FROM Dan Morain
Another Top State Regulator Gets the Boot The South Coast Air Quality Management District Board voted Friday to fire its long-time executive officer, Barry Wallerstein. Wallerstein was at the helm of the agency for nearly 20 years. And his removal happened behind closed doors on the coattails of a 7-6 party-line vote.
Playing Politics with Plastic Bags Last year, the legislature passed and Governor Brown signed a ban on plastic bags in California. The ban won't go into effect unless voters approve it -- but that wasn't enough. The plastic bag industry protested and gathered enough signatures to put a measure on next year's ballot, and is now gathering signatures for a second measure — which could lead to widespread confusion. (We asked the plastic bag makers who wrote the initiatives to appear on our program, but they declined our invitation.)
Hollywood: Where the Jobs and Tax Breaks Are The first Friday of the month is when we get the jobs report from the Labor Department. A lackluster one, nationally. But here in Southern California, some optimism about film and TV production jobs staying local, instead of being exported to other parts of the country.
Governor Brown, Molly Munger and the Future of Public Education Between now and election day in November, we'll be hearing a lot about the fate of public education in California. Two ballot measures are competing to increase taxes and distribute the new revenues in different ways. There is no question that the proposals are serious or that the stakes are high. Proposition 30 was placed on the ballot by Governor Jerry Brown. Prop 38 is the creation of a wealthy Los Angeles lawyer named Molly Munger . Both have appeared before editorial boards of major newspapers, including the Sacramento Bee , where Dan Morain is a senior editor. We hear from him and advocates for each measure.
What's Wrong with California's Republican Party? California's newest Republican state senator is Sam Blakeslee , who represents Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Luis Obispo. But he says his own party's insiders require "litmus tests" and "fear the rise of strong independent Republicans who don't kiss their ring." Dan Morain, senior opinion editor for the Sacramento Bee , says, "The big tent envisioned by Ronald Reagan has become a pup tent."
Campaign Spending: Trial Lawyers and the Insurance Industry California's Insurance Commissioner is an elected official who overseas a $124 billion market of automobile, home and life insurance. Federal healthcare reform could provide even more power to Sacramento Democrat Dave Jones or Mike Villines of Fresno. Ten years ago, Republican Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quakenbush was run out of California. After taking $8 million in campaign contributions from the insurance industry, he allowed victims of the Northridge earthquake to get far less than they were entitled to. Jones and Villines, both termed-out assembly members running to be Commissioner, have said they won't take insurance-company money. Both claim to be pro-consumer, but their attitudes toward new regulations on health insurance are starkly different.
The Presidential Candidates on the Economy A front-page headline in today's New York Times says, " Parties Differ on Whom Economic Aid Should Help ." But the story goes on to say that when a presidential campaign coincides with both a Wall Street crisis and soaring home foreclosures, "traditional ideological battles… become blurred." Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have unveiled government rescue plans for homeowners at costs of about $30 billion. John McCain says it's "not the duty of government to bail out and reward," but he supports the Federal Reserve's plan to lend banks and investment firms up to $400 billion. Are the parties as different as the rhetoric makes them sound? Why is Wall Street contributing more to Obama and Clinton than McCain?
Democratic Candidates Race for California Money For decades, California's June presidential primaries have done nothing more than ratify the decisions of other states. Next year could be different, if the legislature and Governor Schwarzenegger move the date up to February the 8. In the meantime, California is still the ATM where candidates come to withdraw campaign money--especially Democrats, as Dan Morain writes in the Los Angeles Times .
Janesville and the American Dream Janesville, Wisconsin is the hometown of Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. But he couldn’t prevent the closing of the General Motors factory after 100 years. On this Memorial Day rebroadcast of To the Point, we hear what’s happened to what once was a model of American middle-class unity.
Is the threat from Russia missing from the Russia meddling probe? There's much being made about the Trump administration's possible ties with Russia. But the bottom line is Russia's effort to influence American democracy. Do the President and his aides care enough to take action before voters go back to the polls?
Replacing Obamacare: Now you see it… now you don’t As the Senate deliberates replacing Obmacare, health coverage for millions of people is at stake. There've been no public hearings, and a draft measure won't be made public. Is the House version so unpopular that that Senate is hiding a version that looks much the same?