Gavin Newsom earned his recall with failed leadership

With the California Secretary of State’s confirmation that voters have qualified a recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom, the Golden State is one step closer to replacing the worst governor in state history and turning California toward a better future.

Despite blaming others, Newsom needs only to look in a mirror to discover who caused this mess. The California Constitution requires 1.5 million verified signatures to qualify a recall election, but recall proponents turned in 2.1 million from people of all political stripes, backgrounds and ideologies, unified by a recognition that the state is failing its people, and Gavin Newsom is only making things worse. They believe California is on the wrong track under this incompetent, hypocritical and desperate governor, and it’s time for him to go.

Newsom’s numerous failures have put California at the top of all of the wrong lists. Two and a half years into his term, California leads the nation in poverty, homelessness, highest income tax, highest gas tax, and the most people fleeing the state for more affordable and welcoming destinations. While these problems were all concerning before the pandemic, things have only gotten worse, and Newsom’s lack of leadership has been the last straw. People are mad and willing to take extraordinary action to try and save a state that they love.

California has one of the highest unemployment rates in America, thanks to Newsom’s far-reaching and perpetual shutdowns. More than 19,000 businesses have closed their doors permanently. Too many people find themselves seeking unemployment assistance or standing in line at food pantries for the first time in their lives. And Gavin Newsom must own this mess.

Voters expect that a governor can manage the basic functions of government, but Newsom can’t even do that. His unemployment department, the Employment Development Department (EDD), should have been getting Californians aid quickly and efficiently but instead has been riddled with fraud and mismanagement, paying up to $31 billion in fraudulent unemployment claims.

Death Row inmates got paid while out-of-work Californians couldn’t even get their calls answered. Today, more than a million claims continue to gather dust in a backlog; each representing a person who is struggling to make ends meet. Does Newsom even care? He couldn’t even mention the department’s failures during his campaign-style State of the State address, when he had a platform and audience to do so.

Instead of taking responsibility and fixing the EDD, Newsom attended an inside, unmasked, opulent dinner at the French Laundry with his campaign and lobbyist pals while hypocritically telling Californians to spend Thanksgiving without their families and be sure to wear a mask between bites. He only quit lying about the extent of his own rules being broken when pictures surfaced online.

Moreover, as school districts around the country slowly reopened and children went back to school, California dragged behind. Reopening schools was opposed by the state’s powerful teachers’ unions, and as top campaign supporters, Newsom didn’t have the backbone to demand they get back in the classroom to educate our children. California schools are still the slowest to reopen of any state in the nation. As a result, parents have had to leave their jobs to manage Zoom school, and millions of students have struggled to keep up behind a screen, while isolated at home.

The damage done to our children after a year of missing in-person instruction is unthinkable. And instead of fixing the problem by standing up to the unions, Gavin Newsom lied to score political points. He told CNN that he is also dealing with the challenges of “living through Zoom school,” when in reality, his children went back to in-person private school last fall. Again, that tells you who he is as a person.

As Newsom finally acknowledged the likelihood that his recall would go to a vote, instead of accepting the concerns voiced by 2.1 million Californians, the career politician attacked the people, suggesting the recall is fueled by racists and conspiracy theorists. Arrogant, incompetent, head-in-the-sand politician. That’s Gavin Newsom.

In reality, the 2.1 million Californians consist of Republicans, Democrats and independents. A plurality of the Latino community – a traditionally loyal voting bloc to California Democrats – supports the recall. Parents, workers, business owners, all have had enough of this governor’s failures.

California is on the wrong track, but later this year, we will fix that. Gavin Newsom earned his recall, and he should not be surprised when voters put an end to his incompetence by sending him to an early retirement.

Jessica Millan Patterson is chairwoman of the California Republican Party.

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Replace gas tax with more efficient, fairer mileage fee

California policymakers have spent years debating how to pay for road and highway repairs. President Biden’s current infrastructure plan brings that debate to the national stage.

Like its peers, California relies on a gas tax and registration fees to pay for infrastructure. But policymakers should cut registration fees and replace the gas tax with a better way to fund infrastructure: a mileage-based fee.

