Some articles succeed in presenting such a vivid picture of events readers feel they are witnessing the happenings themselves. Mimi Soros (no relation) and Catherine Hart wrote one such article, published in the California Political News & Views.
They were trying to attend a College Republicans event featuring Ann Coulter, and were blocked by Antifa and other left-leaning activists. This sad situation happened at the University of California Berkeley campus – once home of the Free Speech Movement – but it could have happened in any progressive-leaning town in the U.S.A.
We seem to be entering an age in which we will all need permission to speak. Does it stop at speech? How about needing permission to exercise our religious beliefs, to defend ourselves against intruders or attackers, to travel, what else?
An especially progressive district attorney was recently elected in San Francisco. Chesa Boudin received some national press, mostly focused on his radical-left parents and his pledge not to prosecute “quality of life” events like public urination and prostitution.
Although such information is important, also significant is for voters to be aware that Chesa Boudin is not an isolated example of committed progressive reformers being elected throughout the U.S. in the last five or so years. Moreover, a voter’s political persuasion – whether conservative or progressive – is not the issue. The issue is understanding the forces propelling progressive DAs into office and what these DAs represent.
The article has a strong and heartfelt introduction by Steve Frank, committed conservative and publisher of CPN&V. The Just Vote No Blog hopes readers will take a few minutes to read the article as well as the introduction.
Sometimes it is difficult to tell whether folks in San Francisco, especially its public officials, are serious in what they say or spoofing.
A graduate student recently produced an “equity report,” which was presented to the City’s Local Agency Formation Commission. The report’s primary concern was how PG&E, the City’s embattled utility company was handling the billing of San Francisco’s community-owned CleanPower. The report contained data on where and how often PG&E shut off power for non-payment.
To everyone’s astonishment, distress, and concern, the data showed that more power shut offs for non-payment occurred in poor neighborhoods where people of color live than in more affluent neighborhoods (where supposedly more white people live?).
According to one of the City’s principal newspapers, the San Francisco Examiner, Sandra Fewer, chair of the Local Agency Formation Commission, also one of the City’s Supervisors and recently responsible for spearheading the formation of an Office of Racial Equity said that she had not thought of power shut-offs as an equity issue (presumably now she does?).
When viewed as an equity issue, the fact that poor people sometimes do not have enough money to pay their bills prompted a predictable response: implement rebates or debt forgiveness and implement prohibition of shutoffs in household where there are children 12 years of age and younger.
In other words, CleanPower could spread customer costs across more well-off sections of the city so that poorer sections can have power even when residents do not pay for it.
On second thought, perhaps it is evident that San Francisco residents and officials are not spoofing. As newly-elected District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston, a self-described Democratic Socialist says,
We need to rethink what’s possible for San Francisco. We need a Green New Deal for San Francisco starting with clean public power instead of PG&E.
Pictured above: a busy transit stop in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood from a SFGate 2011 article on efforts to revitalize the area.
Four days ago, former California governor Jerry Brown testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee panel on the environment. Here is what he said,
California’s burning while the deniers make a joke out of the standards that protect us all. The blood is on your soul here and I hope you wake up.
His point was that climate change is the primary cause of California’s devastating wildfires, and the Trump administration is not interested in either the state’s plight or in California’s leadership in fighting climate change.
The governor’s specific reason for visiting Washington DC was to testify against the Administration’s plan to suspend the federal waiver that allows California to impose vehicle emission standards more stringent than those mandated by the federal government. The state views strict emission standards as essential in lowering CO2, the focus of California’s climate fight.
Let’s Review California’s Wildfire Scenario
Indeed, climate changes, and with change comes the need for adaptation. But the governor’s words when stacked up against some obvious facts sound more like prescribed rhetoric than a call for solutions. Here are some variables that are absent from the governor’s rhetoric.
* California wildfires have always been a fact of nature. Forest fires naturally take care of overgrowth and help seeds explode and propagate. However, while in the old days early inhabitants suffered smoky air and heat from the conflagrations today’s inhabitants are faced with tragic destruction of life and property.
* Recent poorly-managed population growth force people seeking room to build to locate in fire zones next to tinder-dry forests.
* An exploding number of homeless individuals and their campfires have spread out into fire-prone zones, just like their housed neighbors.
* Overzealous environmentalists have succeeded in stopping the culling of trees and trimming of underbrush.
* Nature-loving homeowners understandably enjoy forests, rendered deadly by droughts, right by their backyards.
* California’s perennial distaste for investor-owned utility companies such a PG&E and Southern California Edison preclude peaceful and efficient transition to renewable sources of energy.
Blood in Whose Soul?
