California Editorial Rdp
By The Associated Press
Feb. 21, 2018
Chico Enterprise-Record on proposed ban on lead fishing weights lacking justification:
California has seen the number of licensed anglers fall by half since 1984, from more than 2 million to barely 1 million who purchase annual licenses.
One big reason is declining opportunities — more waters closed to fishing in both the ocean and freshwater, fewer trout raised in state hatcheries and planted, and native species like steelhead and salmon that are in a tailspin.
Another big reason is expense. The cost of licenses and stamps rises every year, even though usually the fishing is worse. A person who fishes in both fresh and salt water can spend more than $100 annually on licenses, report cards and stamps.
And then there are regulations — tackle restrictions that can be baffling and seasons that are impossible to memorize.
Sometimes the obstacles are illogical, to the point where it seems the state is purposefully trying to make anglers throw up their hands and quit.
Such is the case with a bill introduced in the Assembly last week by, not surprisingly, a Democrat from the Bay Area whose district has almost no freshwater fishing. Assemblyman Bill Quirk, while not an expert on fishing, is doing somebody's bidding with a bill that would outlaw many lead fishing weights.
Assembly Bill 2787 was introduced Friday and quickly denounced by the California Sportfishing League.
"There is no science that justifies banning fishing weights found in nearly every California angler's tackle box," said Marko Mlikotin, executive director of the fishing organization. "Making fishing too costly and less accessible will have a devastating impact on the state's tourism industry and communities dependent on outdoor recreation for tax revenue and jobs."
It'll hurt areas like Butte County, not places like Quirk's district, which is why we hope Assemblymen James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, and Brian Dahle, R-Bieber, can talk some sense into the rest of the Legislature. The California Chamber of Commerce needs to speak up, too.
As in most matters in the Capitol, though, we are outnumbered, so this baseless measure stands a chance to become law.
Hard to believe, but the legislation could be worse. It doesn't ban all lead weights, just ones that are 1.75 ounces or less. That's the vast majority of fishing. Weights for trout, bass, steelhead and often salmon are usually less than that and would be banned. At least larger ocean weights would not be outlawed.
Why would a ban be a big deal? Well, there are no low-cost options. Small brass weights can cost five times more than lead. Other options are copper, bismuth and steel. All are more expensive. Few are produced because who wants to buy a single weight for $2.50 when you can buy a lead one for 50 cents?
If the law is passed, it would make fishing more expensive and drive more people away from the sport.
Quirk claims the ban is needed because birds eat the lead weights and die. We'd like to see the science proving that. Five other states have banned lead weights to protect bottom-feeding and threatened loons. We have diving ducks in California, but no loons — and no proof any birds are dying from eating fishing weights.
We need proof, not suspicion, before further harming the once-great sportfishing industry in California and the tourism that goes with it.
San Francisco Chronicle on California needing to make water conservation restrictions permanent:
California's drought is coming back. Now it's time for the state Water Resources Control Board to enforce conservation measures on a permanent basis.
The depth of the state's 2013-17 drought forced Californians to make big adjustments. Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for the state's parched conditions. That meant strict 25 percent conservation orders for cities and towns, along with a long list of prohibitions for ordinary citizens and businesses.
Californians cut back on lawn-watering and attached automatic shut-off nozzles to their hoses. In some cities, people stopped washing their cars and stopped assuming glasses of water would just show up on their restaurant tables.
But the governor lifted California's emergency status a year ago after a wet winter — and unfortunately, Californians responded by backsliding into water-wasting habits. Water conservation metrics slipped statewide. By December 2017, statewide water use was down only 2.8 percent over December 2013.
Unfortunately, California's return to heavier water use coincided with yet another extremely dry winter.
Large swaths of Southern California, which have recently seen temperatures in the 90s, are already considered by the U.S. Drought Monitor to be back in drought conditions. The Sierra snowpack was at just 22 percent of its historic average last week.
So the question is not if California will need to restrict water use again, it's when. Going forward, climate change is expected to heighten California's boom-and-bust rainfall patterns. These realities are why the state water board is weighing permanent water restrictions.
On Tuesday, the board was scheduled to vote on the permanent regulations. It postponed the vote after staff proposed a change in response to public comment on irrigation systems using recycled water. (Existing systems may be grandfathered into compliance.)
But a delay is not a denial.
