NBLC’s Endorsements for November 2016 Election

The election in November ends a contentious Presidential campaign and some hotly contested races in the North Bay.  The volume of propositions requires voters to do a lot of homework to decide what is best.  NBLC urges you to vote this year and resist voter fatigue and/or dismay.  Your vote counts – never more so then this election cycle!

Here is who/what NBLC is endorsing:

State Senate:

3rd District:  Bill Dodd 

Assembly:

10th District:  Marc Levine

Marin County Supervisor:

4th District:  Dominic Grossi

Sonoma County Supervisor:

5th District:  Lynda Hopkins

City of Santa Rosa:

Ernesto Olivares

Chris Rogers

Don Taylor

City of Petaluma:

Mike Healy

Kathy Miller

Ballot Measures:

Marin County

Measure A – Marin Strong Starts for Children (PreK and Services):   SUPPORT

Sonoma County

Measure J:  Regional Parks and Water Improvement Tax:  SUPPORT

Measure M:  Transgenic Contamination Prevention Ordinance/Anti-GMO:  OPPOSE

Statewide

Prop 51 Schools Bonds:  K-12 and Community College:  SUPPORT

Prop 52 State Fees on Hospitals. Federal Medi-Cal Matching Funds:  SUPPORT

Prop 53 Revenue Bonds – Requires Statewide Voter Approval – Initiative Constitutional Amendment:  OPPOSE

Prop 54 California Legislative Transparency Act:  SUPPORT

Prop 55 Tax Extension to Fund Education and Healthcare:  Extends temporary tax enacted during the recession for 12 more years.  Taxes higher income people: SUPPORT

Prop 64 Marijuana Legalization:  SUPPORT

“I believe that voting is the first act of building a community as well as building a country,” said John Ensign.  It would be a great sign of healthy civic engagement if the North Bay has a very high voter turnout this election.  Let’s be the leaders!

Close to Home: Reject Voting Pledges in Local Elections

A former state Assembly member once said that the biggest problem in state politics is the serious decline of independent thought by elected officials. Sacramento politicians usually toe the party line — whether Republican or Democrat — or suffer the consequences, which often includes their party finding a new candidate who will follow voting orders.

There is a similar trend in politics in the North Bay that is equally troubling. It is the growth of voting pledges or similar commitments that some special interest groups require candidates for local office to sign in order to get that group’s endorsement and funding.

Increasingly during campaigns, candidates are being asked for more than just their general views on broad topics such as education, transportation, health care, affordable housing, taxation, environmental quality or economic development.

We agree that on important issues like these, learning a candidate’s beliefs and positions is the public’s right and is an important part of the election process. How else can voters determine which candidate would best represent their own interests?

But that is not what is happening. Instead, candidates are being asked to make a firm pledge in writing or verbally as to exactly how they will vote on very specific issues if they are elected. In effect, they are being made to pre-commit their vote.

Some of the voting pledges or commitments we’ve seen insist on a candidate agreeing when elected to oppose any form of tax increase, impose so-called living wage Ordinances, walk picket lines, create district elections in cities, support labor agreements on public works projects that benefit one employer over another and make mandatory the public financing of local political campaigns. Sadly, these are only a few examples.

This is wrong. A candidate has a right to express his or her view on important issues like these and an obligation to voters to do so. But it is not right for any group or individual to demand that a candidate give a guarantee how they will vote on a specific issue in order to get a group’s funding and endorsement.

If every candidate pre-committed their vote on an issue, why would a city council or board of supervisors bother to conduct extensive studies or hold public hearings to get input on an issue? In essence, the vote by some candidates who become elected officials has already been determined before all the facts are presented — or worse yet, their vote has been promised to a special interest group. Their mind is made up or their mind has been made up for them.

Because we believe so strongly in the detrimental effects on the public when candidates sign voting pledges during campaigns, the North Coast Builders Exchange and the North Bay Leadership Council have both agreed that their organizations will not endorse or provide funding to any candidate — even ones with whom we may agree on many issues — who has signed or committed to such pledges.

We encourage local voters to take their own action. When candidates knock on your front door, ask them the following question: “Have you signed any kind of voting pledge on behalf of any group — be it business organizations, environmental groups, neighborhood associations, unions, or other special interest groups — or will you remain independent-minded if elected?”