Jerry Brown made headlines with his “blood is on your soul” accusation. But his climate change blame game sounds unconvincing when other factors affecting the destruction caused by California’s wildfires are ignored.
The former governor’s words brings to mind an image of another unraveling society of long time past, where someone fiddled as the city burned. Whose soul was tainted with blood then? And now?
More on the Subject
* For a more scathing opinion of California fires, the Just Vote No Blog recommends
San Francisco, once a lovely city, is now a poster child for urban decay. The Drug-Homeless Complex rules this once home to strong retail stores, industry, and port activity. What San Francisco has now is a cadre of tax-benefitted app makers, a gargantuan government bureaucracy, and Poop Patrols tasked with washing human feces from sidewalks. What happened?
The Just Vote No Blog recommends a beautiful opinion piece by Lee Edwards, Heritage Foundation Fellow, that appeared in the Washington Times on October 14,Is San Francisco the Future of America? In this piece, Dr. Edwards speaks of visiting The City after some time of absence. He vividly describes a society that no longer believes in right or wrong, accepts a premise that the purpose of government is to rectify every injustice, and that disdains the universal benefits of the limited government our Founders envisioned.
The vividness of Dr. Edwards’ opinion piece is enhanced by his alluding to the fact that in an uncontrolled spiral, things fall apart. Also, the whole of America might have plunged into the spiral.
What has happened? Why is America slouching like some rough beast — not toward Bethlehem, but Gomorrah? Beyond dispute, things feel as if they are failing apart, and the common rules of a civil society no longer seem to apply.
So true that once civil society starts disintegrating, salvaging individual liberties, personal privacy, private property, and opportunity for upward mobility of all people becomes increasingly challenging. At this point halting and reversing San Francisco’s march towards Gomorrah – as well as halting the national tendency to march along – will require that responsible people pay attention to another admonition in W.B. Yeats often quoted poem The Second Coming.
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.
The Founding Fathers envisioned a limited government hopefully free of special interests such as San Francisco’s Drug-Homeless Complex. Halting the slouching away from such a vision will require responsible people to acquire conviction and the same passionate intensity as those who espouse anarchy and decay.
Central Valley State Assembly Member Jim Patterson made news a few days ago by calling attention to funds being diverted from lane widening on Route 99. Patterson attributed the halting of road work to Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-19-19 signed September 20, 2019, which states in part:
The California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) is directed to invest its annual portfolio of $5 billion toward construction, operations and maintenance to help reverse the trend of increased fuel consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with the transportation sector. CalSTA, in consultation with the Department of Finance, is also directed to align transportation spending, programming and mitigation with the state’s climate goals to achieve the objectives of the state’s Climate Change Scoping Plan, where feasible. Specifically the Governor is ordering a focus for transportation investments near housing, and on managing congestion through innovative strategies that encourage alternatives to driving.
With uncharacteristic speed, the State Transportation Agency published on October 4 its 2020 Interregional Transportation Strategic Plan (ITSP), proposing to repurpose “uncommitted funds” from several current projects, including Highway 99 work, and retain “$61,331,000 in uncommitted 2020 ITIP programming capacity to be held in reserve for priority rail projects and other priorities aligned with Executive Order N-19-19.”
Since Assembly Member Jim Patterson’s clarion call, other entities have taken up his warning that California has just witnessed a major case of bait and switch and other cases will soon follow. For example,
ABC30.com reported Highway 99 expansion funding cuts elicit angry reactions. This news segment featured Assembly Member Jim Patterson saying,
This is classic bait and switch. We were promised streets, roads and highways and we are getting everything but.
In an Opinion piece in the San Bernardino Sun of October 13, The Gas Tax Bait and Switch, Jon Coupal, President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, said,
In September, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order that has redirected gas tax money to fund railway systems and other projects, rather than repairing and upgrading the state’s broken highways and roads. The governor and Caltrans claim that the diversion of funds is justified by the need to do something about climate change.
Like Assembly Member Jim Patterson, the Just Vote No Blog expects to see a lot more cases of Bait & Switch in the name of climate change.
Proposition 13, overwhelmingly approved by voters in 1978, turned out to be not a mere voters’ initiative, but a cultural symbol defended by some and despised by others.
By placing a property tax cap on certain properties, Proposition 13 significantly reduced sources of revenue for a state that considers taxes lifeblood itself.
Never mind that the state devised a myriad other sources of revenue, and today stands #11 out of 50 in level of taxation – the focus remains on the loss of property taxes resulting from Proposition 13. Never mind that a 1976 court decision removed fiscal responsibility from school districts – the narrative remains that Proposition 13 destroyed local control of schools.