"The goal is to get the rules in effect by the summer," said Max Gomberg, the state Water Resources Control Board's climate and conservation manager. "We're already in the midst of an extremely dry year and that's going to mean more draw down of reservoirs and groundwater basins."
Gomberg is right.
It won't be easy for California residents or farmers, but the board should pass these permanent restrictions. Many of them are long overdue.
As water gets more scarce in California, the state will have many concerns to address. How will we provide equity to the drier, poorer communities of California? How can we balance the needs of the state's critical agriculture industry with those of urban residents? These are difficult questions that will require many compromises.
But on the matter of conservation, there should be no more debate: California must embrace it as a way of life.
The San Diego Union-Tribune on gun violence restraining orders keeping unstable people away from guns:
As The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board made clear in unusual fashion Friday, two days after the latest massacre by a gunman with a semi-automatic rifle, we have no expectations that Congress will do anything any time soon to reinstall the federal "assault weapon" ban that was in place from 1994 to 2004 or to take other significant measures to reduce gun violence. Five years ago, not even the fatal shooting of 20 6- and 7-year-olds among 26 people killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut led to legislative changes.
Then this weekend a group of angry, articulate students from Parkland, Florida, began to speak up and demand people their parents' age and older do something. Now President Donald Trump has signaled he's open to improved federal background checks for guns and to a bump stock ban. Now the outrage over gun carnage has never seemed higher.
Still, across the U.S. and especially in heavily Republican districts, some conservatives see anti-gun rhetoric as a salvo in a larger cultural war — leading some on the far right to do what might have once seemed unfathomable and to criticize the Florida students calling for tougher gun laws.
Thankfully, in California, recent days have seen reminders that there are tools available to local and state authorities with the potential to make a difference. One is Assembly Bill 1014, a 2014 state law that took effect in 2016 in response to a mass shooting near UC Santa Barbara. It allows family members and law enforcement officials to ask judges for emergency restraining orders that bar people who pose a public risk from acquiring or owning guns.
Last week, San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott announced that her office had issued gun violence restraining orders against 10 people this year alone who the office said "posed a serious danger to themselves and others." Elliott said her office was the first in the state to adopt such an aggressive strategy for using these orders to protect public safety in the absence of congressional gun legislation.
"The city of San Diego will not tolerate federal inaction," she said. "We're doing everything in our power to respond to this epidemic of senseless killing by removing guns from the hands of unstable and irresponsible gun owners."
There's action at the state level, too. Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, says he plans to renew efforts to expand AB 1014 so that the testimony of school employees and co-workers could also be used to seek a court order prompting potentially dangerous individuals to temporarily surrender guns. In 2016, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a similar measure — Assembly Bill 2607 — saying it was too soon to say if AB 1014 was effective. Ting told the Los Angeles Times last week that the new measure "really could be used to protect students as well as workplace environments from mass shootings."
This doesn't sound like someone planning to take down the Second Amendment. It sounds like a reasonable lawmaker addressing a serious problem.
Reassuringly, some conservatives agree. Writing in National Review, an ardent defender of gun rights, David French last week argued using a gun violence restraining order to deter the threat of an unstable person with access to guns "is consistent with and recognizes both the inherent right of self-defense and the inherent right of due process. It is not collective punishment. It is precisely targeted."
Better that type of targeting than the killing kind.
Ventura County Star on it being time for a new narrative on teaching:
If someone offered you a career with high educational costs and mediocre pay, with high stress and constant criticism, with great responsibility and limited support, with much bureaucracy and little flexibility, would you take it?
Fortunately for California and its children, thousands of people do every year — motivated by a passion for learning and teaching. Not surprisingly, however, the state's teacher shortage continues and will not be easily or quickly fixed.
The problem was documented this month in a new report from the nonprofit, nonpartisan Learning Policy Institute and the California School Boards Association. They surveyed 25 school districts in California and found 80 percent reported a shortage of qualified teachers for the current school year, with 82 percent hiring underprepared teachers and nearly 50 percent saying they hired more underprepared teachers than in the year before. The shortage of math, science and special education teachers is especially acute.
In Ventura County, 13 of 20 school districts said they had a teacher shortage as of January, The Star reported in a story last week. The Oxnard elementary and high school districts reported the biggest shortages.
All of this comes at a time when schools are still getting used to new Common Core academic standards and the public is demanding more and more of educators. "California's ongoing teacher shortage undermines its efforts to implement new standards, to improve learning, and to close achievement gaps," the Learning Policy Institute report says. "When districts cannot fill a position with a qualified teacher, they have no good options."
