By Doug Porter
The political will to reform California’s state enterprise zone (EZ) program has finally reached critical mass in the wake of the disclosures via a Public Records Act request documenting tens of thousands of dollars in tax credits going to Sacramento-area strip club owners.
A televised report by KCRA news, complete with footage shot inside an area strip club, has provided reform supporters with a boost. The State of California is losing out on $750 million in revenues annually due to EZ program.
Organized labor in the state capital has been campaigning against EZ tax breaks for years now, calling it “a mess of wasteful spending that does nothing to create new jobs.” Building support for overhauling or eliminating the EZ program has been complicated by the fact that tax credits are shielded from public view.
Both Governor Brown’s budget proposal and legislation in the Senate, SB 434 (Hill), offer the opportunity to make significant changes that would stop the worst abuses of the program and make the program more transparent and accountable.
An account by investigative reporter Gary Cohn, published in Frying Pan News, highlights the program’s biggest flaw: providing incentives for companies to move from one area of California to another, creating no net new jobs and leaving former employees on the unemployment rolls.
Studies from the Public Policy Institute of California and the California Budget Project demonstrate that the EZ program is little more than corporate welfare having, “no statistically significant effect on either employment levels or employment growth rates” and that it’s “expensive and not strongly effective.” (h/t Labor’s Edge)
Plastic Bag Bill Gets a Hearing
Get ready for another PR assault on sanity, brought to Californians by a group calling itself the American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA).
It seems as though the APBA and their allies haven’t been able to spread enough money around Sacramento to stop a Senate vote this week on Senate Bill 405, which would phase out plastic shopping bags. Two other bills with much the same purpose died in committee.
The Bagmen, as I like to call them, have been running radio and tv ads for over a month now, hoping to “educate policy makers and consumers on the dangers of banning plastic bags.”
From California Briefing:
“California wants to continue to lead the fight against global warming, but banning plastic bags will have the opposite effect,” Mark Daniels, the APBA’s Chairman, said on a press call. Plastic bag bans are based on “unfounded junk science and myths,” Daniels said.
Along with the advertising campaign comes a PR blitz involving the ‘placement’ of stories favorable to APBA cause. They have learned the lessons of the anti-GMO labeling types (and the tobacco industry) and taken them to heart: ‘bad is good’, ‘reform is confusing’ and, above all, ‘jobs will suffer’.
This column, distributed nationally from Debra Saunders, is a fine example of their handiwork.
California Lawmakers: Just Leftist Bagmen
There is no problem too flimsy for California’s nanny lawmakers, as witnessed by the many laws that state solons have proposed to keep constituents from getting free plastic bags at the grocery. Those teensy plastic bags are cheap. They’re lightweight. They’re energy-efficient. People use them a lot, which means that they can end up as litter. That can be ugly. So Sacramento Democrats keep concocting bills to outlaw their idea of blight — not the homeless and not unemployment but bags. When Sacramento lawmakers see an opportunity to stick it to employed people who buy things, nothing can stop them.
Solana Beach is the only community in San Diego County currently with a plastic bag ban on the books, according to a story in today’s UT-San Diego.
The remaining bill on this issue, SB 405, is due for a floor vote as early as today. It would phase out single-use bags in grocery stores and pharmacies statewide by 2015 and in convenience and liquor stores by 2016. The measure was introduced by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima.
UPDATE: The plastic bag ban just failed in the State Senate 18-17. Sen. Padilla requested reconsideration, but they decided they’d rather go home for the day.
The Race for Number One Wacko
No, I’m not talking about Carl DeMiao’s decision to run for Congress, which I’m told we’ll have coverage of elsewhere at SDFP today.
The Big Question on Capital Hill is: ‘Who will replace Rep. Michele Bachmann when she retires from the House in 2014?’ Yesterday had to be a sad day for comedians everywhere when the Minnesota Congresswoman – who wants you to know she is not afraid of the investigations into violations of campaign finance law – announced she was moving on.
I’ll suspend for a moment, my self-imposed rule against quoting Glen Beck, for the simple reason that Beck and Bachmann are birds of a feather. From Talking Points Memo:
Conservative pundit Glenn Beck on Wednesday lamented the decision by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) to not seek re-election next year, calling the tea party icon’s announcement “sad and tragic.”
“Here is a woman who has weathered much, really gone the extra mile and really just taken it,” Beck said on his radio show. “Just taken it, over and over and over again. They’ve accused her of everything. They’ve never come up with anything that has has ever stuck to her.”
Beck said that he blames Republicans more for the abuse Bachmann took, saying the GOP “should know better.” He also expressed sadness that Bachmann will leave Washington while “dirtbags” like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) remain. But Beck said the Minnesotacongresswoman and 2012 Republican presidential candidate will depart Capitol Hill “with honor and integrity.”
