Monday, October 26, 2020






          As the key committee behind the extremely flawed ethnic studies curriculum planned for California public schools gets set to ratify its pet project in a mid-November meeting, it’s become clear this plan will become a major quarrel between so-called progressives and every other stripe of Californians early in the new year.


          That’s because under current law the state Board of Education has only until late March to ratify some sort of curriculum for ethnic studies, and myriad ethnic groups and organizations complain that the current version of the plan is so flawed it would promote grudges rather than real education.


          Odds are the state Department of Education’s Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) will do little more than ratify the plan it released to fanfare late last summer, as there has been no publicized revision since that release. The current plan is little more than a cursory rewrite of a 2019 proposal that was so bad the state board sent it back for an overhaul rather than approve it last year.


          The same thing ought to happen again this time, but may not unless state legislators extend the deadline for approval of some kind of plan allowing students to learn about the achievements, problems and prospects of California’s more than 80 ethnic groups.


          So bad is the current version, which essentially reflects the priorities of the academic Critical Ethnic Studies Assn. (CESA), that Gov. Gavin Newsom in September vetoed a bill that would have made ethnic studies a high school graduation requirement throughout the state.


          The CESA dominated creation of the plan because its members volunteered to help write it, while few others stepped up. Websites associated with that group stress “colonialism and conquest, racial chattel slavery and white supremacist (doctrines).”


          Adopting the current draft would likely see schoolchildren learn that Spain conquered most of Latin America by infecting Aztecs, Incas, Mayans and others with smallpox, allowing a very small force of conquistadors to take over huge territories and subdue previously large and powerful empires. Chances are kids would not hear that the conquistadors also ended human sacrifice and some forms of cannibalism. It would probably ignore how English settlers brought ideas like freedom of religion here after being persecuted in Britain.


          In short, this would be education toward resentment, not toward understanding of motives, ideals and achievements that came alongside the conquests that have always been part of human history.


          The CESA also divides Californians into four basic groups: whites, Asians/Pacific Islanders, African Americans and Hispanic Americans. Groups that don’t fit easily into those categories, like Native Americans, Jews, Armenians and Arab-Americans, could easily be ignored if the current plan reaches classrooms.


          Newsom was completely unsatisfied with the first version of this proposal last year, spurring the order for a rewrite. He’s equally unhappy now, as his veto message made clear. “Last year, I expressed that the initial draft of the model curriculum was insufficiently balanced and inclusive and needed to be…amended,” he wrote. “In my opinion, the latest draft…still needs revision.”


          One area obviously in need of change is the plan’s proposed treatment of capitalism. “They treat capitalism not as a system of private property and…risk and investment, but they frankly say in the original 2019 (ethnic studies) draft that capitalism is a system of exploitation of labor where surplus value from workers is confiscated,” complained Williamson Evers, an assistant U.S. Secretary of Education under ex-President George W. Bush and now Director of the Center on Educational Excellence at Oakland’s Independent Institute.


          Added Evers, “You might be a white person and think ‘I’m not racist,’” he said. “Critical race theorists are going to say ‘You are racist…you have white skin privilege.’”


          Which is another way of saying the proposed curriculum could cause California public school students to believe that all whites persecute all minorities, even if those whites come from ethnicities that have experienced bigotry and immense persecution of their own.


          So unless the IQC recants very quickly much of what it has proposed, it will be up to legislators to extend the ratification deadline so that a fair and reasoned program can at last be created.


    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It" is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit






          If anyone wanted to pinpoint the last hurrah of the California Republican Party, the focus would have to be on November 1994, when the GOP’s Pete Wilson was reelected governor and the anti-illegal immigrant Proposition 187 passed by a 2-1 vote as a centerpiece of his campaign.


          Since then, the state GOP has won a top-of-the-ticket statewide office only once, when Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor in the 2003 recall election that ousted Democrat Gray Davis on the strength of his movie muscleman persona. Most Republicans knew Schwarzenegger could not have won a party primary election because he was insufficiently conservative and interested in climate change. Many called him a “RINO,” Republican in name only, and still do.


          That means the party is 1-12 in general election races for governor and the U.S. Senate since Wilson’s final triumph.


          This came about because in the aftermath of Prop. 187 more than 2.5 million Latino California residents who had not previously shown interest in politics became U.S. citizens and registered to vote, almost all as Democrats. They turned California from a “purple” swing state to solid Democratic blue, its 55 electoral votes the firm property of whomever the Democrats nominate for president.