As the recent Pacific Research Institute study “Nickel and Dimed” shows, California drivers pay the nation’s highest gas tax. Registration fees are above those in Texas, Oregon, and many other states. But even though they spend hundreds of dollars a year in government-imposed taxes and fees, Californians have little to show for it. The American Society of Civil Engineers recently gave California roads a “D,” and the Reason Foundation’s Annual Highway Report ranked the state’s infrastructure an inexcusable forty-third out of fifty.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Gas tax and registration fee revenue doesn’t entirely go toward fixing roads and bridges. Some of it supports public transit; some subsidizes the California Highway Patrol; some goes to the Department of Motor Vehicles; and some trickles down to local governments, who use it to pay for social programs.

The gas tax and registration fees are also inefficient, unfair methods to generate infrastructure funding. Internal combustion engines are more economical than ever before, propelling vehicles farther while consuming less fuel. Traveling longer distances between fill-ups has environmental benefits, but it also means drivers pay less in gas taxes, even though they’re still adding just as much wear and tear to California’s infrastructure. Of course, electric vehicle owners pay no gas taxes at all, even though they use the same roads and bridges. California recently imposed a special fee on those vehicles, but the amount depends on its value, not how far the owner drives it.

With talk of rising infrastructure repair costs, it’s time for California policymakers to get things right. The state should cut its vehicle registration fee to the amount necessary to maintain ownership records, no more and no less. Most importantly, California should repeal its gas tax and replace it with a mileage-based fee. That way, people who drive more pay more, and those who drive less pay less. This is not a novel concept; the state tested it back in 2016.

But before rolling out a statewide, mileage-based fee, policymakers should make two critical enhancements. First, heavier vehicles should pay a higher fee. After all, a 5,000-pound SUV inflicts exponentially more wear and tear than a 3,000-pound sedan. Second, revenue from each driver’s fees should go back to fixing the infrastructure those drivers actually use. If 90 percent of a driver’s mileage is on the I-5, then 90 percent of their mileage fees should pay for maintaining the I-5. The easiest way to ensure that happens is with geotargeting – using GPS data to track which streets a vehicle uses and then earmarking fees for those streets only.

Of course, that raises understandable privacy concerns. But it’s worth noting that the necessary GPS data is no more invasive than the information many Californians willingly disclose to Facebook, Apple, and Google and that navigation apps already collect. Still, there’s an easy workaround: vehicle owners can opt-out of tracking and instead have their mileage fees allocated to fixing infrastructure within their zip code, and officials can allot a portion of that revenue to nearby highwaysl

California’s roads, highways, and bridges need costly repairs. Switching to a mileage-based fee could go a long way toward providing sufficient and stable funding to critical road improvements in communities across the state and the rest of the country.

Michael Thom is an associate professor at the University Southern California, an adjunct fellow in public finance at the Pacific Research Institute, and author of the PRI study, “Nickel and Dimed.”  Download the study at www.pacificresearch.org. 

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Credit unions are a better solution for unbanked than AB 1177

Now, more than ever, solutions are needed to help decrease the number of unbanked and under-banked individuals in the state of California and across the country. Assembly Bill 1177, however, is definitively not the answer. The proposed legislation by the BankCal NOW coalition would put in place a risky, high-cost government banking system that is unnecessary for Californians. Plus, the program would be a massive undertaking for the state.

Why would we prop up the proposed banking structure when our state already has tools in place that can support these individuals?

Credit unions’ explicit and sole purpose is to serve our members as not-for-profit, member-owned cooperatives. We are truly the financial institution of the people, and serve communities by providing affordable financial products, services and education. This is proven by the reliable system of nearly 300 total credit unions in California, of which more than 100 are low-income designated and reach every corner of the state.

Orange County’s Credit Union is one of these 100 low-income designated credit unions – and has been designated a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) as well. As a CDFI, we have a commitment to providing fair, affordable, and accessible services that address challenges faced by low-income families and communities. In total, 61% of Orange County’s Credit Union’s membership qualifies as being at least low-income. More than half, 55%, are considered very low income, while 21% are extremely low-income, based upon sample testing of the credit union’s loans performed for our CDFI certification application. As part of our commitment, we’ve developed specific products to help our communities, such as low-rate emergency loans, first-time auto loans and zero-down home loans.