If a candidate has signed a pledge of any kind, politely thank them for dropping by and slowly close the door. This damaging political practice must come to an end.

Greg Hurd is chairman of the North Coast Builders Exchange Political Action Committee. Cynthia Murray is CEO and president of the North Bay Leadership Council.

Preserve the Full Deductibility of State and Local Taxes

Russell Goldsmith’s writes “For the 141 million Americans who live and work in the nine states with the highest state and local taxes, the debate in the fiscal cliff negotiations whether to raise revenue for the federal government by raising tax rates versus limiting tax deductions is an important issue – especially regarding deductions for state and local taxes.

The way to generate more federal tax dollars should not be by limiting the deductibility of state and local taxes.

2012 The Year Of The Big Lie

2012 was a banner year for campaigns of misinformation, which is striking as many say we are living in the Age of Information.  How can people lie so boldly when there are so many ways to check the facts?  Why do so many refuse to believe the truth regardless of the science and evidence presented?

Whether it be political, health-related, science-related (global warming) or a disaster, we have experienced lies that would not quit no matter how often refuted or proven untrue.  There are reasons why people lie from narcissism, self-delusion, egomania, trying to spare others from the “hurt” of the truth, etc.  Politicians are prone to lying says Jim Taylor, Ph.D. in “Six Reasons Why Politicians Believe They Can Lie,” (Psychology Today, September 24, 2012), because, “Ultimately, politicians lie because … the cost/benefit ratio for lying is in their favor.  Politicians run this calculation when they create or shift a damaging narrative, attack an opponent, or respond to indefensible claims against them.  So politicians lie when they believe that dishonesty is the best policy for getting elected.”

In awarding Mitt Romney the award for the “2012 Lie of the Year,” Politifact pointed out in this case, the lie told about Jeep moving jobs to China, may have backfired on Romney.  Politifact said, “A flood of negative press coverage rained down on the Romney campaign, and he failed to turn the tide in Ohio, the most important state in the presidential election.”  The organization also points out how even though Jeep refuted the lie, the lie continued to pick up steam by being turned into a TV ad, which increased the outcry.  The more the pushback, however, the more Romney’s supporters held fast to the lie as it reinforced their world view.

Understanding how the mind works can be helpful in why lying works more often than not, even with the ability to easily check facts.  In “Diss Information:  Is There a Way to Stop Popular Falsehoods from Morphing into ‘Facts’?” by Carrie Arnold (Scientific American, October 4, 2012), she says, “Psychologists call this reaction belief perseverance:  maintaining your original opinions in the face of overwhelming data that contradicts your beliefs.”  Another form of this is known as confirmation bias, where people tend to screen out information that conflicts with their beliefs and believe information that is consistent with their beliefs.  Says Arnold, “Accepting a statement also requires less cognitive effort than rejecting it.  Misinformation is a human problem, not a liberal or conservative one.”

Given the decline in critical thinking coupled with the inundation of data, it is easy to see how discerning the truth is difficult for some.  Throw in the speed at which “news” travels and we can see how minds can be made up before the real facts are known.  If information is currency, let’s hope that people decide in 2013 to try to be more open-minded, not form opinions until the facts are known and embrace that in a fast-paced world, new information is continually developed that might require a different mindset.  Here’s to all of us focusing on building our critical thinking skills so we can be better citizens and community members.

BAY AREA’S ECONOMIC HOMOGENEITY SUGGESTS NEED FOR REGIONAL STRATEGY

While economic development planning done at local levels within the Bay Area is important, it may not be as productive or effective in maximizing growth and job creation as approaching the region as a single economic unit, according to a first-of-its-kind study released this week by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, on which Cynthia Murray, NBLC’s President/CEO, serves on the Executive Committee.

Chief Economist Jon Haveman presented the study at a meeting of the regional Joint Policy Committee. The study, which was funded through a public private partnership that includes North Bay Leadership Council, finds that the Bay Area is highly interconnected economically, with a highly mobile workforce whose decisions about where to live and work may not be at all related to local economic development strategies designed to create jobs or provide housing in a particular community. Indeed, those individual strategies may be at odds with each other. According to the report, “a cooperative and coordinated approach to job creation would take into consideration the benefits to the region as a whole of job creation in a specific location, likely increasing the returns from economic development efforts throughout the entire region.”