          Look around America today and you can see similar things happening in former Republican bastions. In every public poll leading up to this fall’s vote, Democrat Joe Biden had a small lead in Arizona, once solid GOP property. Republican Donald Trump held a small edge in the polling average two weeks before the vote in Republican-ruled Texas. The two were tied in Georgia polls. And on and on.


          Across the map, once-firm GOP territories were being hotly contested, meaning the party could spend less time and money in previous swing states. The only once-solid Democratic state in question appeared to be Minnesota, reeling from protests and riots after the police killing of George Floyd.


          Even if Democrats should carry none of the new swing states this year, the inroads they’ve made bode poorly for national Republicans.


          It’s easy to see why this is happening: The national GOP is making the same errors Republicans committed in California, failing to see how demographic changes alter the political landscape.


          The only way Democrats seemingly can lose the ground they are  gaining might be to lean too far left, if they essentially become a radical Bernie Sanders party.


          Almost all elected Republicans over the last four years became rote followers of Trump, overlooking his many documented falsehoods about the coronavirus pandemic, his use of “alternative facts” and his steady stream of insults to Latinos and other minorities. When minorities taken together are rapidly moving toward becoming a national majority – as they already are in California – those insults promise to have effects similar to the threat Latinos felt from Proposition 187, which aimed to ban the children of undocumented immigrants from public schools and hospital emergency rooms, among other items.


          Then there’s the California exodus factor. While the numbers moving from here to other states have been widely exaggerated, annual out-migration has numbered in the hundreds of thousands for the last six years. It’s probably no coincidence that states where many ex-Californians landed, like Arizona and Texas, are no longer solidly Republican.


          California Republicans know how to reverse their political fortunes: Recognize and help fight climate change, ease their opposition to abortion, get on board efforts to ameliorate racial discrimination, back consumer rights.


          They’ve refused to do any of that. So their numbers in California dropped this year to about half the total of registered Democrats and briefly fell behind the numbers embracing no political party.


          This has only begun in other states that are now wavering between Trump and Biden. But as Republicans in office there consistently do Trump’s bidding, they imperil both their own political futures and the national prospects of their party.


          The same kind of change happened here as a backlash to what many immigrants – legal or not – perceived as a major threat to them. It will happen elsewhere, too, if the GOP does not alter some stances in response to the big changes going on across America.


    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It" is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit

Monday, October 19, 2020








          One thing has been inevitable ever since extreme liberals in the California Legislature led by Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco began a concerted assault three years ago on single family housing all over this state, intending to eliminate what they love to denigrate as “urban sprawl.”


          Their thinking – really a prejudice against all but the most dense of housing situations – is that people shouldn’t have space around them and that all neighborhoods should be open to anybody, even those who lack the funds to buy or rent there.


          Wiener and cohorts like Democratic state Senate President Toni Atkins of San Diego and longtime Democratic Assemblyman Richard Bloom of Santa Monica are near to winning in the Legislature. They never came closer than in the dying minutes of the 2020 legislative session.


          That’s when their latest bill, known as SB 1120, died – but only for the most technical of reasons. The bill would have authorized up to four units on every single-family zoned lot in California whether or not local people or governments liked it. This lost only because time expired on the session before the state Senate managed to conform language in its version of the bill to what had already passed the Assembly.


          So it’s certain this measure will be back with a different number in the legislative session starting in early December. Almost as sure is a rerun of SB 902, also with a different number. This one would have allowed buildings up to eight stories almost everywhere in single-family zoned areas.


          Odds are good both measures will pass next year because they are backed by developers, building trade unions and so-called progressives who believe without evidence that dense housing is “greener” than spacious living areas.



          The same folks persist in believing new high-rise residential buildings should be approved without parking spaces previously required because almost everyone living in them will ride mass transit. Because these folks apparently have not examined bus and light rail ridership numbers both before and during the coronavirus pandemic, they are about to inflict constant horn-honking contests for parking spaces on many currently quiet areas.


          What the extremists ignore is that the issue will ultimately be taken out of the hands of the Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom, who usually supports anything to make more of the state look like ultra-dense San Francisco, where he once was mayor.


          This will happen immediately if legislators pass something like SB 902 or SB 1120 and Newsom then signs off. Any similar measure will instantly be subjected to a referendum campaign to overturn it, and the moment a referendum petition drive gathers enough signatures to make the next general election ballot – 2022 – whatever the new law or laws may say will be suspended.


          Then it will be up to the people, who have made most of the important political decisions in this state for the last 50 years, since Los Angeles lawyer Roger Diamond revived the once-moribund initiative process by winning a lawsuit allowing petition carriers to operate at shopping centers and big box stores.


