California’s transportation future is bright. In every area of transportation innovation, California-based companies are leading the way. Consortiums of major global companies have offices throughout the San Francisco Bay area, pioneering self-driving cars that consolidate technologies from not just automakers, but cell phone manufacturers, chip designers, PC makers, telecoms, and software companies. In Southern California […]
The Golden State was one of seven with a 4-point increase in 8th grade reading, which enabled it to come within 3 points of the national average. But this joyful moment is dampened by the reality that even with the improved scores, 69 percent of California 4th graders are not proficient in English, compared to […]
For two years beginning in 2014, Stanton, California, residents were pounded by half a million dollars in advertising calling for a hike in the city’s sales tax. They surrendered to the wall-to-wall messaging, voting once for the tax hike and then against a repeal effort. In a painful irony, the tsunami of advertising was paid […]
The report from the League of California Cities includes a section entitled “What Cities Can Do Today.” This section merits a read between the lines: . . . 2 – “Consider local ballot measures to enhance revenues: Some cities have been successful in passing a measure to increase revenues. Others have been unsuccessful. Given that […]
High school graduation rates have traditionally been a barometer of student success, as well as a measure of the quality of school systems. The members of California’s education establishment have been high-fiving each other over the state’s on-time high school graduation rate reaching 83.2 percent in 2016. But a peak behind the curtain reveals some […]
The employer contribution to California’s state and local government pension systems will double, from $31 billion in 2018 to $59 billion by 2024. This estimate is based on aggregating official projections of cost increases issued by CalPERS to their participating agencies, and extrapolating those projections show the overall impact on all of California’s 87 government […]
In fact, expect to hear more political chatter of all kinds as Californians gear up to select a governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and other statewide constitutional officers; new Assembly members (all of them) and state senators (just half); members of Congress including a U.S. senator; and a yet-to-be-determined number of ballot propositions that may claim to remedy the housing crisis, fix healthcare policy and repeal the new gas tax, for starters.
The logistics of Christmas morning are immensely complex and immensely important to California, which for decades has been the primary portal for the goods that Asia exports in huge quantities to America.
That’s especially true in Southern California, whose twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have become vital economic powerhouses since the virtual collapse of the region’s aerospace industry in the 1990s.
Beyond the devastation and personal tragedy of the fires that have ravaged California in recent months, another disaster looms: an alarming uptick in unhealthy air and the sudden release of the carbon dioxide that drives climate change. As millions of acres burn in a cycle of longer and more intense fire seasons, the extensive efforts of industry and regulators to protect the environment can be partly undone in one firestorm.
Julie Cart, the environmental writer for CALmatters who covered Brown’s European sojourn, delved into the report’s data and discovered that the major reason for last year’s drop in emissions wasn’t cap-and-trade, or any other state action. Rather, it occurred because unusually heavy winter rain and snow storms allowed utilities to depend less on generating electricity by burning fossil fuels and more on hydroelectric power from dams in California and other states.
Last year was a very good one for the state’s economy. The 3.3 percent gain in economic output in 2016 was more than double that of the nation as a whole and one of the highest of any state.
However, California stumbled during the first half of 2017. California’s increase was an anemic six tenths of one percent in the first quarter compared to the same period of 2016, and 2.1 percent in the second quarter, well below the national rate and ranking 35th in the nation.
According to analyses from the air board and independent experts, last year’s emissions drops came about not because of technological breakthroughs or drastic pollution reductions from oil refineries or other industries, nor did the lauded cap-and-trade program make a signifiant difference.
The more important data point is that with essentially no gains in 2017, fewer than half of California’s children are meeting English standards and fewer than 38 percent in math.
That should be seen as a major crisis, but when one looks at the numbers for black and Latino kids, and those classified as poor or “English learners,” they even more shameful.
While three-quarters of Asian students and two-thirds of whites hit the competency mark in English, fewer than a third of black students and just over a third of Latinos did. For poor kids, it was 35.5 percent and for English learners, a minuscule 12.1 percent.
The scores on mathematics were even worse, just 37.6 percent overall, 19 percent for blacks and 25.2 percent for Latinos. The best spin state schools Supt. Tom Torlakson could muster was
The best spin state schools Supt. Tom Torlakson could muster was a weak “I’m pleased we retained our gains,” followed by a rationalization that “these tests are far more rigorous and realistic than the previous paper and pencil tests.”
The low achievement of disadvantaged children is obviously important for their individual futures, but what makes it critical to the state as a whole is that they are about 60 percent of the state’s K-12 students.
California’s politicians and civic leaders have portrayed Tesla as the crown jewel of the state’s efforts to build a new economy for the 21st century while dramatically reducing carbon emissions. Gov. Jerry Brown has set a goal of having 1.5 million battery- or hydrogen-powered “zero emission vehicles” or ZEVs on California roads by 2025, roughly five times their current numbers, with ZEVs being 15 percent of all new car sales by then. Toward that end, the state has been an indirect investor in Tesla through corporate tax breaks and direct subsidies to purchasers of its cars. Tesla has also benefited handsomely by selling credits to other automakers in lieu of their meeting state quotas for making and selling ZEVs. If Tesla doesn’t deliver on its ambitious production and sales goals for Model 3 and finally become profitable, it will not only be a huge setback for Musk and other stockholders, but for the politicians who are also betting on its success.
Slowly – but surely – we are learning that the near-catastrophic failure of Oroville Dam’s main spillway wasn’t truly caused by weather, even though the state claims that in seeking federal aid for repairs. Rather, it resulted from poor engineering and construction when the nation’s highest dam was rising more than a half-century ago as the centerpiece of the State Water Project, and poor maintenance since its completion. The latest evidence is a huge report by a team of engineering experts, headed by Robert Bea and Tony Johnson of the University of California’s Center for Catastrophic Risk Management. It concluded that the dam’s fundamental flaws were compounded by decades of neglect by the state Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the Division of Safety of Dams (DSOD). . . .But there’s an even more pertinent question raised by the Bea-Johnson study – whether the state is even capable of competently building and maintaining huge public works projects. One recalls the more recent example of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, one third of which was replaced after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake revealed the section’s flaws. It not only took a quarter-century to design and build the futuristic replacement, but costs wound up four times their original estimate and after it was completed, it was revealed that there were major construction flaws that the Department of Transportation didn’t disclose but investigative journalism by The Sacramento Bee exposed. When asked about it, Brown infamously replied, “Shit happens.”