The study also addressed the notion that Bay Area job creation has much of anything to do with companies coming here or leaving. What the study finds is that start-up companies are the biggest driver of job growth, accounting for 55 percent of job creation. Expansion by existing companies accounts for 42.6 percent of job creation, while just 2.3 percent of new jobs come from businesses moving into the area. Similarly, companies leaving the Bay Area account for just 3.7 percent of job losses, while the death of existing businesses accounts for 66 percent of job losses. This could be a lesson for those outside the region or California who think there’s much to gain from trying to recruit or lure businesses away.

The study identified high housing costs, a cacophony of state, local and regional business regulations and a shortage of qualified workers as among the biggest obstacles to job growth.

And contrary to some perceptions of growth in the Bay Area, the study finds that the rate of new home construction has slowed to a relative trickle over the past 30 years, a trend that may be the biggest culprit for the region’s high housing costs.

It’s a fascinating examination of the region’s economic dynamics, and concludes with several recommendations that a public private partnership between the business community and regional planning agencies could provide a strong platform for the development of a regional economic strategy. To read the study, visit A Regional Economic Assessment of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Business Coalition is Being Heard on SCS at MTC, ABAG

An Article by Bob Glover, Executive Director, BIA Bay Area
The Sustainable Communities Strategy being crafted by regional regulators to align Bay Area land-use and transportation plans with the region’s state-mandated climate protection targets was in need of a reality check.But two important developments in recent weeks signal the concerns of the region’s broad business community are being heard.On July 19, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Association of Bay Area Governments, the agencies responsible for the Sustainable Communities Strategy, or SCS, voted to adopt a Business Coalition-backed alternative to be studied along with the proposed SCS during California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review of the proposal.

Then, on August 17, MTC announced that it would hire a private sector real estate consultant to independently assess the economic feasibility of the proposed SCS—specifically, its principle policy prescription that 80 percent of all future residential construction should be confined to Priority Development Areas, or PDAs. The PDAs, numbering about 200 across the region, are infill and other urbanized sites that have been deemed by local governments as potentially suitable for transit-oriented development. Combined, they account for approximately four percent of the region’s buildable land.

An independent assessment of the practicality and feasibility of directing 80 percent of all future investment into these areas has been a priority of the Business Coalition and was first requested back in May.

To read the rest of the story …

Fighting for CEQA Reform

CEQA Reform has been a key initiative of North Bay Leadership Council. This year, in an effort to achieve meaningful CEQA reform, NBLC has joined a Coalition of like-minded business groups from across the state that are working to do just that. Business surveys have put CEQA reform in the top issues needed to improve the business climate in California. The legislative session closes at the end of August with legislators moving legislation in a mad rush to beat the deadline.  During this mad rush, we remain hopeful about the legislature achieving genuine CEQA reform, focused on fixing the legal abuses of CEQA, including transparency and standing issues, as well as better integrating CEQA with existing environmental and planning laws.   
 
This Coalition has been pushing hard on achieving a solution, and the letter below was sent to every member of the California Assembly and Senate. As this situation progresses, we will keep you abreast of important news around this effort and ask for your help.
 

August 20, 2012

To: Governor Jerry Brown
Senate President Darrell Steinberg
Assembly Speaker John Perez
Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff
Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway

Re: CEQA Modernization

We have been encouraged by recent comments from the Governor and Legislative leaders expressing your support for some form of CEQA reform. As a coalition of labor, schools, hospitals, clean technology companies, local government and business, we support efforts to modernize CEQA and commend you for taking on this vitally important issue.

We believe it is possible to accomplish responsible, thoughtful CEQA reforms that preserve the original intent of the law – environmental protection – while stamping out certain abuses of the law brought for non-environmental reasons.

We reject the notion promoted by some that any and all CEQA modernization attempts are automatically an attack on the environment. This all-or-nothing posturing is what is preventing California from moving forward with environmental protection policies that foster – instead of inhibit – responsible job creation, economic growth and community renewal that are critical to achieving the dual goals of responsible growth and economic prosperity.

