Opinion

A politicians’ sinecure, Ann Coulter’s hustle, and a gift to truckers

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

Our take

Editorials

Your tax dollars at work paying for politicians’ sinecures: Experts have been calling for restructuring of the Board of Equalization for decades. It survives in part because legislators, always thinking about the next election, hesitate to abolish an office that pays $142,577 a year.

Six ways Trump could score on health care: You win some, you lose some, and House Republicans and President Donald Trump appear to have lost the fight over the Affordable Care Act. But remembering another adage – if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em – might flip that loss into a win.

Modesto Bee: Why bring Coulter’s commercialized hate into our home?: We don’t blame Ann Coulter for coming to Modesto. She’s getting paid, and it’s clear she would endure just about anything to collect a paycheck.

Columns

Dan Morain: From her home outside the no-stoplight settlement of Fiddletown, Sue Wilson tilted at a corporate windmill, and a funny thing happened.

Dan Walters: Republicans once dominated California’s politics but over last two decades have become increasingly irrelevant as California became a very blue state. Latest voter registration data indicates that voters without a party preference could outnumber Republicans by next year’s elections.

Marcos Breton: Sheriff Scott Jones said he invited Thomas Homan to the immigration forum to allay deportation fears among community members, a goal that failed miserably.

Op-eds

Kristina McKibben: Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones contracts with ICE to hold people in jail who are awaiting immigration proceedings, but the sheriff goes one step further by allowing ICE free access to the jail.

Peter Asmus: Approving the Keystone XL pipeline may not pan out since the declining price of oil has made this project uneconomical. The second executive order, which dismantles the “Clean Power Plan,” would benefit coal-fired energy plants, but many are being retired because the economics no longer pencil out. Wind, solar and natural gas are all lower cost options.

Akhilesh Pathipati: Quality remains the biggest concern with telemedicine. Incorrect diagnoses, inappropriate treatments and unlicensed providers threaten patient safety and undermine the credibility of telemedicine as a delivery model.

Mark Drolette: I’ve grown increasingly dismayed at being dismissed, along with others of my generation, simply as a fusty stick-in-the-mud who jerks a knee whenever change around Sacramento is promoted.

Rob Turner: There are no good excuses for Sacramento not to have protected bike lanes. Whatever we’re doing to create a bike-friendly city simply isn’t happening fast enough. But there is hope.

Roger Dickinson: Senate Bill 1 will invest $52.4 billion over the next decade to fix California’s crumbling roads and bridges, and will create tens of thousands of jobs. The plan includes funding to modernize and expand public transit systems.

Their take

L.A. Times: If the transportation funding proposal unveiled this week by Gov. Jerry Brown and state legislative leaders simply contained the gas tax hikes and vehicle fees outlined in their press releases and statements, then of course lawmakers should support the proposal. But the news releases and political speeches did not mention that the bill contains an unusual change. Added at the last minute at the trucking industry’s behest, it would block regulations that would force truck owners to upgrade to less polluting models.

Daniel Borenstein, East Bay Times: The transportation proposal will test whether Democrats can leverage the new supermajority they won in the November elections. The answer is uncertain.

Santa Rosa Press Democrat: Something needs to be done to prevent Santa Rosa neighborhoods from becoming the latest battlegrounds over the regulation of the pot industry. As residents of Mendocino and Lake counties have already learned – as demonstrated by their ballot box skirmishes over regulatory controls – living next door to someone growing cannabis outdoors, even small crops, can present unique challenges.

Orange County Register: We shouldn’t build a moat around UC campuses to keep out the non-Californians. But neither should the University of California become the University of Everywhere Else. That’s why UC officials’ proposal to essentially reserve 80 percent of the undergraduate classroom seats at their campuses for actual Californians is a good and reasonable one. The Sacramento Bee and L.A. Times agree.

Raleigh News & Observer: The Senate hearings on Russia are “a career make-or-break test” for the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr.

Lexington Herald Leader: When companies that sell internet access – like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon – spent millions supporting GOP candidates, compliant Republicans gave them what they wanted: the right to sell their customers’ information.

Kansas City Star: U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder of Kansas broke ranks and sided with 190 Democrats (and 14 Republicans) when he voted against allowing internet providers to snoop on users and sell their personal online history. Instead of playing partisan politics, he tried to do right by his constituents.

Salt Lake City Tribune: Orrin Hatch came to the Senate the same year Jimmy Carter came to the White House. Carter has spent the last 36 years building homes for poor people and wiping out diseases in Africa. Hatch is still right where we put him all those years ago. Enough already.

Miami Herald: Though other NFL team owners voted to allow the Oakland Raiders to move to Las Vegas, Stephen Ross says he didn’t think that the team had done all it could to find a workable solution to accommodate loyal fans.

LA Times takes on Trump

LA Times: Protesters must raise their banners. Voters must turn out for elections. Members of Congress — including and especially Republicans — must find the political courage to stand up to Trump. Courts must safeguard the Constitution. State legislators must pass laws to protect their citizens and their policies from federal meddling. All of us who are in the business of holding leaders accountable must redouble our efforts to defend the truth from his cynical assaults.

Syndicates’ take

Leonard Pitts Jr.: I could insult Bill O’Reilly, like he did Rep. Maxine Waters, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll offer some unsolicited advice.

Frank Bruni: A real man lusts. A real man rages. A real man doesn’t chip in with domestic duties. That’s not just Trump’s view – he once boasted that he’d never change a diaper – but also, apparently, the message that many young men in America today still get.

Gail Collins: People Donald Trump hangs around with are watching their reputations crumble into smithereens. Let’s go through the list.

Nicholas Kristof: Democrats gleeful at the prospect of winning penitent voters back should take a deep breath. These voters may be irritated, but they remain loyal to Trump.

Ross Douthat: Because a core weakness of this White House, more devastating (for now) than the pugilistic tweets and permanent swirl of scandal is the absence of anyone who seems to have thought through how one might translate Trumpism.

Dana Milbank: Banning unhelpful words and phrases could, if used on a large enough scale, be just the solution President Donald Trump needs to rescue his administration from historic levels of unpopularity.

Kathleen Parker: In his political career Charles D. “Pug” Ravenel, who died last week, lost and lost – and then lost some more. Which surprised everyone who knew him because Pug had always been known for winning.

E.J. Dionne: The drift on the right toward Vladimir Putin is remarkable. Putin seems especially interested in creating a new international political alliance focused on conservatives and the far right.

Ruben Navarrette: Mark Halperin has zeroed in on something dangerous: the changing role of the media. He told The Hill that reporters “should not be combatants trying to beat the people we’re covering.”

David Brooks: We haven’t entered the age of milquetoast bourgeois relativism. Instead, society has become a free-form demolition derby of moral confrontation.

Paul Krugman: Why does an industry that is no longer a major employer even in West Virginia retain such a hold on the region’s imagination and lead its residents to vote overwhelmingly against their own interests?

Mailbag

“Sheriff Scott Jones and ICE Director Thomas Homan did nothing to increase our understanding or trust.” – Barbara & Terry Allen-Brecher, Sacramento

And finally

Equal Pay Day is Tuesday, a day to consider the status of women and pay. So Foon Rhee took a look at when women in California will reach pay parity with men if current trends hold: 2043. The wait could be even longer in nearly every other state, the latest Numbers Crunch shows.

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