          Two such referenda were to be voted on in this fall’s election: Propositions 22 and 25, one aiming to overturn AB5, a law forcing so-called gig economy companies to make regular employees with full benefits out of their contract workers, the other to nix a 2019 law banning cash bail and replacing it with judges making flight- and harm-risk evaluations of every person accused of a crime.


          Two years ago, an effort to overturn a state gas tax increase lost on a 53-47 percent vote, while four years ago voters approved a ban on single-use plastic grocery bags by rejecting a referendum against it.


          Referenda can be confusing because it often takes a yes vote to nix a targeted law. But the results indicate that by the time they cast ballots, most voters understand this.


          So it will be in two years also, if voters at last get to express themselves on some of the insensitive, nonsensical housing laws that ideologues in the Legislature want to employ to change the lifestyle most embodied in the California Dream.



    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit






          As the official Election Day approached while millions of voters were casting ballots by mail, in deposit boxes and at early voting centers during the last month, it looked distinctly possible that this might be the last election of its precise kind.


          This wasn’t just because President Trump threatened not to recognize the outcome, which bears the possibility of throwing America into unprecedented, almost unbearable constitutional crisis. But in California, there was the strong possibility that votes cast this fall might be the last in a two-party system that has become almost an unbreakable tradition.


          That’s because a move is afoot to begin a new tradition, this one involving a new, centrist political party founders call the “Common Sense Party.”


          Possessing clear potential to become a major party, it’s headed by Tom Campbell, a former five-term moderate Republican congressman from the Silicon Valley area who lost two bids for the U.S. Senate and has been dean of the business school at UC Berkeley and the law school at Orange County’s Chapman University, where he now teaches law and economics.


          Before the coronavirus pandemic hit last March, Campbell’s new middle-of-the-road party had gathered more than 20,000 voter signatures toward the 68,000 needed for official state recognition and the accompanying ability to raise individual contributions of up to $38,800 for distribution to candidates it favors.


          The signature drive ended abruptly, and Campbell has since sued and otherwise pressured state officials like Gov. Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Secretary of State Alex Padilla to lower the signature threshold in recognition of the current virtual impossibility of gathering names in person.


          Those officials, like all others in statewide office, are Democrats jealous of their party’s power and thus unlikely to oblige anytime soon even though several other states have lowered the numbers needed for new party recognition.


          For sure, this party had few problems attracting signatures while its drive persisted. One reason: it really doesn’t matter functionally which party voters register with; California’s top two primary system lets everyone vote for anybody they like in any party, except in presidential primaries.


          There’s also the clear reality that a significant middle-ground party has been needed here for decades. That’s the deeper meaning of the ongoing shift by voters from the rolls of both Republicans and Democrats to no party preference. NPPs almost match Republicans in California now, while Democratic numbers have not grown much even as population rose somewhat in the last few years.


          One reason for this is the drift toward extremism by both Republicans and Democrats. GOP adherence to anything Trump wants has driven away thousands of voters, while Democrats aren’t gaining many by sticking with a left-wing agenda not embraced by the majority of party voters. That was evidenced during last spring’s primary election season, when Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders drew a consistent 35 percent or so of the vote in virtually every state other than those with caucuses. Other Democratic voters went for more centrist candidates, but the party’s apparatus is increasingly run by Berniecrats, thanks to their packing local caucuses where delegates to state party conventions are chosen.


          Said Campbell via Zoom, “Most Californians are dismayed by the two major parties’ movement to their extremes. The Public Policy Institute of California reports that 55 percent of adult Californians believe a third party is needed.”


          Usually it takes a charismatic, prominent figure to bring a party into prominence. Abraham Lincoln did that for Republicans in the 1850s. Thomas Jefferson did it earlier for Democrats. The extreme but prominent Jean-Marie le Pen and his daughter Marine did it for their far-right party in France.


          Campbell has never been accused of having charisma, but he does have a record of not toeing any party’s line and says he would not expect that of Common Sense candidates if the party becomes real.


          His new party, he said, “will support candidates of any party – so long as they are willing to think for themselves.”


          Only time will tell if this proposed party will materialize and survive longer than the 1990s Reform Party begun by former wild card presidential candidate Ross Perot. If it does, it has major potential to change California elections.




    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, go to

Monday, October 12, 2020






          On its surface, few California propositions have ever been as confusing as this fall’s Proposition 24, which aims to toughen a 2018 state law allowing consumers to regulate how much of their privacy Internet companies like Facebook and Google should be allowed to violate.


