By George Skelton | PUBLISHED: November 11, 2018 at 7:30 am | UPDATED: November 11, 2018 at 7:30 am What kind of governor will Gavin Newsom be? An innovative progressive? A pragmatic moderate? An empty suit? It’s anyone’s guess. Everyone knew what to anticipate from Gov. Jerry Brown and he met expectations. Arnold Schwarzenegger was a celebrity showman and governed like it. Gray Davis had been an uncharismatic Sacramento fixture for 24 years. Pete Wilson and George Deukmejian had solid records in major elective office. Ronald Reagan had never held office, but had been preaching his political beliefs for years. Pat Brown was a career politician. Newsom was mayor of San Francisco, but that job has little relevance to being governor of the state with the world’s fifth largest economy. Then he became an ignored potted plant as lieutenant governor. And because Newsom didn’t have a competitive general-election race, he jogged and was never forced to commit himself … [Read more...] about Skelton: Newsom is a potential rock star, but can he perform?
By George Skelton | Los Angeles Times November 2, 2018 at 6:15 am California voters have the U.S. president trumped. They can change the state Constitution on their own. The president has no power to amend the U.S. Constitution. That’s elementary bonehead civics. But President Trump seemed to be ignorant of his limits when he fantasized the other day about issuing an executive order to abolish so-called birthright citizenship. That would be unconstitutional. Californians, however, have the power to amend the state Constitution by voting on ballot propositions. Two proposed constitutional amendments are among the 11 ballot props on Tuesday’s state ballot. Both should be rejected. Proposition 5 would amend property tax laws to greatly benefit homeowners who are at least 55, severely disabled or disaster victims. They could sell their homes and carry their Proposition 13 tax break with them to another house anywhere in the state, even if it was more expensive. And they … [Read more...] about Skelton: How Californians should vote on 11 ballot propositions
By George Skelton | Los Angeles Times October 30, 2018 at 12:15 pm By George SkeltonLos Angeles Times It’s a strange election for state offices. The race for governor is a boring jog. The most intriguing contests are for relatively obscure posts. State insurance commissioner, state superintendent of public instruction and lieutenant governor — those races are much more interesting than the pillow fight for governor. So are some of the ballot propositions — particularly measures to repeal a gas tax increase, greatly expand rent control and provide residential property tax breaks for seniors. None of these contests has been drawing nearly as much interest as brawls in previous state elections, for two principal reasons: One, all eyes and ears have been on President Trump. He’s not on the ballot, but he’s up front in every voter’s mind. Two, the Republican Party has virtually collapsed in California and isn’t producing competitive statewide … [Read more...] about Skelton: Races that may shape California for years to come
By George Skelton | PUBLISHED: October 30, 2018 at 6:15 am | UPDATED: October 30, 2018 at 6:18 am Let’s be honest, what the job of lieutenant governor amounts to is a nice sounding title and a possible steppingstone to the real governor’s office. Other than that, it’s pretty much how FDR’s vice president, John Nance Garner, described his job: “Not worth a pitcher of warm spit.” Only Garner probably didn’t say “spit.” America needs a VP — someone who can quickly step in as commander in chief and leader of the free world. That is, assuming the country has such a global leader, which it doesn’t now. But the lieutenant governor’s position should have been tossed in the dumpster long ago. As a gubernatorial backup, we could use another elected state official whose office truly is important. Like attorney general. That’s never going to happen, however. Politicians like the office because they think it can be a … [Read more...] about Skelton: Why California lieutenant governor’s race matters
By George Skelton | PUBLISHED: October 15, 2018 at 12:15 pm | UPDATED: October 15, 2018 at 12:20 pm Call it a Christmas tree or a candy shop, Proposition 3 has a nice gift for almost everyone, especially eastern San Joaquin Valley farmers. The Nov. 6 ballot initiative would authorize the largest water bond in California history, $8.9 billion. Add in $8.4 billion for interest payments and the total reaches $17.3 billion. That’s $430 million annually for 40 years. Proposition 3 is the product of a classic pay-to-play operation. It’s probably not what Gov. Hiram Johnson envisioned when he and Progressive reformers created California’s direct democracy system more than a century ago. Those reforms included the initiative, referendum and recall. The idea was to empower citizens to fight special interests — not to provide the interests with another tool to buy themselves public benefits. Under pay to play, an initiative creator shops his draft proposal to interest … [Read more...] about Skelton: No state oversight on spending $8.9B in Prop 3 — the largest water bond in California history