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Aug 02
2010

The Legislature and the Budget

Posted by Bruce Robinson in state government , politics , legislation , government , finances , economy , current events , California , budget

Bruce Robinson

There’s a 19 billion dollar deficit in the state budget, which should have been finalized a month ago. But the state legislature is only now returning to the capitol and preparing to get to work on the budget issue.

The graphs shown here provide some context for understanding  the ongoing budget  stalemate. This figure illustrates how the reliance on property taxes has continued to increase, while personal income tax revenues have fluctuated sharply.

 

As for where the money goes, this chart shows that education and social services account for the biggest shares.

Jul 07
2010

Golden Gate Bridge History

Posted by Bruce Robinson in transportation , technology , speaker , ocean , history , finances , construction , coast , California , author

Bruce Robinson
gg_cover.jpgEven though we may have seen and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge many times, it’s hard not to be impressed each time by its distinctive color and historic profile. The story behind it is equally impressive.

kstarr.jpgKevin Starr,As a native San Franciscan, Kevin Starr has spent most of his life within sight of the Golden Gate Bridge, and seen it from just about every possible perspective, even from below while swimming beneath the span. But there is one vantage point he has not tried.

The building of the Golden Gate Bridge was a popular subject for photographers of the day, and many of their striking images have endured as popular posters today. Unsurprisingly, Starr has a favorite, seen below.

mn-bridge_worker_0496998673.jpg
Jun 30
2010

Bill Bagley

Posted by Bruce Robinson in politics , news , media , Marin , legislation , history , government , finances , economy , California , business , budget , author

Bruce Robinson

In the 1960s and 70s, California’s legislature was widely seen as a model for state governance, a far cry from the way Sacramento is viewed now. What’s changed? A former lawmaker offers his perspective

California had only half as many residents when Bill Bagley (R-San Rafael) was in the legislature (1960-74) and the business of governing was less complicated in many respects. In those days, he recalls, lobbyist-sponsored dinners and events served as the common ground for legislators from both major parties to build the social relationships they would draw upon in conducting the state’s business.


Balancing the state budget has been the overriding political consideration in California for more than a decade now, the biggest issue in the recall election that carried Arnold Schwartzenegger into office. Even so, Bagley faults the Governor for making matters worse.

Bagley, a moderate Republican, believes California’s new open primary law will help ease the partisan logjam in Sacramento, but he also sees a critical need for impartial redistricting in the state, as the current lines were deliberately drawn to perpetuate each major party’s hold on “their” districts.

Looking ahead to the November gubernatorial race in California, Bagely and another former state legislator, John Vasconcellos, have drafted a series of 20 serious policy questions they challenge Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman to answer publically.

Former Assembly Member Bill Bagley speaking at the podium, is joined by (from left to right) former Assembly Members Jim Cunneen and Fred Keeley, former Senate Republican Leader Jim Nielsen and former Senator Lucy Killea, and by former Assembly Republican Leader Michael Villines.

Promotional copy about Bill Bagley's book:

"Politics is personal," Bill Bagley likes to say, and here is a personal journey through the politics of America's most extraordinary state. California's Golden Years offers tales of cash-filled envelopes, all-night poker games, and all the free liquor a legislator could drink. But the stories and anecdotes offer more than mere fun - they illuminate a larger lesson learned during Bagley's 14 years in the California Legislature. Personal relationships are, in Bagley's view, the glue that ensures working relationships and pragmatic compromises. "Those who play together," he writes, "say together." Today, as the Golden State faces unprecedented challenges, California's Golden Years provides both a look back toward a fondly remembered era and an insider's explanation for why politics seemed to work better then than now.

 

May 10
2010

Affordable Housing Week

Posted by Bruce Robinson in speaker , Sonoma County , policy , planning , nonprofit orgs , legislation , housing , homeless , government , finances , families , economy , construction , Congress , California , business , budget

Bruce Robinson

  It isn’t getting any easier to build affordable housing in California. But the need for it is continuing to grow all the same.

Cities across Sonoma County have done an admirable job of meeting their goals for creating affordable housing, as specified in the Housing Elements of their respective General Plans, Diane Spaulding (left)  told the Sonoma County Housing Coalition on Monday.  But a close examination of those housing numbers reveals that, even with good intentions and political will, building units for low and very low income families remains difficult.

Finding funding for affordable housing in the California budget will be especially challenging this year, but the demand for it is continuing to grow. In a “new normal” world, Spaulding suggests, the solution may lie in creating ways to mesh the housing need with other social goals.

Diane Spaulding is the Executive Director of the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California. She spoke at the kickoff breakfast Monday for the Sonoma County Housing Coalition's annual Affordable Housing Week.  See the full list of Affordable Housing Week activities here.  You can read the Coalition's  annual Housing Progress Report for 2009 here.

 

 

 

 

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