How far can California go to get around that awful Republican tax law? Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León will introduce the Protect California Taxpayers Act today, in hopes of helping taxpayers get around the cap on deductions for state and local income and property taxes. It’s a nice idea, but ultimately, comes across as a short-term solution likely to get slammed by the IRS.
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Foon Rhee: Mayor Steinberg dials for dollars differently than Kevin Johnson. Does that make it OK? Darrell Steinberg has raised more than $2 million in behests for his favorite charities – a practice that got his predecessor in hot water. But there are some big distinctions, and the mayor has a reputation for integrity.
Dan Walters, CALmatters: The size and cultural complexity of California spawns many unique political conflicts, and none more so than a years-long, multiparty squabble within the nation’s largest judicial system. The new year will doubtless see renewal of the power struggle.
Miriam Gordon and Nick Lapis: Just as the industry eliminated pop-tops from soda cans, it can deal with bottled water caps, which litter our streets and beaches. If it doesn’t, the Legislature should step in.
Lauren Navarro: As the state Legislature reconvened Wednesday, all eyes will be on Senate Bill 100. There needs to be compromise between labor unions and companies that make and sell solar panels.
Susan Sward: Seven years ago in Los Angeles County’s Antelope Valley, as sheriff’s deputies increasingly targeted African Americans in Section 8 housing, the Rev. V. Jesse Smith began to fear that a concerted move was underway to push poor black people out of the cities of Palmdale and Lancaster. Four years later, an Orange County public defender named Scott Sanders, representing a man who killed eight people in a Seal Beach beauty salon, discovered that government officials had secretly moved a longtime informant next to his client in the jail to elicit a confession from him. A deeper look revealed the county had for years been corrupting the judicial system. In a different time, the two cases might have been dismissed as a cost of keeping the peace in a big-city suburb. Instead, this time, the two cases drew the attention of the Obama administration’s Department of Justice. Obama-era reforms are improving law enforcement. So why is Donald Trump ending them?
Eleni Kounalakis: For decades, our region has been a place where families could achieve the dream of homeownership. One project I worked on had nearly 1,500 home sites, with the average home price under $250,000. These were quality homes for so many working class families. Then the recession hit and took a serious toll. Many Californians lost one or both household incomes – racking up credit card debt and student loans to bridge the bad years. And even though jobs came back, they were different. How will ‘Lady Bird,’ and young people like her, return to Sacramento if California’s housing crisis puts homes out of reach?
Jack Ohman sees Donald Trump and Steve Bannon going nuclear over Washington, D.C. Watch the fireworks here.
Take a number: 6
California voters will have ballots and instructions in six new languages at some polling places in 2018, Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced. For the first time, ballots will be translated into Panjabi, Hmong, Syriac, Armenian, Persian and Arabic in precincts where at least 3 percent of the voting-age population read those languages and don’t know enough English to vote without assistance. In Sacramento County, there will be Hmong ballots in 93 precincts and Panjabi ballots in 59. “Elections are the cornerstone of our democracy and voting rights include access to voting information in a voter’s preferred language,” Padilla said in a statement Tuesday. It’s yet another sign of California’s ever-growing diversity – something to be proud of and cherish, no matter what a certain person in the White House seems to think. – Foon Rhee, @foonrhee
Los Angeles Times: The federal Wilderness Act of 1964 was not vague about its intent: to protect significant and as-yet unspoiled land and wildlife habitat from the ravages of “an increasing population, accompanied by expanding settlement and growing mechanization.” Now, Congressman Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove, who represents wilderness areas in the Sierra Mountains, is proposing a rule change to allow mountain bikers to cruise through the approximately 109 million acres of land designated as wilderness across the country. It’s a bad idea – if for no other reason than it cracks open the door for other changes that violate the spirit of the Wilderness Act.
Orange County Register: Not for the first time, an effort is underway to persuade voters to “reform” Proposition 13 and raise property taxes. “The California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act of 2018” aims to raise $11 billion per year by removing Prop. 13 protections from industrial and commercial properties, reassessing them based on the unrealized, paper profits from rising real estate values. However well-intentioned the backers of this initiative may be, it is reckless to impose a massive tax increase on nearly all California businesses, simultaneously and repeatedly.
San Francisco Chronicle: For a president who sounds off on every subject, the fight against AIDS and HIV should be a handy topic. Medical treatments are prolonging life and American overseas aid is a welcome and successful program. But President Trump is quiet on the topic, and he’s making the silence even more pronounced. In the sleepy week between the holidays, the White House dismissed the remaining members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.
Lexington Herald-Leader: Many, apparently most, House Republicans want to allow their on-again, off-again Speaker Jeff Hoover due process. That is reasonable, though politically risky since Democrats will have a field day with the sexual harassment claim against the House’s top Republican. Suffice it to say that political intrigue is thick under the Capitol dome as this session and legislative election year get rolling. What’s not reasonable or acceptable is the assertion that this drama can or should play out in private.
Gail Collins, The New York Times: If it wasn’t for the exploding-planet aspect of all this, it’d be sort of funny. We have here two very silly egomaniacs, Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.
E.J. Dionne Jr., The Washington Post: President Trump is, without question, doing enormous damage to the United States’ standing in the world, and his strategy for political survival is rooted in a willingness to destroy our institutions.
Ross Douthat, The New York Times: Mitt Romney was part of #HowYouGotTrump, and what he might have to offer today depends to some extent on whether he realizes it, and whether he’s learned anything from his presidential defeat and the weirdness that’s engulfed his party since.
Dana Milbank, The Washington Post: 2018 was only seven hours and 12 minutes old when President Donald Trump launched his first verbal attack of the year on a foreign country.
Ed Rogers, The Washington Post: There are plenty of fair questions about whether favoritism and a willful desire to ignore material violations of the law occurred during the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
Martin Schram, Tribune News: Only Republican leaders have the position and stature to take the action required to safeguard our United States homeland, to potentially save the lives of millions of people in South Korea and to preserve the fragile fabric of world peace.
Paul Waldman, The Washington Post: Two articles released Wednesday show how much harder it’s going to get for President Trump and his allies, because they cast light on a Trump campaign acting like it knew it was doing something wrong on Russia.
“What’s the NRA’s solution to keeping guns out of the hands of ‘good guys’ who snap? Self-defense?” – David Fenimore, Reno
“Sen. Tony Mendoza temporarily stepped down until the end of the month in light of sexual harassment allegations involving 3 former female employees. – Taryn Luna @tarynluna
“Mendoza: ‘no inappropriate bodily contact.’ Apparently, he wasn't paying attention in sexual harassment training, as contact is not required.” – Scott Lay @scottlay
“Opting for a slower political death.....” – Rob Stutzman @RobStutzman
“Assemblyman Mike Duvall and Senator Tony Mendoza are both planning to return to the Legislature on February 1.” – Matt Rexroad @MattRexroad