Taking the Initiative: PPIC Poll and Panel Suggest Changes to Process

More and more, Californians are turning to the initiative process to propose and enact sweeping changes to public policy in everything from taxes and school funding to social policies including immigration and gay marriage. As we have seen with Proposition 8, the ban on gay marriage, the initiatives do not always stand the test of constitutional scrutiny.  The initiative process can, to some degree, circumvent the delicate balance of powers… Continue reading

Knowledge Sharing Among County Staffers Essential to Spreading Innovation

County staffers have a lot on their plates, especially in this era of under-funded legislative mandates, reduced revenue and budget shortfalls. It’s hard for most county employees to find time to catch their breaths, let alone investigate new, innovative solutions to long-lasting problems. Yet when they do implement a new way of doing things — say, a new way of incorporating mental health services into the county prison system, a new incentive system for reducing energy consumption, or the creation of a cross-departmental innovation task force, to name a few examples — the rewards can be great. Continue reading

“Smart Justice” Videos Highlight AB 109 Best Practices

In the first four videos, we looked at Glenn, San Mateo, San Bernardino and San Joaquin counties to see generally how they were handling Realignment. Now we are honing in on singular aspects of AB 109 programming in six additional counties: Ventura, San Diego, Contra Costa, Marin, Merced and Colusa. Our goal is to show specific examples of how these counties are ending the revolving-door cycle, and helping people who have been in and out of incarceration for years to finally stay out for good. Continue reading

Whither the Sales Tax?

I spent my childhood in the Central San Joaquin Valley where summers are hot. Not quite California desert hot, but it wasn’t unusual to have days-long stretches of 100-plus degree temperatures. Luckily, my parents had a pool and we did not hesitate to use it. In fact, we spent most of our summer days in swimsuits and, occasionally, sunscreen. My dad also spent a good amount of time maintaining that pool, dripping liquids into a plastic doodad to test the chemicals in the pool water. Then he swished in some chlorine, maybe, and brushed and skimmed. It was slightly interesting, but time-consuming, and remember, very hot out. I don’t know that he ever thought he had any other option, he just did it. Continue reading