By working in partnership with credit unions to educate the unbanked population on the benefits of community lenders, the State of California could spend a fraction of the high cost of instituting AB 1177 and achieve even greater results in reaching these individuals. Credit unions also bring the added benefits of having a large presence and being local representatives in the communities they serve, which makes a greater and more lasting impact than a hierarchical government system.

Additionally, many of the major banks and credit unions in the state participate in the BankOn program, a nonprofit that ensures everyone has access to a safe and affordable savings or checking account. This program is a tangible example of how seriously California’s existing financial institutions take accessibility, and the ways they’re already bringing unbanked or under-banked individuals into the financial mainstream.

Those assisted by this program receive low entry costs, little to no fees, and unrestricted customer service access – all selling points of this new, proposed financial structure, but already in existence through the BankOn program statewide.

The legislature should help lift up and promote the BankOn program, which again offers a less expensive and safer alternative to the proposed banking structure presented in AB 1177.

AB 1177 has a commendable goal – but the proposed bill is not the right solution and is not in the best interest of those it aims to help, or our state as a whole. Instead, we need to invest in the reliable and substantial solutions that already exist through the state’s credit unions.

Shruti Miyashiro is CEO of Orange County’s Credit Union.

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The cruelty of detention for young migrants

In response to an influx of young migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) is opening large-scale facilities in convention centers and stadiums in Dallas, San Diego, San Antonio, and most recently, Long Beach.

Despite ongoing media attention, the public knows frustratingly little about the profound health and social consequences of this detention.

“A nightmare I can’t escape.”

I have interviewed nearly 200 children within ORR facilities for my research. Young people experience these facilities as “lost time,” “traumatic” and “a nightmare I can’t escape.” They are  places where “I am treated like a criminal … a threat” and where “I have no rights.”

Children describe constant surveillance, limited communication with family, lack of fresh air and green space, and, most disturbingly, overmedication.

From 12-bed group homes to 500-bed institutions, unaccompanied children struggle to cope with the uncertainty of family reunification, ongoing legal proceedings, and the possibility of deportation.

Given limited federal oversight and high staff turnover, abuse within ORR facilities is also well-documented. As 15-year-old Lisette from Guatemala explained to me, “This is not care. It’s detention.”

Children aren’t the only ones reaching these conclusions.

Decades of research underscores that care in large-scale institutions can cause severe harm especially to young children. The American Academy of Pediatrics identifies that detention results in high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation. These symptoms do not disappear upon release. Even brief detention, experts concur, can cause psychological trauma and induce long-term mental health risks.

The federal government has codified that children in domestic children should be placed in the least restrictive setting appropriate to their needs, prioritizing family and small group care. Yet, federal facilities for immigrant children continue to grow in size.

It’s no wonder that these facilities are bypassing state child welfare licensing or abiding by the Flores Settlement Agreement, a longstanding pact that requires federal facilities to meet basic standards for the treatment of immigrant children.

Reunification amid pervasive distrust.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia has promised that the federal government will work quickly and diligently to reunify children with family members or sponsors. Here, too, we might learn from other experts: family reunification specialists who describe an often-lengthy sponsorship process. Phone numbers tucked in socks or sewn into clothing get lost en route. Children may be separated from family during the journey or upon apprehension by Border Patrol, never knowing their final destination. If identified, sponsors (including undocumented parents) must come forward with a series of documents, disclose where and with whom they live, and provide fingerprints to the FBI.

With adequate infrastructure and trained staff — resources not in place in these impromptu facilities — fast-tracked reunification with a bare minimum of safeguards takes 47 days on average. Family reunification specialists describe contending with considerable distrust of potential sponsors not only because the Trump administration enlisted the reunification process as “bait” to detain undocumented parents, but also because President Biden alongside Obama deported a record 5.3 million immigrants. As a result, families are reluctant to come forward. Meanwhile, children remain detained.

The San Diego Convention Center evidences these challenges—only one of the 1367 detained children has been reunified in the two and a half weeks since opening.

Instead, Mayor Garcia and the Long Beach City Council must ask critical questions, defer to child welfare experts, and importantly, listen to children.

