Money pours into governor’s race as pro-Villaraigosa group hits the airwaves

Get ready, California voters: A deluge of political TV ads is headed your way as candidates scramble for position in a crowded primary election and deep-pocketed donors rush to prop them up.

Millions of dollars have poured into the campaign for governor in recent weeks, kicking the race into high gear with a month and a half until the June 5 primary. It’s a sign of the increasingly competitive fight for second place behind Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom — a struggle for political survival, as only the top two candidates will advance to the general election.

“It’s about to start raining down ads,” said Rob Stutzman, a GOP strategist in Sacramento. “I’m a little surprised it hasn’t begun earlier.”

The first drops fell Thursday, as a pro-charter school committee hit the airwaves with a new ad backing former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Several prominent charter school supporters — Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Los Angeles philanthropist Eli Broad and former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan — have funneled a combined $9.5 million into the committee over the last week and a half.

That’s more than Villaraigosa’s campaign raised in all of 2016 and 2017, and helps cut down the $13.6 million financial advantage Newsom held over Villaraigosa at the end of 2017. The committee is run by the California Charter Schools Association, a pro-charter group. It can accept unlimited donations but can’t coordinate with Villaraigosa’s campaign.

In a field of Democratic candidates who have only a handful of major disagreements on policy issues, the substantial funding could place more of a focus on charter school policy. Villaraigosa was a strong supporter of charters in Los Angeles. Newsom, the frontrunner in the race, has called for stricter transparency rules for charter schools and has been endorsed by the powerful and charter-skeptical California Teachers Association.

The new pro-Villaraigosa ad …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


Pitts: What happened in Starbucks isn’t really about Starbucks

I don’t drink coffee, so I can’t boycott Starbucks. But I wouldn’t if I could.

Yes, I understand — and share — the national anger over viral video of last week’s arrest of two African-American men at one of the company’s Philadelphia stores. The men, who have yet to be identified, were reportedly doing nothing more threatening than waiting quietly to be joined by a man they were meeting there, having asked to use the restroom and been refused. Their waiting apparently scared the bejeezus out of the manager, who called police.

Cellphone video of the incident shows a white guy asking if the men are being arrested because “they were black guys, sitting there.”

An officer, attempting facetiousness, says yes.

But his facetiousness is misplaced because obviously, that’s exactly why they were arrested. On the video the white customers are upset, but the men accept it placidly, as befits veterans of the exhausting job of Being While Black.

Now Starbucks faces a public-relations nightmare as people swear off its lattes and macchiatos. Protesters have appeared at the Philadelphia store. “Starbucks Coffee is Anti-Black” they chanted. “Shame on Starbucks,” one sign declared.

But Starbucks isn’t the point.

To pretend it is is a comforting fiction. It allows the company to apologize, vow to do better and move on. It allows protesters to feel righteous at having proven they will not tolerate intolerance.

Meantime, we know as a statistical matter of fact that somewhere, a little boy was just suspended from school for a minor infraction because he is black.

A desperately ill woman was just denied sufficient medication to ease her pain because she is black.

A highly qualified applicant was just passed over for the job of her dreams because she is black.

And sometime soon, another unarmed man will be shot by police because he is black.

Most of it …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


How to beat the NIMBYs without handing over cities to developers

Earlier this week, an ambitious housing bill failed badly in the California legislature, voted down in its very first committee hearing. The opposition from a coalition of traditional wealthy NIMBYs and some environmentalist and tenant rights groups proved far too strong.

The proponents of the bill are right about many things, and will certainly come in for another try soon. But they would be well advised to take a hard look at their political strategy and basic structure of the bill. Why empower private developers to build more when the government could do much of the building itself?

Let’s start with the bill’s contents. It would have provided for mandatory increases in allowable density (or “upzoning”) near public transit, overriding local rules for areas within half a mile of a high-frequency stop, or within a quarter mile of a bus or transit corridor. Given the spacing of those things, the bill would apply to a huge amount of California cities — about half of the single-family homes in Los Angeles, for instance.

So what’s the problem?

First, while It is definitely true that California very badly needs more housing, private development is not the only way to get there. Indeed, this bill would have benefited tremendously from adding some Vienna-style social housing — that is, municipal-owned housing for which all residents are eligible, not just the poor.

As I explain with Peter Gowen, social housing is strictly superior to private development for addressing the housing crisis along almost every metric. That’s because state and even local governments have a much smaller cost of capital than private developers, most cities have a lot of suitable land they already own (meaning zero acquisition costs in many cases), they require no profit margin, and crucially, such projects can be aimed directly …read more

Source:: The Week – Politics


Will Trump ever pay a price for his relentless flip-flopping?

Before Donald Trump arrived in Washington with his lowered standards and upended norms, one of the worst sins you could commit in American politics was to become known as a “flip-flopper.”

You remember the presidential election of 2004, right? John Kerry offered a stiff challenge to the incumbent, George W. Bush, but ultimately lost a close campaign. One of the things that did Kerry in: A reputation for fecklessness, supported by his defense of a vote against Iraq War funding — “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.”

It was a moment the Bush campaign used to devastating effect, relentlessly airing a commercial that showed Kerry on a sailboard, drifting along the waves — first to the right, then to the left, then to the right, then again to the left. “John Kerry,” the announcer intoned. “Whichever way the wind blows.” Kerry never quite recovered.

How times have changed.

On Tuesday, President Trump announced via Twitter that the United States would not be re-entering the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade pact with 11 other countries, including Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. “I don’t like the deal for the United States,” Trump wrote.

Trump’s announcement was a change of position from the previous week, when he directed his top trade and economic advisers to take a fresh look at the TPP, offering hope to trade advocates that he might be ready to cut a deal. And that position was a reversal of one of his very first acts in office — withdrawing the United States from trade treaty it had spent years helping craft.

Flip. Flop. Flip.

“The president is a guy who likes to … entertain a lot of different ideas,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said, testing the limits of understatement.

That’s not even the Trump administration’s only reversal …read more

Source:: The Week – Politics


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