Opinion

Election opinions + 2018 prospects + Driverless cars + The death of a homeless man

Our take

Columns

Foon Rhee: Why to be excited about driverless electric cars, but also a little afraid. Sacramento wants to become a prime testing ground for autonomous vehicles and also has big plans to be a research center and test city for electric cars. That promises to be good for the climate and traffic, but there are pitfalls.

Marcos Breton: How Sacramento leaders feuded, rejected “haters” and made a historic deal to fight homelessness.

Dan Walters, CalMatters: It’s doubtful whether more than a relative handful of Californians have heard of the Unemployment Insurance Fund. It is, however, one of state government’s largest activities – and a case study in political mismanagement.

California Forum

Hedrick Smith: Democrats trounced Trump Republicans in last week’s elections. But has GOP gerrymandering already rigged the outcome in 2018?

Kelly O’Neill: A homeless man dies in Sacramento, and a community asks: What more could we have done?

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Jack Ohman casts off on the tax bill. Drop anchor here.

Op-eds

Osha Meserve and Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla: Any compromise must provide benefits to all. And any version of WaterFix – whether one tunnel or two – will sacrifice the health and safety of communities and wildlife in the Delta, the San Francisco Bay and Southern California.

Micah Grant: The recent labor spat in Sacramento Unified School District reveals a fundamental problem that prevents our public schools from creating a culture of excellence: Teachers are paid based on their time on the job instead of the value they bring to the classroom.

Take a number: 54 percent

Transgender candidates made history Tuesday by winning at least five elections around the country. They included Lisa Middleton, who won a seat on the Palm Springs City Council to become the first openly transgender person to win a non-judicial office in California.

But what one advocacy group is calling the “year of the trans candidate” doesn’t mean there’s overwhelming public acceptance. In a new poll released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center, 54 percent of Americans said whether someone is a man or woman is determined by their gender at birth. At the same time, 37 percent said they know someone who is transgender.

As with so many social issues, there’s a deep partisan divide. While 80 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents say a person’s gender is set at birth, 64 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say a person’s gender can be different. Among college-educated Democrats, that number rises to 77 percent. Foon Rhee, @foonrhee

Election takes

Virginian-Pilot: Those who seek to lead should choose a more responsible course, one that emphasizes all we have in common rather than exploiting that which divides. That was Ralph S. Northam’s platform when he began his campaign in 2015 and, while the road was bumpier than he might have expected or commonwealth voters might have preferred, it’s what will see him inaugurated as Virginia’s chief executive come January.

NorthJersey.com: New Jersey has a new governor: Phil Murphy. He’s a progressive Democrat who has never held elected office. And while we cannot say whether he will be successful in stabilizing the public employee pension system, reducing the tax burden on middle-class New Jerseyans or improving public schools – all of which he has promised do – we can say this: He’s not Chris Christie.

Peter St. Onge, Charlotte Observer: Republican mayoral candidate Kenny Smith raised money, did the legwork, picked the right issue (infrastructure), had solid City Council cred, had a shaky Democratic mayor in office – and still lost by a bunch Tuesday night to your next Charlotte mayor, Vi Lyles. What happened? Let’s piece some clues together.

Seattle Times: Here’s a reality check: If Democrats win full control of the Legislature, it won’t give Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee a green light to enact every progressive tax he’s had his eye on these past few years. Nor will it cause the state to go to hell in a socialist, tax-happy handbasket, as Republicans have alleged in ads throughout the campaign season.

Seattle Times: The election of Jenny Durkan as Seattle mayor offers the best hope in years of improving the city’s business climate, which cannot be taken for granted and needs tending.

Their take

Los Angeles Times: Two years ago the state Legislature passed a law banning so-called personal belief exemptions that many parents were using to keep their children from being vaccinated because they believed – wrongly – that vaccines were linked to autism and other serious health problems. But even as the number of personal belief exemptions fell to zero, the number of medical exemptions has skyrocketed. That’s fishy. The new law pushed up the statewide immunization numbers to a safe level overall. But dozens of schools have reported suspiciously high numbers of medical exemptions that, if left unchecked, could endanger their communities.

Orange County Register: Governments shouldn’t be in the business of picking winners and losers in the economy, yet politicians can’t seem to help themselves from manipulating the markets in order to do just that. On Oct. 31, California’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office presented its review of one such effort, the California Competes tax credit program. Started in 2013, the program has doled out hundreds of millions of dollars in tax credits to companies including General Motors and Snapchat.

San Diego Union-Tribune: After months combating a deadly hepatitis A outbreak mostly centered downtown, city officials are increasingly focused on another aspect of homelessness: the growing number of people, largely out of sight, camping along the San Diego River. The San Diego River Park Foundation counted 116 encampments along the river in October, nearly twice last year’s 61 and the most since its tracking began in 2009.

San Francisco Chronicle: How Jose Ines Garcia Zarate came upon the handgun with which he killed Kate Steinle on San Francisco’s Embarcadero is among the mysteries of the infamous 2015 shooting. How the weapon ended up at large is not: The unsecured .40-caliber Sig Sauer was stolen from a federal ranger’s car while it was parked in the neighborhood a few days earlier. Underscoring the disturbing frequency of such thefts, two firearms were stolen from a San Mateo County sheriff’s sergeant’s car Friday in the Tenderloin, not far from the scene of Garcia Zarate’s continuing trial.

San Jose Mercury News: The news broke Tuesday that Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving project, has begun testing autonomous vehicles without backup drivers. Memo to California: With an update of state regulations of autonomous vehicles in the works, the pressure is on to get them right. The state that spawned this enormously promising, Next-Big-Thing technology needs to be a model for others, and ideally federal regulation. It has to both continue to encourage the development of these vehicles and satisfy legitimate safety concerns. Transparency of safety records will be key to doing that.

Dallas Morning News: Once the initial shock and horror of the church shooting massacre in Sutherland Springs subsided, it was natural to ask the question, “How did this happen?” It didn’t take long for details to emerge about the shooter, Devin Patrick Kelley, that made it clear he was a disturbed and violent individual who should never have had access to a firearm.

Syndicates’ take

Frank Bruni: Republicans up for re-election in 2018 saw the result, shuddered and will spend the next weeks and months trying to figure out just how much trouble their party is in and precisely how to repair it. Democrats are exceedingly familiar with that feeling.

E.J. Dionne Jr.: It’s now clear, from Virginia and New Jersey to Washington state, Georgia, New York, Connecticut and Maine, that the energy President Trump has unleashed among those who loathe him has the potential to realign the country.

Thomas L. Friedman: Saudi Arabia’s current king is 81 years old. He replaced a king who died at 90, who replaced a king who died at 84. When the world has been experiencing so much high-speed change in technology, education and globalization, these successive Saudi monarchs thought that reforming their country at 10 mph was fast enough.

Dana Milbank: President Trump embraced Republican Ed Gillespie, endorsing him, tweeting about the “terrible” Virginia economy, its “high crime” and its gangs, and urging support for Gillespie. Gillespie, in the general election, attempted to remake himself as a Trump clone.

Paul Waldman: Voters in Maine approved a ballot initiative Tuesday to accept the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid by a margin of 59 percent to 41 percent. The expansion has been resisted by Republican Gov. Paul LePage. The public wants Medicaid, but Republicans hate it and will do everything they can to undermine it.

Mailbag

“Republicans in Washington are trying to put more money in our pockets by cutting federal taxes. California Democrats, who need your money for the greater good, will see any federal tax decrease as another income source to which they are entitled.” Richard Wilder, Rocklin

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