Because Proposition 13 enjoys some fierce defenders, the opposition has settled for incremental jabs rather than outright repeal. A significant blow will be attempted in the November 2020 election. The proposal would leave the cap on residences but remove it from commercial and industrial buildings in what has been called split-roll property tax assessment.
The California teachers’ union and others who view Proposition 13 as abhorrent are building a campaign war chest to support the 2020 proposal. Their narrative remains as it was in 1978.
The Just Vote No Blog recommends an article on California Political News and Views that provides a different narrative – Proposition 13 News: Split-Roll Proposal, Again.
If voters are to vote wisely, they need to acquaint themselves with the opposing views inherent in all proposals.
Few if any in the in the U.S. conservative movement are unaware of Dinesh d’Souza, so he packs rooms wherever he speaks. On September 26, Mr. d’Souza was the keynote speaker at the San Francisco Lincoln-Reagan Dinner, a traditional annual fund raising event held by Republican Party operatives throughout the U.S.
Now, let this sink in: a large room full of clapping and cheering fans of a radical conservative, in San Francisco. The picture was sufficiently remarkable to prompt this Just Vote No editorial report of the event (by a non-Republican with long-time friends in both the Left and the Right).
The San Francisco Republican Party, as a rule a rather staid group, was energized enough to add the following to their announcement of the event:
Warning: No Safe Spaces Provided. A Limited Supply of Pacifiers Available for Democrat Attendees.
Mr. d’Souza was introduced at the event by a fellow fighter, and former Chair of the Republican Party of California, Harmeet Dhillon. John Dennis, current Chair of the San Francisco Republican Party and perennial Nancy Pelosi opposition candidate, opened the event. Note: John Dennis has fans not only in Republican circles but in the Libertarian community as well.
Fighting Fire With Fire
Appropriately, the subject of Dinesh d’Souza’s talk at this event was how conservatives can regain ground totally lost to liberals over the last 30 or so years. His prescription is simple: fight fire with fire. Grassroots liberals are masters of political guerrilla warfare. They are brilliant at re-framing any statement or event to fit the liberal agenda. Not so conservatives, according to Mr. d’Souza, who are too engaged in being proper and demure ladies and gentlemen.
The point of the talk was that we no longer live in a politically civil world. Today, one cannot possibly imagine a relationship such as that of Republican President Ronald Reagan and Democrat Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, bitter political opponents who cooperated in leading the nation through a period of significant prosperity. At this juncture one cannot hope to go back to civility by simply acting civilly. The only effective conservative response is political guerrilla warfare.
Mr. d’Souza walks his talk, and for that he was convicted in 2014 for campaign finance fraud and sentenced to eight months in a community detention center and five years of probation. He had pleaded guilty after his pretrial motion to dismiss the indictment for selective prosecution was denied. Well, President Donald Trump did feel there was selective prosecution, so he pardoned Dinesh d’Souza in 2018, thus returning a firebrand conservative to the political arena. Mr. d’Souza gave as examples of fighting fire with fire his finagling donations to a political candidate exceeding legal limits and Mr. Trump’s pardon of his conviction.
Rules for Radicals
* The first rule appears to be to understand what is going on. For example, if conservatives keep saying, “Look at Venezuela!!” and Bernie Sanders keeps saying, “No, look at Denmark,” conservatives are missing the point.
Dinesh d’Souza feels that Bernie Sanders knows full well that there is no comparison between the culture, traditions, and tax structure of the U.S. vs. the Scandinavian countries, but he is counting on his voter base not knowing. A Sanders supporter with $76,000 in equivalent annual wages would soon be an ex-Sanders supporter if he understood that in Denmark he would be in a 56% tax bracket. Indeed, it is easy to vote for socialist candidates when one is under the impression that the other guy is going to pay for socialism!
* The next rule is to organize. Look for people who are distressed about the same things that distress you. High taxes? Lower-wage liberals as well as conservatives might feel distressed about all the taxes taken out of their paychecks.
Find out and bring them into the discussion with higher-income property owners unhappy with property taxes.
* Third rule: hit back – twice as hard. The effort of hitting back will also be twice as difficult. Conservatives stood back politely while liberals took over the press, entertainment, academia and social media. Now if conservatives wish to fight back, they will have to do it without the assistance of those entities.
Universal Rules for Winning
Dinesh d’Souza’s talk at the San Francisco 2019 Lincoln-Reagan Dinner was aimed at conservatives. However, remedies he suggested are simply universal rules for winning any political fight fought by any faction in the political spectrum in today’s political arenas. Using those rules expertly also enters into the prescription. A badly botched battle is more damaging to the success of a war than no battle at all.
