Worst Fears Realized


By Richard Eber, California Political News and Views  

When it comes to California politics, I have been rightfully accused of being a protégée of Henny Penny or Chicken Little. Much like the fairy tale, I have warned ”The sky is falling” and imminent disaster will soon  be upon us.

My concern was generated by the California State Legislature with Democrats having over two thirds control of both Houses.  In 2018 this situation worsened with even fewer Republicans providing even token opposition to the Progressive juggernaut. With Gavin Newsom taking over for Jerry Brown as Governor, the thin red line of sanity in Sacramento has disintegrated even more.

With the legislature ending their session at the end of September, all of my worst fears have been realized. California has fallen deeper into the socialist abyss. Bills have been passed or are in the process of being enacted based on leftist ideology and special interests connected to the power elite.

We can start AB5 designed to make Uber and Lyft drivers employees and not independent contractors.  This would destroy this business which labor unions desire to do as the present system leaves union organizers in the cold.  What makes this bill especially troubling is that it was not written to deal with real problems, but rather to appease special interests

If this bill passes clients of Uber Lyft, Instacart, Postmates, and many other firms would become collateral damage to government overreach. Most drivers with the ride share companies are pleased with their arrangement which allows freedom to work hours that suit their schedules. By making these people into regular hourly employees, it would change their status into being glorified cab drivers.

Killing the “Golden Goose” would not only apply to ride share companies.  Paper boys and those delivering pizza would find themselves in the same category.  AB 5 is a job killer that prevents individuals from being able to be even mini entrepreneurs.  It is shameful that the California Legislature would try to destroy this small part of the American Dream based on the false Socialistic premise of standing up for workers.

This theme of subverting democracy in the name of assisting the common good is currently in play with a multitude of bills dealing with promoting the construction and administration of affordable housing. Nowhere in these Progressives minds has it ever occurred to them that over regulation by government, high taxes, zoning restrictions, absurd building permit costs, and complicated environmental laws have made developers pass on constructing new homes?

Their idea of dealing with the current housing shortage is to ignore local authority and impose their socialistic agenda on residents.  It does not matter that in 2018 voters rejected Proposition 10 that would have made it easier for local jurisdictions to impose rent control.  This year the legislature has passed SB329 which prohibits landlords to discriminate against proposed tenants because of income source.  The intention of this measure is give no choice to property owners in having Section 8 tenants as part of their real estate holdings.

AB 1482 imposes rent control and just cause eviction protections for those who have resided in a property for 12 months or longer.  Despite the good intentions of these two bills, they go against the wishes of voters last year and will undoubtedly result in higher rents as landlords need to recoup their costs with this legislation passed.

Now we come to housing bills that are intended to spur development at any cost.  Even though local communities would need to contend with supplying additional infrastructure, mitigate traffic, congestion, take on new law enforcement responsibilities, and build additional schools, Sacramento would be calling the shots.

Senate Bill 330 was written to rob power from local cities and silence our most vulnerable communities is a slightly diluted version of Senator Scott Wieners (D-San Francisco) SB-50 that failed to pass a committee vote earlier this session.

SB-330 is intended to speed up approval for construction of large projects by killing public hearings and local decision making for those who oppose so called affordable housing projects. In cases where rejection takes place, developers can sue cities for $ 50,000 per unit giving them a massive amount of leverage.

Going along with SB-330 is AB-1487 which gives authority in the Bay Area to the incompetent and corrupt Metropolitan Transportation Agency (MTA) to oversee mega projects.  Since bond money would be involved in constructing these Project Development Areas (PDA) prevailing wages union labor would be required.  That would add approximately 20% to building costs making virtually nothing affordable without government subsidies

Additional measures AB 10, 68, 69, 881 1483-86 all are intended to tighten the noose to impose dystopian housing projects that seem to be bringing the worst consequences of failed five year plans from  the old Soviet Union to a town near you. 

If past history is any indication the Legislature tries to get legislation passed in more liberal Northern California one year (as they did last year with AB-1293) and then get a similar measure passed the next session to allow inefficient transit agencies to get in the housing business.  Such scams go undetected as newspapers are pretty much dead while TV News version of in depth report seldom last for more than 3 minutes.

Almost no one except for conservative media questions why the State continues to place more power with regional transit and planning agencies when these entities have such a dismal track record of achieving their primary purposes?  The answer is that the State is doing everything they can to remove power from local government while allowing their friends in Labor unions to organize workers to strengthen their ranks.

In addition to housing the current legislature in deference to the powerful California Teachers Association (CTA) is pushing thru AB 1505 to reign in Charter schools, most of whose employees don’t belong to their organization.  This bill makes it more difficult to start Charters while placing more control over their operations in the hands of school districts. Among other things it allows local school boards to take into account the financial impact of Charters when determining if they should be licensed.

Such pretzel logic is insane because most Charter Schools have a far better record of educating their students than districts that would be regulating them.  The CTA does not care about this fact because of the importance they place on all teachers being union members.  The losers to the edicts of 1505 are parents and students who are given less choice in an educational system with one of the worst records of achievement in the United States.

Do we see a pattern here?  The corrupt State Government with virtually no opposition from anyone continues to destroy families with their housing, educational, environmental, and labor policies. The current Legislature with the help of Gavin Newsom is doing exactly this.  The question is when the people will, or should we say victims, figure this out and kick their elected officials to the curb.

It can be asked if my conclusions are indicative of the paranoia of Henny Penny or an objective analysis of California politics.  Only the future will tell


Richard Eber studied journalism at the University of Oregon. He writes about politics, culture, education restaurants, and was former city and sports editor of UCSB Daily. Richard is president of Amerasa Rapid Transit, a specialized freight forwarder.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal.

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