          To fully understand the stakes, it’s helpful to watch the Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma,” which shows how social media companies change people’s behavior by using information they collect on what emails folks open, which websites they visit, where people live and travel and much more.


          For each bit of such information these companies collect and sell, they get a couple of pennies per buyer, which does not sound like much, but adds up to billions of dollars every year.


          If you wonder why American political opinion is so deeply divided, former tech executives including the chief designer of Facebook’s “Like” function describe in the documentary how people who do a Google search in various localities often get very different information than folks who live elsewhere. The same for people who donate to one party and those who donate to another.


          In each case, prior opinions and preferences are reinforced, so that even when things change in real life, they often do not alter people’s perceptions and opinions.


          The 2018 California Consumer Privacy Act aimed to correct some of this. Now the same Piedmont-based real estate developer who caused legislators to pass that law is behind Prop. 24. He contributed almost all the $5.3 million given (as of Oct. 1) to the pro-24 group Californians for Consumer Privacy. That committee name and the name of the lead anti-24 group, Californians for Real Privacy, are similar enough to confuse many voters. This is nothing new; the California initiative movement has a long history of misleading committee names.


          The big contributor, Alistair Mactaggart, backs Prop. 24 as a way to toughen the existing law, which allows consumers to request free reports on their personal data that are collected and sold by businesses. Businesses covered include those with more than $25 million in annual revenue and ones that sell and share personal data of more than 50,000 persons a year, or earn at least half their annual income from selling personal data. Companies can be fined for violations.


          Prop. 24 would add to these very modest protections by giving each consumer power to stop companies from tracking them precisely, allowing you to forbid the sale of information on things like how often you visit a gym or McDonald’s, your health insurance claims and much more, unless you explicitly give permission. You would also be able to stop companies from tracking your movements via cellphone apps and automotive electronics.


          Prop. 24 also sets up America’s first official privacy regulators, the California Privacy Protection Agency, modeled partly on European regulators which provide their citizens with far more privacy than most Americans now have.


          The proposal also would make it harder for state legislators, continually lobbied by the big Internet interests, to weaken existing privacy rights.


          One reason for Prop. 24 is that Mactaggart compromised with legislators two years ago, pulling a very tough privacy proposition he had qualified for the 2018 ballot in return for passage of the current law. That removed the possibility of Mactaggart’s putative proposition losing, which would have left Californians with almost no protection.


          Mactaggart promised to come back with stronger rules later, and Prop. 24 represents that effort. “This makes it much harder to weaken privacy in California in the future,” says the ballot argument signed by his wife Celine, “by preventing special interests and politicians from undermining privacy rights.”


          Little money has been spent to oppose this measure, and the arguments against it basically claim it would inflict compliance expenses on small businesses. Opponents also gripe that it leaves intact large agencies’ ability to save things like academic and criminal records.


          The bottom line is that even if Prop. 24 will not create a perfect world, it’s an improvement on what we have now.


          There’s little reason for voters to oppose this, as anyone who prefers to be tracked and categorized can allow it, while people who want out would get a better route than today’s.



    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit







          California already has a severe shortage of medical doctors and nurse practitioners, the non-doctors trained to do many things previously reserved for physicians.


          Now comes Proposition 23, threatening to make things worse. At first glance, this proposal seems to affect only the 80,000 kidney dialysis patients who get care at the more than 550 California clinics devoted to cleansing their blood of a variety of toxins that would otherwise threaten their lives.


          The measure requires each clinic to have an MD or nurse practitioner on site at all times, unless the state health department determines there’s a shortage of doctors in the clinic’s immediate area. That won’t happen often, or there would be no point to the Service Employees International Union spending millions to sponsor it.


          It’s different from the 2018 Proposition 8, which lost by about a 60-40 percent margin, demanding physicians on site rather than simply increasing clinic work forces, as Prop. 8 sought to do.


          Here’s one problem: There is no demonstrated need to keep a doctor on site at every clinic all the time. Doing so, since most clinics operate at least 16 hours daily and many run around the clock, would take upwards of 1,000 doctors and nurse practitioners away from patients who might urgently need them.


          Here’s another problem: Reality at most dialysis clinics is that charge nurses – already present at all times – often become more expert at solving dialysis problems than the doctors who are nominally their supervisors.


          (Full disclosure: Columnist Elias has had a kidney transplant for more than 23 years. Prior to that, he underwent dialysis three times weekly for many months.)