So too, city leadership should question how the Biden Administration’s policies are producing this latest influx by preserving the use of Title 42 — a Trump-era policy that instructs Border Patrol to refuse entry to all new asylum-seeking adults. As families are turned away under Title 42, many parents make the difficult choice of sending their children to cross into the U.S. alone, rather than remain in Mexico under dangerous conditions.

In effect, the Biden administration is rendering children unaccompanied, while reopening the very “baby jails” that drew public ire under Trump.

Whether under Republican or Democratic leadership, migrant children continue to experience more of the same — family separation and detention. Although it is politically uncomfortable, Mayor Garcia and the Long Beach City Council must act in the best interests of children.

Lauren Heidbrink is an associate professor of human development at California State University, Long Beach and author of “Migranthood: Youth in a New Era of Deportation.”

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A carbon border tax will harm the poor world the most

To tackle climate change, rich nations are promising to end fossil fuel use in 29 years. As this becomes excruciatingly costly, the G7 is now thinking about making the world’s poor pay for it with carbon taxes. That will go badly.

The rich world has seen an incredible development on the back of enormous increases in mostly fossil fuel energy. A couple of hundred years ago, most available power came from backbreaking human work. Even by the end of the 1800s, human labor made up 94% of all industrial work in the United States. Today, it constitutes just 8%.

If we think of the energy we use in terms of “servants,” each with the same work power as a human being, every person in the rich world today has access to 150 servants who clean, cook, drive, heat and do almost everything else for them.

Despite green protestations, rich people still get 79% of their energy from fossil fuels. Ending that will be hard, socially destabilizing and surprisingly ineffective.

To see how difficult, take the UN’s recent pronouncement that our Paris promises really mean reducing world emissions 7.6% every year this decade. The UN cheerfully notes this was almost achieved in 2020 with the global COVID shutdowns.

But this year, we need twice the reduction, equal to two shutdowns. And three in 2022, ending with the equivalent of eleven global shutdowns every year from 2030. Economic models show this will cost tens of trillions of dollars annually.

It will also destabilize rich countries. They have seen their per-person growth rates decline — in Europe, it is now edging toward zero. As climate policies reduce growth further, this will threaten long-term social coherence as people realize their children won’t be better off and pensions wither.

Moreover, the cuts will matter little for the climate. Even if all OECD nations cut their entire CO₂ emissions today, the standard climate UN model shows it will reduce warming by 2100 just 0.8°F.

The reason? Six billion not-rich people also want access to plentiful and cheap energy, lifting them out of hunger, sickness and poverty. They are more concerned about economic growth that will create welfare and resilience against disease and even climate change.

Unfortunately, climate policies harm the developing world. Because they increase energy costs, they slow economic growth. Implementing the current Paris Agreement will mean lower growth and that fewer people will get out of poverty. If we aim for 2°C, a recent peer-reviewed study shows it will mean at least 80 million fewer people will escape poverty by 2030.

Now, rich countries want the world’s poor to pay the costs through carbon taxes. The UK is pushing such tariffs as a key priority of its G-7 presidency, and the proposal is falling on sympathetic ears in the United States, Europe and Canada.

As the United States and Europe drive up energy costs, more businesses will escape to less-burdened areas like China, India and Africa. Slapping a border tariff on imports according to their underlying emissions reduces that move.

But such tariffs also make it harder for the developing world to compete, because most rich countries use carbon more sparingly. Globally, these tariffs are inefficient and make climate policies even costlier. But crucially, they act as back-door protectionism for rich countries.

For the rich world to cut 20% of its emissions, a standard model shows it will cost them $310 billion a year. Using carbon tariffs, the rich world can instead end up $400 billion better off, making $90 billion by forcing businesses to move back to the rich world. Instead, they impose more than half a trillion in extra costs onto the world’s poor. As one highly quoted study concludes, “the main effect of carbon tariffs is to shift the economic burden of developed-world climate policies to the developing world.”

The EU and others believe that higher tariff threats will force the developing world to adopt their own costly climate policies. This could be a disastrous misjudgment.

