Read Gov. Brown’s State of California speech

Here is the text of Gov. Jerry Brown’s State of the State speech, which he gave Thursday morning to generally favorable reviews — although there remain many critics of high-speed rail project and his proposal to build water-carrying tunnels beneath the San Joaquin Delta.


The message this year is clear: California has once again confounded our critics. We have wrought in just two years a solid and enduring budget. And, by God, we will persevere and keep it that way for years to come.

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Plastic bag ban proposal is revived in California

Plastic bags are back in the spotlight and the subject surely will spark heated debate among liberals, conservatives, environmentalists and people opposed to nanny-state style government.

Assembly Member Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, is reviving a bill that would ban single-use plastic bags in California grocery stores. You can read more about the bill in this Sacramento Bee story.

Back in 2011, then Assembly Member Julia Brownley proposed a similar bill, but it died in the face of stiff opposition from bag manufacturers and grocers.

And, the year before that, a proposed ban on plastic bags also was shot down.

At that time, I wrote lyrics summing up California’s messy, hands-out politics.  With apologies to George M. Cohan, they are to be sung to the patriotic marching tune “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”

You’re a small old bag,

 You’re a white plastic bag

 And forever on earth you may wave.

 You’re the emblem of

 A state gone nuts,

 The home of officials who cave.

 Ev’ry hand is out

 ’neath the Golden Bear’s snout,

 Where there’s always a secret deal.

 Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

 Stuff the cash in a plastic bag.


You’re a small old bag,

You’re a white plastic bag

And forever the pols you will save.

You’re the emblem of

a market gone pfft!

The home of the taxpayer slave.

Ev’ry crook wants in

‘on the Capitol din,

And there’s never a budget on time.

Should auld fat pensions be forgot,

Stuff the checks in a plastic bag.


 You’re a small old bag,

 You’re a white plastic bag

 And forever the votes they will crave.

 You’re the emblem of

 A dream gone bust.

 The home of the conspiring knave.

 Ev’ry heart beats true,

 More for me, less for you,

 Real voter choices are a drag.

 Should auld rigged districts be forgot,

 Stuff the cash in a plastic bag.


You’re a small old bag,

 You’re a white plastic bag

 And forever the land you will spoil.

 You’re the emblem of

 the job to get,

 A post for Meg or Jerry to toil.

 Monied crowds beat true,

 Leave the folks black and blue,

 Let them sing an old corny rag.

 Should party bosses be forgot,

 Stuff the checks in a plastic bag.


GOP looks to 2016 and a Rubio presidency


Mark K. Lewis, in a column for The Week website, believes that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (pictured with Mitt Romney last year) has what it takes to return the Republican Party to the White House in 2016.

At first glance, a Rubio victory might appear far-fetched. But when you consider Barack Obama’s meteoric political rise, a Rubio presidency four years from now isn’t out of the question.

Among the challenges for Rubio, or any GOP presidential nominee, will be matching the Democratic Party’s voter-turnout organization, gaining the trust of Latino voters and distancing the Republican brand from Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” gaffe.

You can read Lewis’ column on Rubio here.

Silly season begins anew in Sacramento

Some government-watchers say that California is ungovernable because of its tremendous diversity.

But the fact is,  California voters have entrusted the Democratic Party to turn the state around. Democrats occupy all statewide offices, including the governor’s chair, and have a supermajority in the Assembly and Senate.

So, the state is governable from the standpoint of getting things done.

On the heels of the November election, however, there already are troubling signs that some Democrats have no idea of what’s best for California.

First was the “Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights and Fairness Act” introduced by Assembly Member Tom Ammiano of San Francisco. If the bill is signed into law as written, local authorities would surrender control of sidewalks, parks, beaches, bus stops — you name it.

Second was today’s introduction of legislation by Assembly Member Roger Hernández of West Covina that would give state employees another paid holiday. They now have 11 plus two “floating” days off with pay annually.

Hernández proposes designating the second Monday in October at Native American Day. You might recall the second Monday in October is Columbus Day, a holiday the state took off the calendar, along with Lincoln’s Birthday, in 2009.

This is a bad idea at the wrong time. State workers don’t need another paid holiday.

Hernandez and Ammiano are tone deaf and blind to the needs of Californians struggling with a slow recovery and efforts to get state government finances back on track.

They should focus on developing the state’s economy, balancing the state budget, rebuilding infrastructure and restoring the state as an educational leader.

The voters get it. They’re approved reforms such as citizens redistricting, the Top 2 primary system and term-limits modifications. They’ve voted higher taxes on themselves to ease the government budget crunch and save schools.

But clearly Hernandez and Ammiano don’t get it.

Read more here:


Remembering Huell Howser

A little bit of California passed away Sunday night with the death of Huell Howser, the everyman who taught us many things about our Golden State.

Howser’s genius was his enthusiasm for life, zest for adventure and his ability to connect with people.

It didn’t matter if he was interviewing someone for his “California’s Gold” PBS television series or if you were watching the show from your living-room couch, you felt the connection.

Howser was corny, yes. But he was real. And, in a time of slick television often shaped by market research and technology. it was refreshing to see a man and his microphone searching California’s nooks and crannies for regular folks and interesting stories.

Who couldn’t relate to Huell?

He admitted he was out of breath climbing stairs to a lighthouse. He got spooked while kayaking through coastal caves. He was a big, strong Tennessee-born Marine who loved life and people, as well as California’s natural and man-made wonders.

For a Baby Boomer like me, “California’s Gold” rekindled memories of simpler times. Watching the show was like taking a family vacation in the 1960s — the kids all packed into a car, and Dad telling us what sights to watch for.

Comedians made fun of Howser. I did, too, especially his habit of repeating information gleaned from a person into the very next question.

But imitating Howser and his dawdling interviews was, as they say, a form of flattery and expression of our approval.

He worked his way into our hearts one episode and mile at a time, all the while teaching us about California, its places and its people.

All together now, let’s honor him by saying, “That’s amazing!”