Southern California Focus

By Thomas Elias

Can any governor fix California schools?

There is no doubt that Republican Bill Simon is correct when he says California's public schools are inadequate, that they have not improved enough during Democratic Gov. Gray Davis' three-year-plus in office.

Dropouts the real crisis for California schools

Educators and parents all around California often focus on the budget crisis faced by the state's public schools. They dispute whether it's better to teach immigrant children only in English or take a bilingual approach. They're concerned about weapons and violence in schools; they fret over teacher shortages and inadequate teacher training. Beepers, cell phones and curriculum itself are subjects of controversy. All are legitimate worries, even during this summer vacation.

FERC, PUC guarantee power prices to stay high

While wholesale prices of electricity this summer are averaging about what they were before the power crisis began two years ago, there's little hope most Californians will ever stop paying today's highest-in-history rates.

'Son of Sam' ruling hits crime victims' kin

Until the last two weeks, Cary Stayner had been off the nation's television screens for more than two years. Accused of murdering three tourists in Yosemite National Park in 1999 and already convicted of slaying a park guide, Stayner quietly awaited his state trial in San Jose.

Pig-in-a-poke Simon not bringing home the bacon

California Republicans couldn't ask for a better demonstration of the dangers of buying a pig in a poke than what they're getting with this year's nomination of businessman William E. Simon Jr. for governor.

Creeping Big Brotherism threatens to go too far

It was fine when state government put the clamps on easy purchases of assault weapons and Saturday Night Specials. And it was all right when California lawmakers banned smoking in office buildings, grocery stores and virtually every indoor public place. It was also a good thing when voters opted to force oil companies and others to notify the public whenever they're using substantial amounts of toxic chemicals. It was definitely the right move when state government forced listing of campaign contributions the Internet, where anyone can see who's giving how much to whom. All these measures increased public health and safety.

CO2 cuts: First step toward energy independence

Congress wouldn't do it. President Bush opposed it. The leading makers of automobiles and gasoline fought it. So there will be no federal action soon to make American cars and trucks use less gasoline and the nation less dependent on foreign oil.

High court assures new California voucher battle

All has been quiet on the school voucher front in California for almost two years, ever since voters overwhelmingly rejected for a second time the notion of using tax dollars to let parents place their children in private or religious schools.

Mexicans conclude nothing will stop immigration

For more than 20 years, the Mexican government has been telling Americans that all it would take to stop the tide of emigration north from their country would be better economics.

Credibility becoming key factor in the run for governor

No one doubts that Gov. Gray Davis has a serious redibility problem as his run for re-election gradually heats up.

Ideology begets tax inequity, costs state billions

With 52 seats in the House of Representatives, soon to become 53, California ought to be the dominant force in Congress. After all, that's almost one-quarter what's needed to form a majority in the House, far more votes than any other state has ever had.

Consumer group becomes feared force

Nobody elected Harvey Rosenfield or Doug Heller or Jamie Court. But on pocketbook issues from insurance rates to electricity policy and health care, their Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights has now emerged as one of the most significant players in California.

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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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