E.J. Dionne at the Washington Post says Bachmann will live on as part of our lexicon:
Bachmannism is far from finished. The Minnesota right-winger deserves to be memorialized with an “ism” because she perfected a tactic well-suited to the current media environment: continually toss out outlandish, baseless charges, and, eventually, some of them will enter the mainstream media — if, at first, only in the form of “coverage” of what conservative radio shows, Web sites or Fox News are talking about. You don’t have to bat 1.000 or even .350 in this game. Get just a handful of your accusations and strange takes on reality into the political bloodstream and you’ve won.”
Over at Mother Jones, they’ve narrowed the race to replaced Michele Bachmann down to eight candidates. While they’re all certainly worthy, my favorites just happen to come from the great state of Texas. And all Republicans. Of course.
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R-TEXAS)
Is he crazy? Opposed gun control by comparing gay marriage to bestiality. Supported Alaska oil drilling so that caribou would have more sex. Cosponsored a birther bill. Wanted Congress to investigate the threat of Shariah law in America. Sounded alarm about terrorists who “are now being trained to come in and act like Hispanic[s].” Sounded alarm about terrorists who are babies.
Put it in granite: “The attorney general will not cast aspersions on my asparagus.”
Do people care? Gohmert represents an overwhelmingly conservative district and is better known for his outrageous statements than his impact on public policy.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TEXAS)
Is he crazy? Believes George Soros masterminded a plot to ban golf and force Americans into “hobbit homes.” Said that “Shariah law is an enormous problem” in the United States. Thinks states have the constitutional right to disregard federal law. Bragged that he helped nullify a gay divorce. Thinks Harvard Law School has been overrun by communists.
Put it in granite: “I think President Obama is the most radical president we’ve ever seen.”
Do people care? Called the “next great conservative hope” by the National Review, Cruz may have presidential aspirations. But his Senate obstructionism has annoyed more compromise-minded Republican colleagues, including John McCain, whom Cruz said he doesn’t trust.
REP. STEVE STOCKMAN (R-TEXAS)
Is he crazy? Once caught with 30 mg of Valium in his underwear. Lived in a Fort Worth park for a year with a homeless man he compared to Lenny from Of Mice and Men. Warned that sex ed classes were teaching kids the virtues of bestiality. Started an AR-15 sweepstakes for his constituents. Actual campaign bumper sticker: “If babies had guns they wouldn’t be aborted.”
Put it in granite: “The best thing about the Earth is if you poke holes in it oil and gas come out.”
Do people care? Stockman has had no discernible impact on public policy and Democrats have written off his seat—he won his last race by 44 points.
As Long as We’re Trashing Texas…
From the Pacifica Tribune, via Mercury News:
WACO WACKOS: Did you hear about this? Bill “Science Guy” Nye was lecturing recently in Waco, Texas about the sun and the moon. When he said that the moon does not shine its own light, only reflected sunlight, several people in the audience booed him and walked out, protesting that Nye was going against God’s word in the Bible. As David Bowie sang, that’s some “serious moonlight.”
Putting a Lid on Highway 94 ?
On Saturday, June 1st, there will be a community meeting for Golden Hill residents to discuss the the 94 Freeway Expansion and the Future of Golden Hill at the Japanese Christian Church (1920 E Street) starting at 3pm.
Caltrans is expanding SR 94 through Golden Hill and this will have a huge impact on the neighborhood. This meeting is an opportunity for the community to participate in the plans for this expansion. One idea being proposed is the possibility of building a Park Lid/open Space covering over the freeway between between 22nd and 25th Street.
Come to this meeting, learn more, and let the CalTrans representatives and elected officials who will be present know what you think. For more information email: email@example.com
On This Day: 1431 – Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in Rouen, France, at the age of 19. 1868 – Memorial Day was observed widely for the first time in the U.S. 1990 – The band Midnight Oil closed down 6th Avenue in New York City as they played a protest concert in front of Exxon’s offices. The protest was in reaction to the Exxon Valdez disaster.
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bob dorn says
The people who really deserve WhackoLoco recognition are Beck, himself, and Rush, and all the other trailblazers of Real Clear Comm. who disgorge insanity and make millions by it. The legislators actually do nothing.
Frank Gormlie says
I like the new look on the column.
Andy Cohen says
Gotta love those Texans…..education and intelligence apparently is for losers.
Frances O'Neill Zimmerman says
Re the Bagmen, it should be noted that our newest Dem State Senator Ben Hueso helped the reform bill die in committee (by one vote) when he just walked away and didn’t vote at all. (Sacramento Bee)