Commentary

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 organizations like the National Headliners Club, the California Newspaper Publishers Association, the Greater Los Angeles Press Club, and the California Taxpayers Association. He has been nominated three times for the Pulitzer Prize in distinguished commentary. Elias is the author of two books, "The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government's Campaign to Squelch It" (now in its third edition; also published in Japanese and recently optioned for a television movie) and "The Simpson Trial in Black and White," co-authored with the late Dennis Schatzman. He is currently at work on a third book about his experiences with kidney failure and later as a kidney transplant recipient. Elias was the West Coast correspondent for Scripps Howard Newspapers for 15 years before he began writing books. Among many other assignments in that position, he covered eight national political conventions; every planetary fly-by; the rise of the AIDS plague; several World Series, Olympics and Super Bowls; two papal visits; several national political campaigns; as well as conducting numerous investigative projects. His work has resulted in the unseating of two judges; helped create a major state park and cause significant changes in the federal treatment of immigrants. A former Asociated Press staff writer, he keeps his hand in spot news and feature reporting by serving between book projects as a regular contributor to Long Island Newsday and the national Cox News Service. He has made numerous radio and television appearances on such programs as the Today Show, CBS This Morning, the CBS Evening News, Larry King Live, Rivera Live and C-Span's Book TV. Elias holds a bachelor's and a master's degree from Stanford University. He has taught journalism at the University of Southern California, California State University at Northridge, and two other Cal State campuses. He has been honored for his volunteer work by the Los Angeles Human Relations Commission, the National Kidney Foundation and the Anti-Defamation League. He serves on the national advisory boards of the Polycystic Kidney Research Foundation and the Center for Talented Youth, John Hopkins University. Elias lives in Santa Monica, Calif., with his wife Marilyn, a health and science reporter for USA Today. They have one son, Jordan.

Southern California Focus

California consumers can be excused if they’re beginning to wonder whether Gov. Jerry Brown cares a whit about blatantly corrupt conduct by some of his appointees to very high state offices.

Water flows downhill. It’s a basic reality now playing out 500 feet below the surface of California’s farmland from the fertile Central Valley to the citrus orchards of Riverside and San Diego counties.

There is no need — at least not yet — for total abandonment of the humane aspects of the immigration “sanctuary” laws now on the books in 276 American cities, counties and states.

"The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft agley."

It's time once more to roll out the lyrics of the Who’s classic 1971 song, “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” when examining the California Public Utilities Commission, which nominally exists to make sure monopoly utility companies don’t overcharge their captive-audience customers.

“A foolish consistency,” the philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson once noted, “is the hobgoblin of little minds,” and no one has ever accused Gov. Jerry Brown of being small minded. So why be surprised when he completely reverses himself as he did the other day on vaccinations?

It’s the same with the state Public Utilities Commission these days as with almost everything else: By the time state legislators notice something is a problem, things are so bad, so extreme that other people and agencies have already acted.

Firm Republican opposition to tinkering of any kind with 1978’s Proposition 13 is one reason voters may get no chance next year to decide whether or not to tax commercial and industrial land and buildings more than residential property.

Few things gall California Republicans more than realizing they hold just 14 of this state’s 53 seats in Congress. That’s only 26 percent of California’s representatives, while the opposition Democrats, with a mere 14 percent more registered voters, hold 39 seats, or about 74 percent.

Like a time bomb, the court decision in Vergara v. California has been mostly dormant since the last election season ended in November 2014. But its explosive potential remains as large as ever.

In the Los Angeles area, fewer than one in four households headed by persons in their 20s or early 30s — known demographically as millennials — can afford to buy the median-priced home, which now goes for just over $500,000.

If there’s one main reason for the distrust many Californians feel for government and elected officials at all levels, it may be the way special interests — from corporations to labor unions to individual billionaires — pour millions of dollars into election campaigns while hiding their identities.

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