San Gabriel Valley Tribune: In lieu of dead 710 freeway extension, LA Metro Board awards cities $515 million for road projects
In an historic vote, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board Thursday approved $515 million in local roadway projects in lieu of a north 710 Freeway extension, ending nearly 60 years of debate.
A list of 34 projects include removal of the southern 710 stub at Valley Boulevard in Alhambra, construction of a train overpass at California Boulevard in Pasadena, and three parking structures in Monterey Park.
The LA Metro board voted 8-0 to spend more than half a billion dollars in projects. Most of the funding comes from the $780 million set aside in Measure R, a half-cent sales tax adopted by Los Angeles County voters in 2008 earmarked for the 4.3-mile 710 Freeway gap closure tunnel.
Both LA Metro and Caltrans killed the 710 Freeway extension first offered in the 1950s that more recently was proposed as a tunnel from the terminus at Valley Boulevard through South Pasadena and Pasadena to the 210 Freeway.
San Gabriel Valley Tribune: More than 100K acres would be added to the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument with this sweeping conservation bill
A sweeping conservation bill introduced Wednesday by U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris would expand the boundaries of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument to include popular hiking trails north of Pasadena and create a federally designated recreation area along the San Gabriel River, including the western portion of the Puente-Chino Hills.
Harris’ San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act mimics two bills by Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena reintroduced in May 2017 after they languished for two years in a previous Congress without being discussed in committee.
Today, conservation bills, once seen as dead on arrival in a Republican-majority Congress, are viewed by watchdogs as receiving a green light in a Democratic-majority House of Representatives.
Many see Harris’ companion bills as laying the groundwork for merged House-Senate legislation that will require approval by the Senate, in which Republicans hold a slim majority.
OC Register: Joel Kotkin: The Soul of the New Machine
Thirty-five years ago Tracy Kidder electrified readers with his “Soul of a New Machine,” which detailed the development of a minicomputer. Today we may be seeing the emergence of another machine, a political variety that could turn the country toward a permanent one-party state.
This evolution has its roots in California, where a combination of Silicon Valley technology, changing demographics, control of media, culture and academia have worked to all but eliminate the once-fearsome state GOP. For all intents and purposes, the California Republican Party has ceased to exist.
But this is not, as some conservatives contend, a case simply of California lunacy. Several once historically conservative states — Colorado, Arizona, Nevada — have been turning ever-bluer in recent elections. The party now barely is able to hold onto seats in places such as Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida, while the Midwest, the region that elected Donald Trump, seems to be shifting back to its bluer past.
Just two years ago, the Republican Party was at its apex at the state level, while controlling both the House and the Senate. Yet Trump’s histrionics and narcissistic persona have undermined his own party, as Utah’s defeated Rep. Mia Love recently suggested. “It’s all the Donald that’s killed us,” says Kevin Shuvalov, recounting the beating Republicans suffered in most Texas metro areas, and where Beto O’Rourke almost dethroned Senator Ted Cruz.
Trump’s antics, particularly on immigration, have brought the fabulously rich Brahmin elite — Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer, the Silicon Valley billionaires — out in force, continuing a trend that has been building for at least a decade. But they also built a very impressive grassroots funding base. Together these two efforts allowed the Democrats to garner effort for two-thirds of spending on critical congressional races.
Money, as the late Jesse Unruh put it, is “the mother’s milk of politics” and the Democrats employed it in part to finance a first-rate get out the vote effort. This helped raise the midterm turnout to its highest rate since 1914. Numerous well-targeted campaigns in fairly affluent suburban districts saw GOP candidates, notably in Congress, chopped up like unwelcome crabgrass.
CALMatters: Jerry Brown's last stand on pension reform
Six years ago, as California strained to emerge from the Great Recession, Gov. Jerry Brown worked a minor political miracle—a rebalancing of the massive state pension systems for public employees.
Shuttling between unions and the strapped governments on the hook for public sector benefits and paychecks, Brown scaled back some of the rules and perks that have made public sector workers more secure, arguing that the pain would be worth it. Results were mixed: The largest benefit rollback in state history yielded some savings, but not enough to entirely fix a pension commitment that taxpayers are increasingly finding hard to manage.
Now, as Brown prepares to leave office—his own pension at hand, after five decades in public service—even that hard-won modicum of fiscal change could be loosened. In a case that went to oral arguments this week, the California Supreme Court is weighing a key legal precedent that could restore the generous pension formulas Brown worked so hard to tighten.
Brown, who at 80 has already surpassed the average retirement age of state workers by 22 years, predicts that he’ll win. But Wednesday’s proceedings made it clear that workers’ arguments are also compelling.
Whatever the ruling, Brown’s successor, Gavin Newsom, will have to cope with the outcome. And—though the state’s unfunded liabilities persist, and economists warn another recession could be just around the corner—Newsom will face a very different political landscape. Should California land in another downturn, Brown’s pension reform miracle could be difficult, if not impossible, to repeat.
The case heard by the high court today involves the California Rule, a legal precedent that requires the state to compensate public employees if their retirement benefits are lessened. In a challenge brought by Cal Fire Local 2881, the firefighters union argues that the ability to purchase additional years of service credit toward retirement, known as “airtime,” is a pension benefit that employees rely on as part of their decision to go into public service.
Washington Post: Opinion: Bill Clinton: 'George H.W. Bush's Oval Office note to me revealed the heart of who he was'
On Jan. 20, 1993, I entered the Oval Office for the first time as president. As is the tradition, waiting for me was a note from my predecessor, George Herbert Walker Bush. It read:
When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know you will feel that, too.
I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness some Presidents have described.
There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I’m not a very good one to give advice; but just don’t let the critics discourage you or push you off course.
You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well.
Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.
Good Luck — George
No words of mine or others can better reveal the heart of who he was than those he wrote himself. He was an honorable, gracious and decent man who believed in the United States, our Constitution, our institutions and our shared future. And he believed in his duty to defend and strengthen them, in victory and defeat. He also had a natural humanity, always hoping with all his heart that others’ journeys would include some of the joy that his family, his service and his adventures gave him.
His friendship has been one of the great gifts of my life. From Indonesia to Houston, from the Katrina-ravaged Gulf Coast to Kennebunkport, Maine — where just a few months ago we shared our last visit, as he was surrounded by his family but clearly missing Barbara — I cherished every opportunity I had to learn and laugh with him. I just loved him.
Many people were surprised at our relationship, considering we were once political adversaries. Despite our considerable differences, I had admired many of his accomplishments as president, especially his foreign policy decisions in managing America’s response to the end of the Cold War and his willingness to work with governors of both parties to establish national education goals. Even more important, though he could be tough in a political fight, he was in it for the right reasons: People always came before politics, patriotism before partisanship. To the end, we knew we would never agree on everything, and we agreed that was okay. Honest debate strengthens democracy.