threaten abortion rights, while Republicans accused Chen of “racism” after he told supporters an “interpreter” was needed to understand Steel’s remarks, arguing that Chen was mocking her accented English. Chen said he was referring to “convoluted talking points” that he said Steel uses to sidestep issues.

Steel also distributed flyers depicting Chen as a communist sympathizer, while Chen has said his grandmother fled China to escape communist rule.

In California, the primary House battlegrounds are Orange County — a suburban expanse southeast of Los Angeles that was once a GOP stronghold but has become increasingly diverse and Democratic — and the Central Valley, an inland stretch sometimes called the nation’s salad bowl for its agricultural production.

The tightest remaining contest in the state emerged in the Central Valley, where Democrat Adam Gray seized a tissue-thin lead after Republican John Duarte jumped ahead by 84 votes in a fight for an open seat in District 13.

Underscoring the tightness of the contest, Gray’s campaign formed a committee to begin raising money to finance a possible recount. Those costs, which are paid to county election officials, fall on the campaign committee or voter that requested a recount. Generally, such requests cannot be made until a month after the election.

The latest returns showed Gray leading by 761 votes, with nearly 80% of the votes tabulated.

In Orange County, one of the state’s marquee races tightened when an updated vote tally showed Republican Scott Baugh slashing in half a narrow edge held by Democratic Rep. Katie Porter. Porter, a star of the party’s progressive wing, was leading the former legislator Baugh by about 2,900 votes — or just over 1 percentage point — with nearly 80% of the votes counted.

In another battleground district north of Los Angeles, Republican Rep. Mike Garcia held a comfortable edge over Democrat Christy Smith in their third consecutive match-up, after Garcia claimed the first two.

The latest returns — with about two-thirds of the votes counted — showed Garcia with 54.4%, to 45.6% for Smith.

In a statement on Twitter, Smith said her chances for seizing the seat had “narrowed significantly” and “it’s likely Garcia holds the seat.”

Democrats also were holding significant margins in several districts, including the Central Valley’s 9th, where Democratic Rep. Josh Harder had a nearly 13-point edge over Republican Tom Patti.

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