Commentary

Southern California Focus

By Thomas Elias

Automakers' baloney exposed again

For the last 40 years, no one has lied louder and more laughably about smog controls than the automobile industry. Now it's clear they've been at it again this year.

Amid the blunders, Simon campaign had one touch of near genius

Rarely has a political campaign been so filled with blunders as this fall's drive by William Simon Jr., the failed Republican candidate for California governor. At the same time, his effort was marked by a single realization that very nearly placed it in the realm of political genius.

GOP fails test of its will to win

Never before has California's Republican Party suffered through so depressing a time as in the last four years, enduring the losses of all but two statewide offices in 1998, then watching a scandal eliminate one of those officeholders, then falling in 2000 to the lowest numbers in the Legislature for either major party in more than 50 years.

Will the real Gray Davis emerge? Or have we seen him?

For decades, Gray Davis has been a legendary fund raiser. He and his campaign managers have always said he's had to be, because he has little money of his own and continually faced super-wealthy candidates like Al Checchi, Dianne Feinstein and Bill Simon.

Federal electricity monitoring too little and too late

Suddenly, two new figures are appearing regularly on the floor of the California Independent Service Operator, the agency parceling out energy on this state's electricity grid.

Local propositions test voters' continued generosity

For two years since voters passed Proposition 39, school districts have had virtual carte blanche in passing construction and equipment bond issues.

Fixation on campaign finance obscures deep conflicts on issues

There's one reason why this fall's contest for governor remains at least somewhat unpredictable with only days to go before the vote: It has focused almost entirely around campaign finance, a factor that has never before proven so critical in any California political campaign.

Master plan challenges equal school funding rules

Not since 1971 has there been a serious challenge to the rule that tax dollars spent on public education in this state must be spread as equally as possible among all students in the state.

Prop. 227: California again felt around nation

As always, California voters will be guaranteed privacy at the polls early next month. But that doesn't mean nobody will be watching as they say yes or no to the innovative items on this state's ballot, things like Election Day voter registration and mandating heavy spending on after-school programs.

Casino tribes thwarted in effort to become a special class

California's casino-wealthy Indian tribes enjoyed an incredible run of good fortune over the last four years. They won voter approval of two ballot initiatives giving them the right to expand their casino operations vastly. Their reservations now sport more slot machines than Las Vegas. They contributed more money to California politicians and political campaigns than any other interest group.

Gray Davis: lucky like a hard-working fox

Gov. Gray Davis is the "Mr. Lucky" of California politics. So said one of California's leading political science professors the other day, claiming he's "the luckiest candidate in California's modern political history." This myth is now repeated over and over by reporters. It is not true.

Deja vu in run for governor, but shoe on other foot

The scene the other day in the Santa Clara driveway of Rod Diridon looked completely familiar to folks who have followed California politics for awhile. And it wasn't the only part of this fall's strange run for governor that's arousing a sense of d?j? vu.

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Thomas Elias

Columnist and author Thomas Elias writes a syndicated politcal column appearing twice weekly in 70 newspapers around California, with a circulation of over 1.89 million. He has won numerous awards from ...

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