If the US were to implement a national $40 tax per ton of carbon, one recent study shows this would cost $73 billion yearly in lost growth. If the US also decided to force Chinese exports to pay tariffs equivalent to this carbon tax, it would confer a loss on China of $24 billion. But this wouldn’t help push China to implement its own $40 carbon tax domestically, because that would cost the Chinese an eye-watering $210 billion a year.

Instead, it is likely that forcing developing countries to choose between losing billions and losing even more billions will lead to profound resentment with a rich world that claims to implement climate policies to help, but really shifts the costs onto the world’s poor. It could lead to a tariff war and the developing world shaping their separate free trading regime.

The effective way to address the real problem of climate change is to dramatically ramp up investment into green energy research and development. If the price of green energy could be innovated below fossil fuels over the next decade, everyone would happily switch.

The G7 need to come to their senses and fund green innovation. Depriving the world’s poor of the twin drivers of development, abundant energy and free trade is unacceptable.

Bjorn Lomborg is president of the Copenhagen Consensus and Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His latest book is “False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet.”

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Protecting natural resources without disrupting housing construction

There is certainly room for robust discussion around how best to address a housing crisis that threatens to destroy our economy and quality of life, as it widens the equity gap and puts entire populations deeper into poverty. If we’ve learned anything these past few years it’s that there are no easy solutions.

Even so, I must respectfully take issue with Jeff Montejano’s recent op-ed and his mischaracterization of a new conservation mapping initiative that will provide critical information to effectively plan future transportation and development projects – including much-needed new housing.

The initiative, called SoCal Greenprint, will provide the scientific data needed to make informed decisions when it comes to protecting Southern California’s diverse natural and agricultural resources. This strategic mapping website is being produced by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) and will help both public and private sector entities identify priority locations for growth and development that can reduce or eliminate conflicts with sensitive natural areas. Developed in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, Greenprint will assist land owners, developers and local governments to avoid potential litigation by identifying and assessing environmental issues early in the planning process.

Greenprint is not, as some have suggested, a deterrent to new housing, but a tool to ensure that our natural landscapes remain an invaluable asset to the millions of people who call this region home. In addition to desert, mountain and coastal habitats, some of the highest concentrations of native plant and animal species on the planet are found within our region– resources that ensure a robust economy, provide clean drinking water, protect our air and provide countless recreation opportunities.

On a grander scale, if we truly care about where and how we live, understanding and highlighting the benefits of natural lands and waters, access to parks and trails, habitat protection and increased resilience to climate change must be part of our local and regional planning processes.

Greenprint is being designed to do just that, using the best-available scientific data and delivering that information in an easily accessible and publicly available way. Those objectives were a key directive of Connect SoCal, SCAG’s 2020-2045 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy which was approved overwhelmingly this past year by the organization’s Regional Council.

Add it up, the SoCal Greenprint doesn’t increase our exposure to expensive and time-consuming litigation around development and transportation decisions; in fact, it offers the opportunity to mitigate the risk considerably.

As for The Nature Conservancy, this highly respected nonprofit organization was chosen to work with SCAG in the development of Greenprint due to its vast experience in developing similar tools for large-scale regions such as ours. The Nature Conservancy

is uniquely qualified to develop and deliver a product that meets the needs of our six-county region. It also has considerable experience conducting public outreach and working with public and private sector stakeholder groups, like private landowners, representatives from the building industry, state conservation entities, as well as local jurisdictions, county governments and others.

Indeed, thorough public outreach and stakeholder engagement with the private and public sector is key to a constructive regionwide Greenprint, as outreach activities comprise more than 25% of project funding and have included members of the building and development community extensively.

Again, we appreciate a healthy debate, and we don’t pretend to claim that the SoCal Greenprint will solve our housing shortage. But we also strongly disagree with the premise that this data-driven initiative will undermine efforts to build more housing units. Better understanding our conservation and environmental landscape will only help lead to better solutions.

We encourage the building and development community to join with us in this endeavor.

Rex Richardson is president of the Southern California Association of Governments and is vice mayor of the city of Long Beach.

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Hope returns to Anaheim as California reopens

Anaheim is back.

Disneyland, a place of joy and inspiration for all Californians, is about to reopen after more than a year.

Fans are back in the stands cheering on Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.

