Opinion

The Take: Democrats control California, but can they fix potholes?

On behalf of The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board, welcome to The Take, your opinion-politics newsletter. Please sign up for it here.

Taking a ride

California legislators can ban plastic bags, stand up to Donald Trump and confront climate change, which is all good, right and relevant. But they cannot fill a pothole to save their lives? Evidently not.

Once again, the Legislature is slinking away unable to reach a deal to pay for maintaining our rutted roads (will Caltrans ever fix westbound I-80 in West Sac?), add lanes where gridlock is worst, and maybe make public transportation a little less user-unfriendly.

A bill must be in print by Nov. 25 to be considered in a special session ending Nov. 30. There are many excuses for why it’s not happening.

Some legislators want existing gas tax money spent more prudently. Some want the state to abandon the low-carbon fuel standard, having been swayed by the oil industry claim that it’s not possible.

Some believe the state should find other ways to pay for roads, such as vehicle miles traveled; that raises privacy concerns. And there is talk of raising the vehicle license fee, also known as the car tax.

“Let me clear: I don’t like any taxes,” said Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, among those who is “open” to a combination that includes higher vehicle license fees. It can be deducted from federal income taxes, and “the guy who drives a $100,000 Tesla pays more, and that’s the way it should be.”

Whatever the combination, the “issue is not going away and the situation is only going to get worse,” the Fix Our Roads Coalition said in a statement.

We could not agree more.

Take a number: 1920

California’s Assembly Democrats gained three seats on Nov. 8, and although they will have a supermajority, some groused they didn’t gain six seats. A two-thirds majority is within reach in the Senate. Democrat Josh Newman trailed Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang, R-Diamond Bar, by 187 votes at the end of last week. And yet nationally, Republicans picked up about 40 seats in legislatures around the nation, and will hold at least 4,160 of 7,383 seats, more than at any time since 1920, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The GOP controls both chambers in 32 states, an all-time high. So long as Republicans control statehouses, they will control redistricting in states without independent redistricting commissions. That means they will control Congress.

Our take

Editorial: No one wants gang members and drug dealers to be out committing crimes, with or without papers. But beyond that, Team Trump has offered little to reassure this nation of immigrants.

Editorial: Donald Trump’s national security team will only amplify his extreme positions on immigration, terrorism and Russia. He’s heading toward a #cabinetofdeplorables.

Erika D. Smith: Hey, Donald Trump supporters! Are you feeling guilty yet?

Marcos Breton: Inside Nasser Azimi’s 8,000-square-foot warehouse, you’ll find something unexpected: rows and rows of shipping containers filled with marijuana plants. Azimi has a bigger warehouse in south Sacramento, a similar setup in San Diego and two more in the works for Long Beach and the Bay Area.

Joyce Terhaar: Publicly praying? Reading news? Watching TV? The First Amendment protects our daily routines.

Ben Boychuk: While liberals obsess over Donald Trump’s alleged affronts to their cherished identity politics, conservatives are going to discover that many of the pieties they’ve held for a generation are suddenly obsolete.

Detria Thompson: Colin Kaepernick is right not to vote.

Gerald Haslam: James Baldwin more than 50 years ago pointed out that one major strategy of racists was to blame discrimination on its victims. If they’d just remain in their place, we could all go along smoothly.

Lois Wolk: California agencies must shift their flood management approach to work with nature.

Their take

San Diego Union-Tribune: About that California housing crisis: “It’s break-glass time.”

Mercury News: The Electoral College is no way to pick a president. California Sen. Barbara Boxer knows it, and so should any American voter interested in stopping the distorted way in which the United States elects its president.

L.A. Times: Kamala Harris launched a futile attack on Backpage.com. Stopping sex trafficking certainly should be a high priority for state and local law enforcement. Instead of testing the strength of the Communications Decency Act over and over, however, they should be working with federal prosecutors to try to build a case against those who knowingly provide a promotional platform for this exploitation.

Charlotte Observer: Facebook needs to take a stronger hand in tracking and flagging fake news. And Facebook users need to stop letting ideology override their common sense and critical thinking skills.

Las Vegas Sun: It was alarming to hear Kellyanne Conway suggesting the administration might pursue action against Harry Reid. If the president-elect considers it a punishable offense for any political opponent to criticize him, even if the comments are not remotely libelous or threatening, that’s a serious problem that extends well beyond Reid.

National Review: Jeff Sessions’ selection as attorney general is fitting for someone whose career in public service has been dedicated to law and order.

Syndicates’ take

Dana Milbank: Not only is fake news getting more attention than actual news, but the leading purveyor of fake news in the United States is now the president-elect.

Thomas L. Friedman: 2007 was such an innocuous year. But look again.

Nicholas Kristof: Donald Trump seems intent on blowing his chance.

Kathleen Parker: Mainstream media top the list of losers this year.

Timothy Egan: The other white people.

Paul Krugman: The Medicare killers.

David Brooks: The danger of a dominant identity.

President-elect Trump’s Twitter feed

“I watched parts of @nbcsnl Saturday Night Live last night. It is a totally one-sided, biased show - nothing funny at all. Equal time for us?” Donald J. Trump ‏@realDonaldTrump

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