Thomas Elias writes the syndicated California Focus column, appearing twice weekly in 93 newspapers around California, with circulation of over 2.2 million.

  • +2
  • Updated

Strong irony is in the air as California heads into the hot political year of 2018, with an initiative to end the state’s “top two” primary election system in play just as top two, also known as the “jungle primary,” may be about to accomplish its central purpose.

  • +2

On the day Gov. Jerry Brown returned to his office after 12 days wandering around Europe preaching the ills of climate change and the current United States response to it, a Los Angeles judge unsealed the latest evidence of corruption among his appointees here at home.

Ever since Brown resumed the governor’s office he previously held for eight years in the 1970s and ‘80s, he’s okayed one exemption after another to CEQA, passed in 1970, signed by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan and still the state’s key environmental law.

  • +2
  • Updated

Reports rise almost weekly about missed construction deadlines and other time problems for California’s embattled bullet train project, which hopes to see passengers move between Los Angeles and San Francisco in well under three hours sometime around 2030.

  • +2

Some of the 25 surviving Republicans in the state Assembly – a politically endangered species in today’s California – rebelled against their minority leader this summer because he went along with Democrats in authorizing a continuation of the state’s cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhous…

  • +2

Pity the poor California Republican Party. While its national brethren control both houses of Congress and the White House and might as well control the U.S. Supreme Court, chances are no California Republican will even make next November’s ballot in either of the top-of-ticket races whose o…

  • +2

President Trump might want to play ostrich about climate change and place his head in the sand near his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida whenever the subject comes up, much the same pose he adopted toward white supremacists after their notorious rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

  • +2

The only time California ceded control of its power supply to out-of-state interests, it produced utter disaster: an electricity crunch that saw blackouts and brownouts proliferate in 2000 and 2001, while the fortunes and reputations of every politician involved nosedived.

  • +2

The one bill passed this session with the most potential to improve this state’s politics is the long-sought “Disclose Act,” which – if Gov. Brown signs it before an Oct. 15 deadline – could do more than any modern measure to clean up California’s money-dominated initiative process.

  • +2

As long as Trump’s base agrees with him that science means less than their own opinions, he will only take advantage of expertise that’s convenient and cheap to follow up on. As Houston and Florida demonstrated, this will very likely mean a lot of unnecessary future deaths and damage.

  • +2

Depending on how things go in a scheduled Aug. 23 state Senate confirmation hearing on Gov. Jerry Brown’s latest choice for a seat on the powerful state Public Utilities Commission, many millions of consumers could face both health risks and higher-than-necessary electric, gas and water bill…

  • +2

The last year saw no major outbreaks of measles or any of the other nine potentially fatal diseases against which California public schoolchildren must be vaccinated – one possible result of a 2016 law that eliminated a “personal belief” exemption that formerly allowed thousands of youngster…

  • +2

As a new school year gets set to open on the nine campuses of the University of California, it’s fair for parents of prospective students to ask once again, as many have for at least the last eight years, whose UC will it be?

  • +2

As Gov. Jerry Brown travels the nation and world posing grandly as the Anti-Trump and the ultimate champion of the battle against climate change, he’s plainly very conscious of the legacy he will leave behind when he’s termed out for good after next year.

  • +2

For many years, Californians have heard “experts” (read: folks who figure to profit by touting the theory) claim their state suffers from a lousy business climate and is steadily losing middle-class population and jobs to other states, especially arch-rival Texas.

  • +2

Donald Trump’s company owns a golf club and other properties in California, but a look at his proposed budget for the fiscal year ending in September 2018 indicates the President may never have experienced one of this state’s frequent earthquakes.

  • +2

For a long time, it seemed Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s unspoken (at least publicly) agreement with Sen. Kamala Harris would bear the fruit he intended – inauguration about 17 months from now as governor of California.

  • +2

Single-payer health insurance that would cover every Californian has stalled, at least for now. Because Democratic Speaker Anthony Rendon shelved state Assembly consideration of the Senate-passed insurance outline at least until next year, a popular vote on the well-publicized, often critici…

  • +2

The 1988 Proposition 103 has saved California consumers more than $100 billion in excessive auto insurance premiums since voters passed it by a slim 51-49 percent margin, probably the reason for an unrelenting legal onslaught by the insurance industry.

  • +2

You’d better watch out, California’s second-largest provider of natural gas warned again this spring. Unless the notoriously leaky natural gas storage field at Aliso Canyon in northern Los Angeles is reopened soon, much of the state could experience electricity blackouts this summer.

  • +2

The hype for Kamala Harris as a possible presidential candidate began almost from the moment she won election to the U.S. Senate last fall, and so far she’s done little to halt it other than saying pro forma that she hasn’t considered the possibility.

Just in case anyone wonders what the real issue was in the very close race between Eric Bauman and Kimberly Ellis over who would become the next chairperson of the California Democratic Party, it was money.

Here’s a question for the many declared and potential 2018 candidates for governor: What will you do about the well-proven and established climate of corruption that’s persisted for many years under the last several governors?

Bigger, California has learned through long experience, isn’t always better. In fact, it can be downright destructive, as when a city outgrows its water or freeway system.

Only four units of the entire 417-part system of national parks, monuments, seashores and historical sites carry the names of remarkable plants and trees. California hosts three of these – Redwood, Sequoia and Joshua Tree national parks.

For months, the small, but growing, movement for California to secede from the United States was stalled in part because its nominal leader lives (for now) in Russia and attended at least one Kremlin-approved event for separatist movements around the globe.

You can call it a form of comeuppance for huge privately-owned California utility companies unscathed so far by exposure of their negligence and blundering of the past decade. They now find themselves deeply threatened by what some might consider a small army of mosquitos.