The Just Vote No Blog is non-partisan. This event happened to be a Republican dinner during which a pretty good speaker gave some credible pointers on what it takes in today’s political landscape to gain ground.
Readers who are dedicated liberals might prefer to read the Just Vote No Blog article Antonio Gramsci: The New Hegemonyon how to successfully bring about a socialist state.
Fear is a good tool with which to implement control. California did a great job successfully passing hundreds of mandates removing voter control of housing by utilizing concerns about climate change. The point here is not to engage in unwinnable arguments whether climate change is man-made or not, but to observe a transformation, some say not for the good, driven by constant talk of climate change.
California Political News and Views is an on-line publication popular among conservatives. “Conservative” includes ideas such as protection of private property and displeasure with government supported or controlled housing.
An article in the Political News and Views issue of September 16, observes the connection between California’s continuous talk of climate change and draconian housing legislation. Of special note is the morphing of climate change into climate justice, which led to massive taxation of the state’s residents to support subsidized housing.
Nobody likes to pay almost half of one’s wages for housing, but that is what is happening to so many California residents. Reasons for the astronomical housing costs vary according to whom one asks. However, regardless of reason, the situation is now promoted as a “crisis,” and duly exploited as such.
Of concern to the Just Vote No Blog is that the housing crisis is at the heart of today’s central planning, which renders residents and voters increasingly powerless in land use and housing decisions.
A Brief Background
In The Curious Case of Housing Legislation, the Just Vote No Blog noted the history behind today’s network of housing bills. The state’s evolving efforts to remove land use and housing decisions from voters is one of the evident aspects of such history. Here are some reminders:
The seminal Assembly Bill 32, The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, started the ball rolling by mandating the reduction of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
Climate crisis soon morphed into a land use crisis that required dense job/housing development along narrow corridors throughout the Bay Area, ostensibly to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions produced by workers commuting from homes in the suburbs.
Predictable pushback from neighborhoods, cities and counties not wanting to lose their chosen quality of life encouraged increasingly stronger state mandates. SB 330 and AB 1487 are the latest high-profile bills bent on removing housing decisions from cities and counties.
SB 330, the Housing Crisis Act of 2019, introduced in February by Senator Nancy Skinner and approved by the legislature September 6, has the general objective to “prohibit a county or city, including the electorate exercising its local initiative or referendum power, in which specified conditions exist, determined by the Department of Housing and Community Development as provided, from enacting a development policy, standard, or condition, as defined…..” Thus, the electorate is summarily dismissed.
AB 1487, the San Francisco Bay Area Regional Housing Finance Act of 2019, introduced in February by Assembly Member David Chiu is currently active and in desk process. This bill is a game changer. Voters, no matter how disempowered by mandates such as SB 330, at present can still vote down tax proposals that finance mandates they do not like. AB 1487 makes that strategy more difficult. This bill establishes a new agency, the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority, run by bureaucrats removed from the wrath of voters, with the power to place tax proposals on region-wide ballots, and to determine pass/fail on an aggregate region-wide basis.
Progression Towards Powerful Public-Private Partnerships
The plethora of housing bills in the style of SB 330 and AB 1487 passed into law during the past few years calls for a good deal of cash, perhaps more than the creative financing that could be achieved by the Housing Finance Authority would be able to raise on its own. Thus, enter powerful private players interested in housing development for reasons of their own, willing to forge partnerships with public entities. As one would expect, tech companies like Google and Facebook are becoming major players.
Google, Facebook and other deep-pocketed tech companies are at present investing in housing, a dream come true for housing advocates. They are also encouraging the California legislature to pass legislation that will streamline housing production (more on this later), since investors do not like lengthy bickering over what or where housing is built.
Of course, private influence in public affairs is nothing new. Neither is privately-funded housing developed with government blessings — company towns like Hershey, Marktown, and Pullman are examples. However, today California is witnessing not just tech-towns developed for tech workers, but also the much broader endeavor of using tech money to fund housing for the general population.
Recommended Articles on Public-Private Partnerships
A San Francisco Bay Area publication, 48 Hills, has been deeply concerned about the waning power of voters in land use, housing and transportation decisions. A series of articles by researcher and journalist Zelda Bronstein, published in 48 Hills, explains in great detail how a private entity, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, is poised to affect housing policy. In the first two installments published May 29, 2019 and August 29, 2019 of the series (there might be more to come), Ms. Bronstein zeroes in on Senate Bill 330 and Assembly Bill 1487.
The articles are rich with information that Bay Area residents will find useful in understanding who is becoming in charge of their neighborhoods.