The Anaheim Ducks are closing out their season with fans behind the glass at Honda Center.

And now we have a path forward for reopening the Anaheim Convention Center, host to some of California’s greatest events.

As mayor of one of the hardest hit cities in the coronavirus economic downturn, I’m happy to have hope again.

But the Anaheim comeback is no accident.

We have worked since Day One of the pandemic, alongside Orange County and California, to fight COVID-19 and to restore our economy.

Throughout this crisis, I have strongly advocated for Anaheim, which sometimes meant respectfully challenging the decisions of our state partners.

But I believe we always had the same end goal in mind: Protect our neighborhoods, especially those most impacted, get people safely back to work and beat COVID-19.

We all agree now we’re in a much different place. We’ve made great progress together.

Advancing our city and regional recovery effort is Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to move beyond the Blueprint for a Safer Economy and end the color-coded tier system for closures and openings.

This puts us on track to fully reopen our economy on June 15 with some common sense public health measures.

It allows for the continued, safe reopening of businesses and gives visitors confidence to return to Anaheim, as cases continue to go down and vaccines increase.

Anaheim has played a significant role in the effort to vaccinate all Californians, including in hard hit neighborhoods.

At the Anaheim Convention Center and Disneyland Resort, we are vaccinating thousands each day.

So far, 400,000 vaccines and counting have been given in our city.

In our priority ZIP code, 92805, we work with the county of Orange and trusted partners to bring shots to those who may need a little extra help getting vaccinated.

All with the goal of saving lives and moving past this pandemic.

The pandemic’s toll on Anaheim has been tragic.

Sadly, 850 Anaheim families have lost someone to COVID-19, a sobering reminder of the true cost of this virus.

While necessary, the economic impacts of coronavirus restrictions have been devastating to Anaheim’s working families and small businesses.

In 2020, Anaheim peaked at 30,000 residents out of work, surpassing what we saw during the Great Recession.

Thousands of businesses have closed, some for good.

In response, our city has provided more than $65 million in rent assistance, small-business grants and aid to families, seniors and children, in part with funding from our state partners.

But the best assistance we can provide is economic recovery. We join California in forging a path forward to put this crisis behind us for good.

Brighter days are ahead for Anaheim and all of California.

Harry Sidhu is mayor of Anaheim.

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Teachers union prefers parents to remain silent: Maryam Qudrat

I would have never imagined that as a result of speaking at the Los Angeles Unified School District school board meetings that so many voices would go unheard, and I would be racially categorized and my job threatened.

I have been on the radar of United Teachers Los Angeles, the union representing teachers in LAUSD, and now a target of intimidation.

In my years as a contractor in Afghanistan where I was providing educational training for mostly women, I regularly experienced fear and scare tactics. But what I’ve been enduring the last month with UTLA causes memories of the Taliban to resurface.

Late last year, I joined the growing choir of diverse parents at the Los Angeles Unified meetings who shared their heartfelt concerns with the lack of instruction, learning, and students with special needs not having their Individualized Education Program (IEP) being met. Additionally, students need to be social, play sports, and be engaged with their peers. Public schools usually facilitate those things. Week after week, parents’ voices were not unheard, but ignored.

What parents intuitively know, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) confirms: mental health-related emergency room visits increased 31 percent for children between the ages of 12 and 17 from March to October compared to the same period in 2019. In evaluating data, former CDC head Robert Redfield, noted that the health risks to children from COVID-19 were much lower than the risks of keeping children out of school.

Yet, LAUSD continues to ignore the experience of parents, CDC’s expertise and a steady flow of novel scientific studies.

So, what does Cecily Myart-Cruz, president of the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) mean when she says they are adhering to science. I want to know what science?

I was contacted by a UTLA researcher who claimed he was doing a research project on parents and others who have spoken out on LAUSD issues with a specific goal: to identify them by race and class. In his email to me, the researcher explained that my last name, Qudrat, is “not in our index” and if ‘“I could tell him how I racially self-identify.”’ Instead of using their resources to help students, UTLA has assigned their staff to racially profile parents who have raised questions about instructional minutes and school openings.