If you're thinking about getting a teaching credential, consider this:
People who earn a master's degree in education, as many teachers do, have more student loan debt ($50,879 on average) than those earning an MBA ($42,000), a 2014 study found.
The average beginning teacher salary in a mid-sized California district is about $47,000, according to the state Department of Education.
Teachers earn about 30 percent less than other college graduates, the Learning Policy Institute says.
At least 17 percent of new teachers leave the profession within their first five years, and the figure is even higher for those at low-income urban schools.
Thankfully, most teachers are not motivated by money. When the Learning Policy Institute asked districts about reasons for the shortage, low salaries ranked only seventh, behind factors like teacher retirements, class-size reduction and high cost of living.
Still, as we've editorialized in the past, we expect our teachers to test, teach and then test some more; to parent when parents aren't doing the job; to convey tolerance and teamwork and empathy and other values that may get short shrift at home. And when something fails, it is always the teacher's fault.
The overall declining desirability of teaching as a profession is indeed a significant factor in the shortage, the institute found in a 2016 study. "Attacks from politicians and 'reformers' who often have little understanding of teaching's demands can create antipathy to the profession," Michael R. Hillis, dean of the Graduate School of Education at California Lutheran University, wrote in a 2016 guest column. "We must ask ourselves how we can change the narrative around schooling to attract the passionate, creative and caring teachers our communities need."
In addition to that new narrative, we believe the answer includes easing the path for people to enter — and remain in — teaching. Selected CSU campuses, including Channel Islands in Camarillo, are launching programs to allow students to earn teaching degrees in four years instead of the current five. Student loan forgiveness, and meaningful and practical mentorship programs for new teachers, help keep them in the classroom.
We simply need to spend much more time supporting the teaching profession and less time complaining about it.
The Sacramento Bee on Trump's cruel and condescending plan to cut food stamps:
When President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress slammed through their $1.5 trillion tax plan, we and other critics predicted that cuts to safety net programs were soon to come.
Sure enough, now Trump wants to slash spending in programs for the poor and elderly, including Medicaid and Medicare, to give a gusher of money to the Pentagon, as well as offset the tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy.
One proposal in Trump's proposed budget deserves special scorn.
The administration proposes to reduce funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps, by $17.2 billion in 2019, or about 22 percent, and more than $213 billion over the next decade, a reduction of nearly 30 percent.
About 42 million Americans receive an average of $125 a month in benefits, which they get through a debit card that is accepted at grocery stores. In California, where the program is called CalFresh, there are nearly 4.3 million recipients; 51 percent are children and 7 percent seniors 60 or older. Households get an average of $281 a month, supplementing monthly income of $707, says the California Budget & Policy Center.
Adding insult to injury, the White House thinks it can cut costs even more by buying and delivering a box of basic foods, including juice, cereal, pasta, peanut butter, beans, milk that doesn't need refrigeration and canned meats, fruits and vegetables. Right, because poor folks need canned government green beans with their government cheese. For most families, "America's Harvest Box" would be about half their total benefits.
Principled conservatives in Congress, who have complained for years about the "nanny state," should be up in arms. Besides, there are already restrictions on what families can buy with food stamps - no beer, wine or liquor; no cigarettes or tobacco; no household supplies such as soap or paper towels; and no vitamins or medicines.
Advocacy groups quickly blasted the idea as fundamentally unfair, and the grocery industry immediately pointed out the costly and logistical nightmare of somehow delivering all those boxes.
Just to add a condescending touch, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney compared the plan to Blue Apron, the upscale meal delivery service, as if all Americans even know what that is.
One Californian who is particularly peeved is Joe Sanberg, a founding investor in Blue Apron who is also leading the nonprofit CalEITC4Me campaign helping more families claim the earned income tax credit.
" 'America's Harvest Box' is an Orwellian name for a program that would slash the safety net for millions of struggling families, treating people like numbers in a spreadsheet instead of human beings," Sanberg said in a statement. "SNAP isn't broken; along with the earned income tax credit, it is one of the most effective programs we have for fighting poverty, precisely because it puts power and . human dignity in the hands of the recipient."
He's spot on. If California's representatives in Congress care at all about their most vulnerable constituents, they'll deliver this idea straight to the trash.