          Plus, many dialysis clinics are located within hospital complexes, and those that aren’t actually within hospital buildings are often very near hospitals, especially in big cities. If there’s urgent need for a physician, most clinics can get one within minutes.


          What’s more, the official nonpartisan analysis of Prop. 23 shows it would cost each dialysis clinic hundreds of thousands of dollars yearly, an expense to be paid by Medicare, Medi-Cal and insurance companies – in short, taxpayers and individuals would foot the bill.


Even the ballot argument for Prop. 23 makes no claim that having physicians or nurse practitioners on site all the time will save lives. The argument says only that dialysis patients depend on the process for their very lives. That’s true, but the kinds of complications that might bring urgent need for a doctor are rare.


So what’s this really all about? Reading the ballot arguments gives you a clue. “Dialysis corporations want to protect their profits,” the opponents say, noting that California clinics made $468 million in profits during 2018. “To industry executives, it’s a huge money maker.”


The SEIU appears bent on cutting those profits, forcing the two biggest owners of California dialysis clinics to invest tens of millions of dollars to fight off an unneeded measure, just two years after they spent $110 million to ward off the failed Prop. 8.


Those two companies are Germany’s Fresenius Corp. and Denver-based DaVita Corp., which together own about 70 percent of the state’s dialysis clinics. So far, the firms have spent more than $80 million trying to beat Prop. 23.


Their domination of dialysis sticks in union craws, as they resist expanding clinic staffs unless patient loads rise enough to create a serious need. The SEIU is also unhappy with the reality that Fresenius, one of the world’s two largest makers of dialysis machines, profits both from selling the machines, plus supplying filters and hoses that must be changed out for each patient and from fees for the treatment itself. Dialysis patients who do not receive transplants must get dialyzed multiple times weekly for their entire life spans. Many receive dialysis for more than 20 years.


It’s a situation that’s far from perfect, regardless of how Prop. 23 may do this fall. But there’s nothing in this proposition that would improve things for anyone but the union sponsoring the measure, which hopes to use it to help organize the clinics.




    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit

Monday, October 5, 2020







Here’s a situation California’s 10-year-old “top two” primary seemingly was designed for: A three-term Republican assemblyman from what once was a “safe” GOP district defies his party, goes independent and gets a spot on the November runoff ballot against another Republican.



        Back when they were advocating for the 2010 Proposition 10 and the top two system it created, sometimes called the “jungle primary,” then-Gov. Arnold Schwarznegger and then-Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, both moderate Republicans, insisted it would give minority party voters a significant say in districts otherwise dominated by either Democrats or Republicans.



        Now look at the Redlands-to-the-desert Assembly District 42 in the state’s Inland Empire, where former Republican Chad Mayes faces Republican Andrew Kotyuk in the November runoff.



        Mayes, now registered with no party preference like about one-fourth of all California voters, pulled about 35 percent of the primary vote to just a bit less for Republican Kotyuk, who entered the race on the last possible day – because that’s when Mayes renounced his membership in the GOP.



        Republican officials reacted very quickly, almost instantly gathering the needed signatures to put San Jacinto Mayor Kotyuk on the ballot. Although he’s never said it, Mayes likely timed his announcement in hopes it would preclude his drawing a GOP opponent.



        He didn’t get that wish. Still, he siphoned more than enough votes away from the only Democrat in the race, Hemet lawyer DeniAntionette (cq) Mazingo, to make the runoff against Kotyuk, a conventional Republican whose website proclaims the standard GOP contention that “Sacramento elites are hurting hard-working taxpayers.”



        Mayes, once the Republican leader in the state Assembly, was forced out of that post after he broke with the party’s longtime stance against California’s cap-and-trade program aimed at reducing greenhouse gases and climate change and voted in 2017 to continue it.



        He survived the 2018 midterm election despite that, with some support from Democratic voters in the district. To win this fall, he will need plenty of support from Democrats who voted last spring for Mazingo.



        It’s uncertain whether they will back him or simply leave vacant the state Assembly slot on their ballots.



        That’s what makes this perhaps the best test yet of whether the top two system – which pits the two leading primary election vote-getters in the runoff regardless of party – can achieve its stated purpose.



        Yes, there have been plenty of Democrat-on-Democrat and Republican-vs.-Republican races, but until now California had not seen an apostate member of one party depend on voters from the other party for survival.