With this type of discriminatory UTLA “research,” Cecily Myart-Cruz is able to make statements such that the union has “fielded voicemails, emails, stalked on social media by wealthy white and Middle Eastern parents in regards to opening schools.” Is this the “science” she’s referring to?

They are utilizing their resources to fund these “studies” to divide parents along racial lines. The intended effect is to silence any dissent.

Next it was onto contacting my employer, questioning my ability to speak out, and asking why my credentials as a college professor were mentioned by an interviewer. Thankfully, campus leadership where I teach understand it is a very common place for professors to share their views.

By bringing race into the discussion about school openings, the UTLA is deflecting from the real challenges at hand – the urgent need to educate LAUSD students, ensuring special needs students are getting vital in-person services, and making up for lost time so our most vulnerable students don’t fall behind because of this year’s educational vacuum.

This kind of political hardball might be what UTLA is used to when dealing with political leaders, but targeted campaigns against parents should raise red flags for anyone paying attention.

Maryam Qudrat is the author of “Torn Between Two Cultures: An Afghan-American Woman Speaks Out” and a lecturer.

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Magnolia Tank Farm project is the right reuse for Huntington Beach

Like communities across the nation, Huntington Beach has suffered through the pandemic, impacting not only residents’ health, but wreaking havoc on the local economy and municipal finances. At this challenging time, it is important leaders embrace opportunities to repair and renew economic resilience and community health.

Huntington Beach City Council has such an opportunity on January 19 when it considers a proposal for re-use of the Magnolia Tank Farm. Located at the intersection of Magnolia Street and Banning Avenue, it derives its name from three above-ground oil storage tanks built in the early 1970s and demolished several years ago. What remains is essentially an eyesore on the beautiful Huntington Beach coastline.

The Magnolia Tank Farm project is for 250 for-sale homes, a 215-room boutique eco-friendly lodge and 19,000 square feet of retail and dining space that will create jobs and generate property, sales and hotel bed tax revenues to fund city services. The hotel will feature meeting facilities available for use by the community.

Huntington Beach is a unique and wonderful community, and land reuse proposals should honor the existing community, balance competing interests, protect the environment and respectfully move the city forward. Magnolia Tank Farm project meets these standards.

Beyond the obvious economic benefits, a development agreement contractually obligates the developer to deliver a range of community benefits, including three acres of new public parks, trails and viewpoints.

Land from the site will be set aside as a new public park, Marsh Park, offering public views of the Magnolia Marsh and the ocean, recreation areas and an amphitheater. An elevated public coastal trail providing ocean views will be built along the western edge of the site, next to the marsh. Furthermore, the existing privately owned greenbelt known as “Squirrel Park” will become Magnolia Park; it will be owned by the city, open to the public,  but maintained – at no public expense – by the new community’s homeowner’s association.

Other community benefits include millions of dollars to fund improvements to the Banning Branch Library and Edison Park, as well as traffic improvements and beautification for Banning Avenue and Magnolia Street. While each of these improvements offers immediate benefits to residents, they also make Huntington Beach a more attractive location for those looking to start a business or relocate their economic ventures to a new locale. Especially now as Orange County looks to recovery after the devasting economic impacts of COVID-19, leaders should take every opportunity to position their communities for success.

Equally important is the ongoing contribution Magnolia Tank Farm will make to the fiscal health of the city and the greater Orange County economy. The four-star eco-friendly lodge and retail/dining venues mean more jobs and business opportunities, increased property, sales and bed tax revenues. The project itself will contribute millions of dollars in developer fees to city and school coffers.

This is an opportunity to convert nonproductive land into a valuable community asset.  It also provides badly needed housing to address a severe backlog in supply and meet local requirements under state law.  The lack of options for Huntington Beach residents and workers exacerbates traffic and air quality problems as more are forced to commute; it hampers Orange County’s competitive business advantage as young professionals increasingly move elsewhere in order to buy homes, crippling economic growth. With this project, Huntington Beach remains a leader in economic recovery, while also complementing and preserving its local community character.

Expert analysis and official findings researching the details and fiscal implications were evaluated by the Huntington Beach Planning Commission – an important step before City Council review – and the commissioners voted overwhelmingly for project approval.