As you evaluate CEQA reforms, we urge you to consider the following principles:

1. Modernize CEQA to Integrate Updated Environmental and Planning Laws

  • When the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) was enacted 40 years ago, the wide array of local, state and federal environmental and land use regulations that are now on the books didn’t exist. CEQA was essentially it.
  • In the 40 years since, Congress and the Legislature have adopted more than 120 laws to protect environmental quality in many of the same topical areas required to be independently mitigated under CEQA, including laws like the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, GHG emissions reduction standards, SB 375 and more.
  • Despite these stringent environmental laws and local planning requirements, public and private projects throughout the state are commonly challenged under CEQA even when a project meets all other environmental standards of existing laws.
  • Many lawsuits are brought or threatened for non-environmental reasons and often times these lawsuits seek to halt environmentally desirable projects like clean power, infill and transit. CEQA is even working at odds with – instead of in concert with – important environmental laws like SB 375 and AB 32.
  • CEQA should continue to serve as the state environmental law for environmental impacts not regulated by standards set forth in other environmental and planning laws adopted since 1970.
  • However, where a federal, state or local environmental or land use law has been enacted to achieve environmental protection objectives (e.g., air and wetlands protections, etc.), CEQA review documents like EIRs should focus on fostering informed debate (including public notice and comment) by the public and decision makers about how applicable environmental standards reduce project impacts.
  • State agencies, local governments and other lead agencies should continue to retain full authority to reject projects, or to condition project approvals and impose additional mitigation measures, consistent with their full authority under law other than CEQA.

2. Eliminate CEQA Duplication

  • As originally enacted, CEQA did not require further analysis of projects that already complied with CEQA-certified plans such as General Plans. But a 1987 court decision dramatically changed CEQA’s application.
  • We should return CEQA to its original intent and not require duplicative CEQA review for projects that comply with approved plans for which an environmental impact report (EIR) has already been completed – particularly since existing laws also require both plans and projects to comply with our stringent environmental standards.
  • Local governments and other lead agencies should continue to retain full authority to reject projects or to condition project approvals and impose additional mitigation measures, consistent with their full authority under law other than CEQA.

3. Focus CEQA Litigation on Compliance with Environmental and Planning Laws

  • CEQA lawsuits should focus on compliance with CEQA’s procedural and substantive requirements, including adequate notice, adequate disclosure, adequate mitigation of environmental effects not regulated by other environmental or planning law, adequate consideration of alternatives to avoid unmitigated significant adverse impacts.
  • CEQA lawsuits should not be used to challenge adopted environmental standards, or to endlessly re-challenge approved plans by challenging projects that comply with plans.
  • Environmental and other public advocacy efforts to enact environmental protection laws should not be affected by any CEQA reform, and refocusing CEQA on how compliance with standards and plans will reduce impacts can also inform advocacy efforts to revisit standards or plans.
  • Finally, “real” environmental lawsuits – seeking to enforce true environmental objectives – can still be pursued against agencies that fail to make regulatory or permitting decisions in compliance with standards and plans. However, the current system of broad brush CEQA lawsuits that can be filed by any party for any purpose to challenge any or all environmental attributes of projects that comply with standards and plans are an outdated artifact of the “anything goes” environment of 1970, which now hinders both environmental improvement and economic recovery.

California is and can remain a leader in environmental stewardship, while at the same time promoting responsible investments in schools, clean technology, roads, mass transit, hospitals, infill development, housing, businesses and new jobs.

We look forward to working with you on this effort.

North Bay Leadership Council
California Alliance for Jobs
Silicon Valley Leadership Group
Bay Area Council
California’s Coalition for Adequate School Housing
California Hospital Association
Transportation California
Southern California Association of Governments
AGC California
Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation
SPUR
CalChamber
Los Angeles County Business Federation
Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
Valley Industry & Commerce Association
Orange County Business Council
San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership
Central California Council
California Building Industry Association
San Francisco Chamber of Commerce
California Business Properties Association
Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce
California Retailers Association
California Business Roundtable

NOMINATION DEADLINE LOOMING FOR LEADERS OF THE NORTH BAY!

Get Your Nomination in Today!

North Bay Leadership Council (NBLC) seeks nominations for its 2012 LEADERS OF THE NORTH BAY AWARDS. The deadline is fast approaching – June 29. If you know a leader who should be given recognition and brought to the community’s attention, please submit a nomination. 

