Opinion: How California voters can update, improve Prop. 13

California voters have an opportunity this November to correct decades-old legislation that has resulted in deteriorated public institutions and services throughout our state. It’s time to challenge the divisive and widespread anti-tax sentiment promulgated by powerful interest groups bankrolled by wealthy donors.

The California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act is a proposed constitutional amendment that would update and improve Proposition 13, the 1978 tax law that fundamentally crippled local governments.

A contributing factor to Prop. 13’s passage was the sentiment that older Californians should not be priced out of their homes through high property taxes. However, the proposition’s underreported giveaways to big business and corporations have exacerbated inequity and inefficiency in the state’s tax structure.

The new law would keep tax rates the same for individual homeowners, but would close the business loophole. It will periodically reassess commercial and industrial properties to full market value, while safeguarding homeowners, renters and agricultural land.

Currently, just a fraction of the wealthiest landowners are benefiting from the loophole. In fact, a recent study at USC calculated that 77 percent of the new revenues will come from just 8 percent of the properties, all valued over $5 million.

Having greater and more stable revenue sources will generate innumerable benefits for our state by funding critical services and infrastructure projects, while also improving California’s development climate.

The catastrophic effects of Prop. 13 have played out in a particularly shameful way for California’s public education system, which has plummeted from No. 1 — the pride of the nation — to close to the bottom.

For example, the UC system is a powerful economic engine and a center for technical, scientific, social, and cultural advancement. However, years of budget cuts to higher education have skyrocketed tuition, cut vital services, and encouraged the use of out-of-state and international students as cash cows, putting those …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


Noteworthy: anthem furor at East Bay campus; McClymonds High rings; and Warriors in a $40 million dispute

Welcome to the weekend refrigerator surprise, where everything goes even if it smells a little funky.

Some students at San Ramon’s California High School got quite an education this week — the kind you can’t get in the classroom.

Student leadership decided last month to discontinue playing the national anthem at rallies on campus. A local decision at a local school, right?

Not on your twilight’s last gleaming.

The students, according to the school newspaper, were responding to the objection of the NAACP over lyrics in the third verse.

You didn’t know there was a third verse of the anthem, did you? I did, but only because I was a Warriors fan in the early 1970s when a gentleman named Forrest Pritchett, a friend of team owner Franklin Mieuli, sang the fourth (and final) verse before home games. Pritchett’s delivery was quite dramatic, and I came to like the fourth verse better than the first. But I digress.

In the third verse lies the lyric: “No refuge could save the hireling and slave, from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.” It is interpreted as the pursuit and killing of slaves.

Let’s start the discussion with a nod to the well-intentioned students who decided a song with a racist passage has no place on public school grounds. At a time when adolescents are beginning to develop a world view, the Cal High student leadership is putting its conviction into action.

Here is the hard lesson they are learning. One, there are some talking points that are sure to draw ire from all sides. The national anthem is a sure-fire gum-bumper. Not only has the decision to pull the anthem from rallies drawn criticism from the Cal High community, the story has been picked up by local television and regional newspapers, Snopes.com and something called ammoland.com. …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


Black Panther beats box office expectations with biggest February opening yet

The Disney-Marvel movie Black Panther smashed box office records over the weekend, instantly becoming the top-grossing film in history by a black director with global ticket sales estimated to reach $387 million by Monday after its debut weekend. Disney said the film brought in about $218 million in North America between Friday and Monday, with some theaters adding showings to meet demand. Analysts had projected an opening weekend take of $165 million in North America. The actual numbers were at a level previously unheard of for a February release, outside of the summer and holiday seasons usually reserved for the biggest blockbusters. The previous record for a February release was Deadpool’s $159 million over Presidents’ Day weekend in 2016.

…read more

Source:: The Week – Business


Voters back Google village in downtown San Jose by big margin: poll


SAN JOSE — South Bay voters overwhelmingly back Google’s plans to bring 20,000 jobs to downtown San Jose and consider those jobs — rather than the new housing that advocates want to add to the project — the most important part of the transit-oriented development, according to a new poll.

The project, which is expected to take years to develop, could reshape downtown and give San Jose an economic boost and tech star power.

“Residents are eager for the kind of transformation that a project like this can bring to our city center,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, a strong supporter of plans by Google to build offices and other amenities downtown. “It’s not just Google but also the surrounding retail, restaurants, housing and public spaces that can create a vibrant place that’s attractive to the whole community.”

When asked whether they “support or oppose Google’s plans to bring up to 20,000 jobs into downtown San Jose over a 10-year period” rather than moving jobs out of the region or state, 79 percent said they supported the proposal, while 16 percent were opposed. Five percent of those surveyed expressed no opinion. The poll of 431 registered voters in Santa Clara County was conducted for the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and this news organization.

The strong support suggests that even amid a crippling regional housing shortage, local residents remain mostly enthusiastic about the sort of economic development that some critics blame for a deterioration in the Bay Area’s quality of life.

Mountain View-based Google and its development ally, Trammell Crow, have been buying up dozens of properties near the Diridon train station and SAP Entertainment Center since December 2016.

Google’s plans to develop 6 to 8 million square feet of offices, enough to accommodate 15,000 to 20,000 employees, already appear to have sparked a surge …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


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