Gas taxes rise + Eric Garcetti helps Villaraigosa + Robert Mueller’s investigation

Our take


Gas taxes just increased. Now Caltrans needs to prove we’re not wasting our money: The gas tax hike will be the stuff of talk radio chatter. People may curse Gov. Jerry Brown. But we have ignored our roads and other infrastructure for too long, and the bill is coming due.

Take a number: 50 percent-plus

Jon Coupal, having announced Tuesday that his Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is joining the effort to qualify an initiative to repeal the gas tax that increased as of Wednesday, told The Take that more conservatives are about to hop aboard. Our guess is that Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, will fund it. Issa’s chief strategist, Dave Gilliard, is consultant to the initiative. Coupal would not identify the supporters beyond saying they are “Congressional Republicans.” He also said chances that the measure will qualify are “well above 50 percent.”

Jack Ohman conspires to figure out the real Donald Trump conspiracy. The truth is here.


Andrew Malcolm, McClatchy D.C.: Democrats lost control of the House. They lost control of the Senate. They lost control of the White House. This is important far beyond any political rooting interest. Our democracy needs at least two parties, two vibrant, imperfect, competing political organizations as a check on the other.

Dan Walters, CalMatters: That sigh you hear is Antonio Villaraigosa’s relief that Eric Garcetti won’t be running for governor next year. Garcetti, the current mayor of Los Angeles, would have been a strong contender vis-à-vis Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the frontrunner in all polls. But the most immediate beneficiary of Garcetti’s weekend announcement of non-candicacy is Villaraigosa.


State Sen. Richard Pan: Elected officials, health care workers and community leaders are working every day to support Covered California to provide more options for competitive rates. We have one of the most successful health insurance marketplaces in the nation.

California Forum

Jane Braxton Little: The Klamath River’s Blue Creek watershed is imperiled by climate change and deregulation. But this ‘Jerusalem and Mecca’ of the Yurok People could be saved by a novel partnership between the Western Rivers Conservancy and the tribe.

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Their take

Charlotte Observer: The Trump administration has had the most erratic, unpredictable start to a presidency in recent memory. But it has been consistent on one thing: that “both sides” have equally important, legitimate points-of-view, no matter if there is a dispute over the rise of white supremacy in 21st century America or 19th century slavery. Just weeks after President Donald Trump claimed that there were good, decent people among the white supremacists in Virginia who organized a demonstration that ended in the death of a woman protesting their bigotry, his chief of staff doubled-down on that sentiment during an interview on the Fox News Channel Monday night.

Arizona Republic: Special counsel Robert Mueller began draining a swamp that the president would rather leave unexplored. America needs to know what’s at the bottom. The investigation is about foreign interference in our 2016 election – a matter of national security.

Santa Rosa Press Democrat: Say this for the indictments unveiled Monday by Special Counsel Robert Mueller: They aren’t fake news or the product of a partisan witch hunt. There is no smoking gun, but the detailed indictment naming two high-ranking former campaign officials, and the guilty plea of a campaign adviser, are evidence that Mueller is making steady progress in his investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials seeking to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.

Chicago Tribune: Americans love their national parks. Last year, these lands attracted 331 million people – a record number and an increase of 7.7 percent over 2015. But the national parks have a backlog of more than $11 billion in deferred maintenance – things that need to be repaired, renovated or replaced. With the federal budget running a $666 billion deficit in the fiscal year that just ended, the National Park Service is not about to get a huge infusion of money from the Treasury. So the Interior Department has proposed a more plausible source: higher fees for the people who use the parks.

Los Angeles Times: President Donald Trump’s long-anticipated announcement addressing the epidemic of opioid addiction was – ah, how to put this diplomatically – more talk than walk. It was good to hear Trump frame the problem as a public health emergency, not a criminal justice one – a departure from the bad old “war on drugs” days. But there just wasn’t much to his announcement other than vague commitments, troubling insinuations and missed opportunities.

San Diego Union-Tribune: In the two weeks since 147 women released a letter denouncing the state Capitol’s culture of sexual harassment and assault, many current and former state lawmakers have said and done the right thing, expressing sorrow and alarm at the prevalence of the problem. But some – including Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg – have said they didn’t witness and were unaware of the extent of the misconduct. Maybe this is because Steinberg and those others steered clear of a pervasive after-hours culture that has been present in Sacramento for decades. But another reason is Capitol practices are designed to protect lawmakers’ reputations.

Syndicates’ take

Jonathan Bernstein: The normal reaction from members of Congress to bad news for a same-party president isn’t to duck and hide. It’s to adopt the White House’s talking points. Instead? Mostly some mumbling about letting the system take its course. At least two senators even explicitly supported special counsel Robert Mueller. That’s very, very bad news for President Trump.

Thomas L. Friedman: President Trump doesn’t connect dots – even when they’re big, fat polka dots that are hard to miss. Rather, he thinks inside narrow little boxes built from his own simplistic impulses and applause lines – and that tendency is leading us into a web of contradictions abroad. Niger is a perfect example.

Dana Milbank: Though not abandoning the there-is-no-collusion defense, the White House is already elevating a secondary position – the OK-maybe-we-colluded-but-Clinton-colluded-more defense.

Kathleen Parker: Contrary to President Trump’s dismissive, never-heard-of-him shrug, George Papadopoulos was also known within the campaign as Trump’s foreign affairs adviser. He may be the key to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Eugene Robinson: Robert Mueller and his all-star squad of prosecutors managed to keep their engagement with George Papadopoulos secret. It also signals to Trump and his attorneys that they don’t have anything close to a full picture of what Mueller is up to. Have others connected with the Trump campaign been squeezed for information in a similar way?

Jennifer Rubin: Members of Congress should not lose track of President Trump’s inability to uphold his oath. The jaw-dropping evidence of manifest recklessness, incompetence and contempt for the rule of law cannot be ignored.

Paul Waldman: Many people hear “collusion” and think about something akin to the legal concept of “conspiracy,” which is when two or more people agree to commit an illegal act. But there can be collusion that doesn’t involve law-breaking. Special counsel Robert Mueller may not, at least in so many words, give us a final “yes” or “no” on whether there was collusion.


“When will Republicans realize their leaders do not have our best interests in mind?” – Powell Svendsen, Rancho Murieta

Tweet of the day

“If Donald Trump fires Robert Mueller, he should be impeached. Period.” – Preet Bharara‏ @PreetBharara