This is the sixth year that NBLC has presented awards for leadership. To qualify you must live or work in Sonoma, Marin or Napa counties. The awards are given in five categories: Caught in the Act of Leadership, Individual excellence in leadership; We’re All in this Together, Community building: Paint the Community Green, Environmental stewardship: The ‘Light Bulb’ Went On, Innovative/entrepreneurial spirit: Empowering the Latino Community, Leadership within the Latino community. Honorees can be an individual, organization or partnership.

The awards will be presented at a luncheon ceremony on November 2, 2012, at the Embassy Suites Hotel, San Rafael. For more information, please contact NBLC at info@northbayleadership.org or (707) 283-0028.

Your Vote Matters … Remember to Vote June 5

We are blessed to live in a democracy. Please exercise your right to vote in the June Primary. This primary is groundbreaking in two ways. It is the first election since redistricting so voters have new boundaries and new candidates to consider. Second, it is the first election where the “Top Two” vote-getters will face a run-off in November. So it is possible that two Democrats can be in the run-off as opposed to the usual Democrat v. Republican run-off. Don’t miss this historic election designed to shake up how we vote and who gets elected.
NBLC’s Endorsements for June 5 Primary
North Bay Leadership Council (NBLC), a coalition of leading employers in Marin, Sonoma and Napa Counties, announces its endorsements for the June Primary.  As the only employer-led public policy organization that represents the North Bay, NBLC advocates for a regional perspective when addressing community concerns.  NBLC supports candidates that share the same values on improving education, increasing economic competitiveness, reforming public pensions and making government sustainable within today’s fiscal realities, improving transportations, and regulatory reform.

The following candidates have been endorsed by NBLC for their balanced approach on key issues, knowledge, problem-solving skills and ability to address North Bay challenges:

Congressional District #2:
Jared Huffman

Congressional District #5:
Mike Thompson

Marin County Board of Supervisors:
District #4: Steve Kinsey and District #2: Katie Rice

Sonoma County Supervisors:
District #5: Efren Carrillo, District #1: John Sawyer and District #3: Shirlee Zane

Napa County Supervisor:
District #2: Mark Luce

NBLC also endorses Proposition 28, which makes term limits more flexible by allowing legislators to serve a total of 12 years in any office or combination thereof.  It closes a current loophole that allows some legislators to serve up to 17 years in office.  Prop 28 will allow for more experienced legislators to serve and hopefully, decrease reliance on lobbyists and special interest groups who fill the void of a lack of institutional memory.

NBLC believes in strong public/private partnerships and building relationships between business and government for the betterment of the community.  For more information, visit us online at www.northbayleadership.org.

North Bay Leadership Council Endorsements for June Primary

North Bay Leadership Council (NBLC), a coalition of leading employers in Marin, Sonoma and Napa Counties, announces its endorsements for the June Primary.

As the only employer-led public policy organization that represents the North Bay, NBLC advocates for a regional perspective when addressing community concerns.  NBLC supports candidates that share the same values on improving education, increasing economic competitiveness, reforming public pensions and making government sustainable within today’s fiscal realities, improving transportations, and regulatory reform. 

The following candidates have been endorsed by NBLC for their balanced approach on key issues, knowledge, problem-solving skills and ability to address North Bay challenges:

Congressional District #2:
Jared Huffman

Congressional District #5:
Mike Thompson

Marin County Board of Supervisors:
District #4: Steve Kinsey and District #2: Katie Rice

Sonoma County Supervisors:
District #5: Efren Carrillo, District #1: John Sawyer and District #3: Shirlee Zane

Napa County Supervisor:
District #2: Mark Luce

NBLC also endorses Proposition 28, which makes term limits more flexible by allowing legislators to serve a total of 12 years in any office or combination thereof.  It closes a current loophole that allows some legislators to serve up to 17 years in office.  Prop 28 will allow for more experienced legislators to serve and hopefully, decrease reliance on lobbyists and special interest groups who fill the void of a lack of institutional memory.

NBLC believes in strong public/private partnerships and building relationships between business and government for the betterment of the community.  For more information on NBLC, go to www.northbayleadership.org or call (707) 283-0028.