        In some cases, including the Santa Clarita-area 25th Congressional District, where Democratic Assemblywoman Christy Smith is trying to unseat Republican Mike Garcia, who last spring beat her in a special election for a vacated seat, two Republicans have combined to almost become the leading primary vote-getters in districts where voter registration for the big parties is about even. Smith hopes the large presidential election turnout will let her reverse the spring outcome.



        But no member of a major party has ever faced off against an independent. In fact, independents have griped for years that the jungle primary discriminates against them. The best rejoinder to that was always that independents needed to find candidates with wider appeal, and Mayes may have given them one.



        Now the question is whether Mayes, who has joined Schwarzenegger’s nascent centrist advocacy group New Way California, can continue to pick up votes from both Democrats and independents.



        Since Mayes has sometimes criticized President Trump, who shares the fall ballot with him, it’s entirely possible moderate Republican “Never Trumpers” may vote his way, even if they’re holding their noses and after all instinctively voting for Trump, their fellow Republican.



        If Mayes can put together a coalition of moderates, independents, Republicans and Democrats, he will demonstrate for the first time that it can be done. Which would mean there really is a possibility that at least some California politicians won’t have to worry about party backing in the future. The November results will tell a lot.




    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit






        This fall’s California ballot contains definite head-scratchers: Two repeat propositions that – based on their 2018 showings – probably did not deserve a rerun nearly this soon.



        Just two years ago, voters opted by almost identical margins of 61-39 percent and 62-38 percent to reject the 2018 Propositions 8 and 10, one mandating significant increases in staffing at dialysis centers that preserve the lives of more than 80,000 patients with end-stage kidney disease, the other allowing rent controls everywhere in California.



        It’s not unusual for initiative sponsors to bring their ideas to the ballot repeatedly, despite the multi-million-dollar costs of petition signature drives and the campaign ads required later on. Only very occasionally does a rerun succeed. The last significant one was the landmark 1978 Proposition 13 property tax limit measure, which was an outgrowth, but not a replica, of another initiative that failed earlier, in a 1973 special election staged by order of then-Gov. Ronald Reagan.



        Today’s reruns are not quite as far reaching as that one, and their original versions lost by much larger margins than the original try at limiting property taxes.



        This fall, Propositions 21 and 23 are almost identical to their losing predecessors.



        Prop. 21, again sponsored by the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, is slightly tougher than its defeated forebear. It would limit rent increases to 5 percent per year, plus the local rate of inflation in locales which now have no rent control. Existing rent controls would continue in places like Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Glendale, Cotati, San Francisco and a few other cities.



        For what it’s worth, those controls have not ended the housing affordability crisis anywhere; some of the highest-priced rentals in America exist in Santa Monica and San Francisco, both with strict controls for decades.



        These are also among the densest areas in California, scores of new apartment buildings having risen in recent years to replace older, smaller ones. Most city rent control laws exempt new construction, usually defined as less than 15 years old but extending back to 1978 in some cities. So it pays for developers to buy up older buildings, evict longtime tenants and build newer units where they can charge market rates, which have climbed steadily for many years.



        A new state law passed in 2019 aims to mitigate this somewhat by making evictions of paid-up renters more difficult. And no one yet knows the long-term effects of coronavirus eviction limits.



        The arguments on both sides here are the same as they were two years ago, meaning the real question is whether the political climate has changed in California and how far left any such changes may have swung the state.



        The Prop. 23 dialysis proposition, another big loser two years ago, is at least as flawed as its predecessor. It essentially interferes with the medical care of persons often too weak or debilitated to advocate for their own interests.



        (Full disclosure: Columnist Elias has had a kidney transplant since 1997. He underwent regular dialysis treatments for many months prior to his transplant.)



        Sponsored mainly by the powerful Service Employees International Union, this measure would force the more than 550 dialysis clinics which clean the blood of patients in all parts of California to add more staff at the same time it forbids clinics from charging insurance companies for the work of physician medical directors vital to maintaining quality medical care.



        If this discourages clinic visits by nephrologists and spurs some to stop making rounds there at all, it would severely interfere with medical treatment.



        The main funding for opposition to this measure comes from two multinational companies – the German-based Fresenius Medical Care and Denver-based DaVita Corp. Together, these firms operate about 70 percent of California dialysis clinics. Besides owning clinics, Fresenius is among the largest makers of dialysis machines.



        Both Fresenius and DaVita contend, as they did in 2018, that passage of Prop. 23 would force them to close many clinics, especially in rural areas, thus forcing already disabled patients to travel long distances for vital treatments.



        Neither of these measures is back by popular demand. Both deserve to lose at least as badly as they did before.



    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit