It is time that power companies get the message that rather than running to Sacramento to change the rules, they should win ratepayers with lower bills and demonstrably greener power. So far, PG&E has not been able to convince ratepayers it provides either.
San Bernardino County Sun: Here's a vote against politicians who wish for low turnout: Editorial
In an interview with the editorial board last week, a candidate for statewide office spelled out his plan for victory in November. He's hoping for low voter turnout.
"The less the better for us," said Greg Conlon, who is running for California treasurer.
Conlon's statement may not be incorrect. But it's wrong.
Voters should take a dim view of any candidate for any office who wishes for less public interest in a major election, especially any who's so cynical as to think it's OK to express that wish in an on-the-record session such as the meeting in which Conlon sought the Los Angeles News Group's endorsement.
Now, we understand why Conlon might feel as he does. He's a Republican campaigning against an established Democrat, twice-elected state Controller John Chiang.
In California, the latest voter-registration statistics give Democrats a 43.4 percent to 28.4 percent advantage over Republicans, which is the big reason Democrats hold all of the statewide offices and large majorities in both houses of the Legislature.
That means a Republican office-seeker, hoping to break through, must win over some voters from the Democratic Party, from other official parties and from the ranks of the independents. Or, failing at the persuasion game, he or she must win the turnout game, hoping Republican voters cast ballots in higher proportions.
For the second scenario to happen, it would help the Republican candidate if a lot of Democratic voters decided to sit out the election. Hence the tactical logic: Lower overall turnout for the state general election on Nov. 4 would be good for Republicans because it probably means many members of the dominant party are staying home.
And Republicans think this could happen. Not necessarily because Democratic voters are unexcited by their candidates, but because the Democrats' major-office candidates such as Gov. Jerry Brown are so far ahead in polls that their supporters may conclude their votes aren't needed.
Californians may assume that conversations about the supposed benefits of low turnout are going on in Republican campaign war rooms, in party offices, and among the political analysts quoted in news reports about the parties' election prospects; strategists' job is to help their candidates win, not to think about what's best for society.
But we should expect the candidates themselves, the people vying to lead the state, to aim higher. We should expect them to encourage public participation, to try to excite voters about going to the polls, to try to persuade members of the other party — not cheer for large numbers of Californians to skip the exercise of democracy.
As shown by the record-low 25.2 percent turnout of registered voters in the June state primary, California and many other places face a crisis of community engagement. Candidates and office-holders should be fighting this trend by trying to earn voters' support.
For Greg Conlon and any like-minded candidates, stoking supporters' hopes by encouraging the further erosion of democracy may be smart tactics in the short run. (In that it implies desperation, it could even be praised as rare honesty.)
It's bad for the state, though. To hear a supposedly serious candidate for high office talk that way is chilling.
Imperial Valley Press: Fast-food wages cannot rise when the middle class falls
All told, more than 125 people were arrested around the nation Thursday in a show of solidarity for raising the pay of fast-food workers. With most of their ire aimed at McDonald's, hundreds of low-wage fast-food workers and their supporters staged sit-ins, marches and other forms of protest to draw attention to raising their pay to, in most cases, $15 an hour.
The arrests were but a small percentage of the thousands who turned out on both coasts and all points in between, showing but a fraction of the fastest-growing segment of wage earners in the current economy.
We feel for them; it's not an easy job, nor a fun one, and attempting to survive on fast-food wages, let alone raise a family, is nearly impossible.
But simply paying them more is unrealistic and is a problem that cannot be rectified without first addressing other wage disparities in this country that are sending a whole class of trained and educated middle-wage workers into the ranks of the working poor alongside the fry cooks and drive-through cashiers of America.
When a young man or woman has bought into the message from generations back that the only way to succeed is through education, it's upsetting to be shaken by the hard reality that the post-college jobs just aren't there. But the huge student debt is. That's a tall order to then rally the rest of the nation to summon $15 an hour for the fast-food workers.
In many cases, in many places — especially Imperial County — a college grad with an associate's or a bachelor's is hard-pressed to find a job that pays 15 bucks an hour with benefits and vacation. To think that the economics we live under in this country would support that wage for an often undereducated and unskilled workforce is not going to engender a lot of sympathy in private.
We realize that sounds cruel and callous, but it's the truth that none of us want to publicly acknowledge.
Education and job skills are still the pathway to success, to a bigger slice of pie, but until those jobs resurface and are created at the same clip as low-wage service industry jobs and high-wage upper management and refined technical positions, the "fast-food nation" will remain poorly paid.
There is not one part of what we have written that gives us any solace. In an ideal world, the men and woman who cook our burgers and fries, who fry our chicken and serve our sodas, would earn that livable wage. But that can only be realized when there is a strong middle class in this country, the foundation that supports those jobs and creates the real economic engine that defines American prosperity.
Lompoc Record: Hunger in midst of plenty
It seems strange when you look at Santa Barbara County's sweeping vistas and hillside mansions, but there are a lot of hungry people living among us.
We don't mean hungry for success, fame or fortune. We're talking about hungry for food — as in, simply not having enough to eat. And Santa Barbara County has more than its share of people without enough to eat.
Here's a sobering fact — this county has a greater percentage of its population living with hunger on a day-to-day basis than in the overall U.S. population. Santa Barbara County's population hovers around 430,000, and it is estimated that just more than 100,000 of those residents don't have enough to eat.
One in four people living with hunger is not the kind of information local chambers of commerce or tourism organizations would want to publicize.
Yet, the facts are undeniable. Last year, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County doled out supplies to more than 300 nonprofit organizations, which in turn provided food assistance to more than 100,000 local residents.
A "perfect storm" of events has become almost a cliche, but frankly, that's what happened with regard to feeding the hungry.
The Great Recession not only cost people their jobs and homes, it also caused those still working to tighten down on expenses. In many households, donating to charitable organizations was relegated to the "not-at-this-time" list. The Foodbank was hit especially hard, as donations of both food and money dropped off as the recession deepened.
Then came California's drought, which has put even more people out of work, reduced crop yields, thus forcing up prices at the supermarket. The recession may have run its course, but the drought drones on.
Then the U.S. Congress decided to make things worse for America's down-and-out population by reducing food stamp benefits for nearly 50 million Americans. As usual in recent years, Congress' poor timing was impeccable.
But Americans are nothing if not resourceful, and despite so many factors working against them, the folks at the Foodbank continue to come through. Last week they received a truckload of produce provided by a consortium of California organizations. It was one of 15 truckloads donated by growers from San Diego to Merced.
Fresh produce is part of the Foodbank's feed-the-hungry formula, and last year the organization distributed about 4 million pounds of fruits and vegetables. That truckload delivery last week was vitally important, because Foodbank officials say donations so far this year are running about 40-percent below normal.
All of which compels us to ask you — beg, really — to think about the needs of more than 100,000 fellow residents when you're grocery shopping, or cleaning out a kitchen cupboard that probably contains canned foods you're likely to never use or need.
The only food the Foodbank can't accept are home-canned products, cans without labels, candy and soft drinks — the Foodbank is committed to promoting a healthy diet, even when hunger is at issue — and no pet food.
Monetary contributions are also welcome, and the Foodbank's shoppers are quite adept at turning a $1 donation into a purchase of anywhere from $4 to $7 worth of food, thanks to bulk buying.
It's easy to help out. You can send a monetary donation to: Foodbank, 490 W. Foster Road, Santa Maria 93455, or drop food donations off at that location. For more information on how you can help, call 937-3422.
It seems like all this shouldn't be necessary in a land of such plenty - but it is.