Magnolia Tank Farm’s balance and panoply of benefits have garnered broad-based support from business leaders, public safety, civic organizations, community leaders, residents and housing advocates, including Huntington Beach Police Officers Association, Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce, Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy, Orange County Business Council and many others.

It is not often when the county’s leading business organization and a police union align on issues.  But here we heartily concur and ask Huntington Beach City Council to join with us in support of an effective reuse of a blighted site – and to seize this opportunity to create jobs, economic vitality, new businesses, for-sale housing, expanded environmental access and millions in tax revenues for vital public services.

We urge a “yes” vote for this project.

Lucy Dunn is President and CEO of the Orange County Business Council. Yahsa Nikitin is President of the Huntington Beach Police Officers Association

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Newsom’s budget will make California’s problems worse

With the political maelstroms in Washington D.C., it’s easy to overlook California’s own pressing problems. Recently, Gov. Gavin Newsom submitted his 2021-22 State Budget proposal, which would make California’s troubles go from bad to worse. The $227.2 billion fiscal blueprint increases government unions’ power and wealth, pouring gasoline on California’s myriad public policy fires.

More government spending won’t fix the economic problems facing the state. California has the country’s seventh-highest unemployment rate, with 1.5 million people looking for work. Poverty, economic opportunity, and income inequality are all among the worst in the nation. The state’s strict Covid-19 restrictions have caused immense small business pain for little-to-no apparent gain. Hospitalizations per capita are near the highest in the country, and many ICUs are overrun.

California’s tax and regulatory burden are downright European, making it very difficult for small businesses to stay profitable even at the best of times. Californians earning a mere $59,000 per year face a 9.3 percent tax rate. Yet, Golden State residents get almost nothing in return for their massive tax burdens. Schools are failing (when they’re open), homelessness is out of control, infrastructure resembles the Third World, and first responders are slow to arrive, if they come at all. That’ll get worse to the extent California communities succeed in defunding police.

Electricity rates are among the highest in the nation, and $4 a gallon gas raises everyone’s cost of living. Meanwhile, the green mandates that drive up energy prices haven’t helped the environment, as annual forest fires due to a lack of forest management destroy air quality and decimate entire cities. Recurrent blackouts mean Californians don’t even get reliable energy in return for their high bills.

As a result of this climate, businesses and people are fleeing the state. In recent months, top executives, including Elon Musk, Larry Ellison, and Keith Rabois, have fled, taking tens of billions of economic activity and tax dollars with them. Census figures show that this outmigration isn’t limited to the top 1 percent, with more people moving out than moving in over the last few years.

No wonder there’s a recall effort against Gov. Newsom that’s quickly gaining steam. Even the mainstream media has caught on to the political ramifications of the consequences. “Newsom scrambles to save California — and his career,” reads a recent Politico headline.

Now Gov. Newsom is about to make things worse with a budget that further diverts state resources into government unions’ pockets. California’s government unions already collect nearly one billion dollars annually in dues payments that are partly used to elect politicians who — like Newsom — will do their bidding.

His budget proposal calls for roughly $90 billion in education funding, the highest level in state history. Parents are currently paying for tutoring and supplies that would have otherwise been provided in classrooms. Given that it will be months before teachers return, parents bearing the costs of educating their kids at home might wonder if this is a misdirection of resources.

The budget directs a total of $7 billion in pandemic-related support to schools and students. These funds are in addition to the billions of dollars that California schools have already received in federal aid. Yet classrooms don’t need to resemble hospitals. They can already return with the same added cost-effective precautions seen in the rest of the economy. Newsom’s additional funds are little more than a payoff to teachers unions cajoling them to reopen classrooms.

The budget directs roughly one billion dollars to expand transitional kindergarten, which offers teachers unions an opportunity to further grow their ranks by organizing early childhood educators. The budget press release notes, “The Administration has already begun the collective bargaining process with representatives of child care providers to negotiate a memorandum of understanding that governs the payments made to these providers.”

Californians have more than enough to be concerned about here at home without worrying about what’s going on in Washington, D.C. Gov. Newsom’s budget will only make the problems worse by further empowering government unions responsible for them in the first place.

Will Swaim is the president of the California Policy Center.

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