Index
Tuesday
Oct212014

POLITICS (Water): California farm districts, Westlands Water District, report/analysis: "Amid California's drought, a bruising battle for cheap water" ....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Amid California's drought, a bruising battle for cheap water" - From the LAT:

The signs appear about 200 miles north of Los Angeles, tacked onto old farm wagons parked along quiet two-lane roads and bustling Interstate 5. "Congress Created Dust Bowl." "Stop the Politicians' Water Crisis." "No Water No Jobs."

They dot the Westlands Water District like angry salutations, marking the territory of California's most formidable water warrior. Their message is clear: Politicians and environmental laws are more to blame for Westlands' dusty brown fields than the drought that has parched California for the last three years. In truth, neither is to blame for Westlands' woes so much as the simple fact that the nation's largest irrigation district is in the wrong place.

In a state where three-quarters of the water use is by agriculture, powerful farm districts such as Westlands play an outsized role in the rough-and-tumble world of water politics............................

Tuesday
Oct212014

POLITICS (State, Local): Local tax and bond measures, November ballot, commentary (Dan Walters): "Local measures will test support for tax extensions" ....

* Sacramento Bee (Dan Walters):  "Local measures will test support for tax extensions" - From the Bee:

t’s virtually certain that California voters will be asked in 2016 to extend – perhaps permanently – the temporary increases in sales and income taxes that they approved in 2012.

Since it’s very unlikely that the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown would extend the taxes, it’s very likely that unions and other advocates will place an extension on the ballot via initiative. Meanwhile, there will be a test of voter support for taxes next month as local governments and school districts seek approval of many billions of dollars in new taxes, plus bonds that would require property tax hikes to repay.

The sheer volume of the local tax and bond measures on the Nov. 4 ballot is impressive, as a compilation by the California Taxpayers Association shows. School districts, for example, have placed 113 bond measures on their local ballots, totaling $11.7 billion – a response, it seems, to Brown’s refusal to have a state school bond on the ballot, despite pleas from educators.

Cal-Tax also counted 53 local sales tax proposals – mostly by cities. . . . . . . .

The latter are property taxes that, at least in theory, don’t violate Proposition 13, the iconic 1978 property tax limit measure. Proposition 13 limits property taxes based on values, while parcel taxes are fixed amounts applied to parcels of property regardless of value. However, some proposals would levy differing amounts of tax on different kinds of property, which may run afoul of a 2013 state appellate court decision saying properties must be treated equally. A bill to overturn the decision and allow differential taxes failed in the Legislature this year.

If approved, the pending parcel taxes would be added to the more than 300 that school districts and local governments have imposed, with voter approval, over the last three decades, according to a legislative staff analysis.

Their proliferation has raised another issue – whether they may run afoul of another landmark court ruling, the state Supreme Court’s 1971 Serrano v. Priest declaration that financing schools with value-based property taxes violates equal-protection provisions because per-pupil taxable property values vary widely...................

Tuesday
Oct212014

SACRAMENTO: 32nd Senate District, independent expenditure efforts, big Republican $$$$: "Big GOP money flowing to Calderon's California Senate seat" ....

* Sacramento Bee:  "Big GOP money flowing to Calderon's California Senate seat" - From the Bee:

The California Republican Party and wealthy GOP benefactor Charles Munger, Jr. have more than doubled their independent efforts in the heavily Democratic 32nd Senate District in Los Angeles County, pouring in more than $230,000 for TV ads and mailers on Wednesday. The redrawn seat overlaps much of the district of termed-out Sen. Ron Calderon, the embattled Montebello Democrat who was suspended from his post after pleading not guilty to two dozen charges including bribery, money laundering and tax fraud.

The spending, reported Thursday, either supports Republican Mario Guerra, a veteran city councilman in Downey or opposes Tony Mendoza, a former Democratic assemblyman. More than $350,000 in outside money has flowed into the race, which until recently was not considered particularly competitive, given Democrats’ 23 percentage point registration edge.

Money on behalf of Guerra and opposing Mendoza has come from the state Republican Party, Munger’s Spirit of Democracy California and JobsPAC, the committee co-chaired by the California Chamber of Commerce..........

Tuesday
Oct212014

POLITICS (NATIONAL): The return of Monica Lewinsky, report/analysis, politics, political media coverage:: "How Monica Lewinsky changed politics" ....  

* Washington Post ("The Fix"):  "How Monica Lewinsky changed politics" - From the WP:

Monica Lewinsky is back. She opened a Twitter account Monday morning.  And then she delivered a speech at the first-ever Forbes "30 under 30" event in Philadelphia, in which she declared: "I was Patient Zero. The first person to have their reputation completely destroyed worldwide via the Internet.”

That quote got me thinking about Lewinsky, her affair with President Bill Clinton in the late 1990s and what it all meant for politics and the media who cover politics.

Lewinsky, in her remarks at the Forbes summit, was focused heavily — as her quote above suggests — on the influence of sites like the Drudge Report and the rise of the social media news cycle. Here's a bit more from her on that topic, according to Forbes:

“There was no FacebookTwitter or Instagram back then. But there were gossip, news and entertainment websites replete with comment sections and emails which could be forwarded. Of course, it was all done on the excruciatingly slow dial up. Yet around the world this story went. A viral phenomenon that, you could argue, was the first moment of truly ‘social media.’ ”

Lewinsky is right. The story of her affair with the president of the United States, which turned Matt Drudge and his eponymous Web site from a nobody into a household name, was the first massive political story of the emerging Internet era of journalism.  Before Lewinsky, there were plenty of tawdry sex scandals involving politicians, but technology didn't allow them to go from local or even regional stories to national ones in a matter of moments. The Lewinsky story broke that ground — and either created a hunger among the public for those sorts of stories or simply filled a hunger that had always been there but was never sated.

But the Lewinsky story's impact is significantly wider than that.  Lewinsky — and all that came from the way that episode was covered and felt in politics — represents a critical moment in both the polarization of the country and the line between the personal and the political in media coverage.............................

Tuesday
Oct212014

POLITICS/TRANSPORTATION (County of Los Angeles): Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Kinkisharyo manufacturing plant, Palmdale: "Business leaders say labor is pushing rail car plant from L.A. County"; also, "Union demands driving railcard jobs out of California, Japanese firm says" ...

***Following up on earlier item noted here (LACMTA, Palmdale, Kinkisharyo manufacturing plant, Op-Ed: Jim Newton)....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Business leaders say labor is pushing rail car plant from L.A. County"

* Los Angeles Times:  "Union demands driving railcar jobs out of California, Japanese firm says"