Friday, December 30, 2022






        It’s become a cliché, the shibboleth that California has lousy public schools and most of the kids don’t care.


        Now those students are providing strong evidence that this is a very false narrative. The kids care, as do most of their parents. So do the teachers assigned to them.


        That’s one takeaway from the record number of schoolchildren who turned out over the just-concluded winter break for extra classes designed to help start making up for learning missed or lost during the online-only era caused by the coronavirus pandemic.


        No one doubts that plenty was lost – some say stolen – from the children during those almost two years when most public schools did not operate in person.


        Standardized tests have proven this, with drops in student performance at almost all levels in reading and math.


        But under the state’s Expanded Learning Opportunities program, school districts can now add three hours to their school days and extend the school year 30 days to help students improve their academics. Since every study shows the poorer a child’s family, the more learning was lost, most districts are prioritizing low-income pupils, English learners or kids in foster care.


        On what was the first day of the program in many places – Dec. 19, 2022, the first additional full day of instruction – hundreds of thousands of students turned out for extra classes, most teachers reporting the kids were enthused, even as they were losing free time.


        All the numbers are not yet in, but the Los Angeles Unified district alone reportedly drew 72,000 kids at about 300 campuses. That amounted to almost 20 percent of all the district’s students, almost five times the population of the city of El Segundo, which abuts the LA district, second largest in the nation and California’s largest by far.


        Los Angeles schools Supt. Alberto Carvalho touted the “lower class sizes, with individualized, personalized attention, looking at what each student is lacking and providing them with what they need.” He also said the extra days and the additional work students got in over the winter break and will do again over the upcoming spring break, should allow many to make up enough lost time and assignments to graduate on time, rather being delayed six months to a year.


        Yes, there were places where turnout was low. At some schools, only about one-tenth of those who signed up actually came to class. But officials at several districts said the majority of students who showed up were those who missed the most and therefore need the most help.


        That, said Los Angeles officials, demonstrated there’s a real need for the extra school days. San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen told a reporter that “More kids were failing than succeeding in public school even before the pandemic; the situation is much worse now. So it’s about time we did something.”


        Most funding for teachers and other staff on these extra school days and others created by extending the school year to June 15 in most places will come from the state budget’s $37 billion in added education spending for this academic year. But local districts running special programs during school breaks will also pay. The Los Angeles program alone will cost the district $122 million.


        This all puts the lie to the myth that no one in power and no one directly involved with the schools cares much about them or their students.


        With teachers putting in extra time, administrators and staff opening schools on what normally would be vacation days and thus extending the school year, any student who wants to succeed now has more opportunity.


        So far, it appears that a healthy number will take advantage of this unique chance (no one expects this year’s program and extra budget to be repeated soon).


        The bottom line: Any program that can improve the academic standing – and most likely the futures – of the large percentage of California public school students detrimentally affected by the pandemic must be considered a myth-busting plus.


    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






Almost any way you look at it, the current request by California’s largest utility company for $1.36 billion over the next three years in subsides for its wildfire prevention program can only be described as yet another attempt to rip off its 16 million customers.


It will be up to the five-member California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to decide whether the company gets away with this latest attempt at highway robbery.


Plus, it’s a virtual certainty that if PG&E gets the money it now seeks, the state’s other big privately-owned electric companies – Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric – will shortly beg for a similar handout.


        These companies, are never bashful about asking for handouts. This was evident when Edison tried to get consumers to foot almost the entire bill of about $5 billion for shutting down its disabled San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, destroyed in 2012 by a company blunder.


        Also when the utilities in 2020 gladly accepted a $13 billion state-mandated subsidy from their customers to pay for damages from future wildfires they might cause. And now, as PG&E gladly takes more than $2.5 billion from consumers and federal taxpayer subsidies to keep its Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant open five years beyond the previous retirement date.


        What makes the newest PG&E request for a big consumer subsidy (an average of about $7.50 per month per customer for the next three years) especially outrageous is that the big utilities collected maintenance money from their customers every month between 1955 and 2005, a total of about $65 billion over 50 years.


        Most of that money was never used for maintenance. Rather, it went to executive bonuses, salary increases and other goodies until the PUC finally stopped the practice.


        But none of the state’s three large private electric companies was ever fined for misuse of this money, nor were any executives punished, or any funds repaid.


        Meanwhile, vegetation near power lines grew nearly unchecked for decades, trees began encroaching on those same lines and both gas pipes and power lines deteriorated, mostly without being replaced or repaired. Bingo: major fires and a huge explosion resulted.


        That was one reason PG&E was convicted of criminal negligence after its massive 30-inch-wide gas pipeline beneath the suburb of San Bruno exploded, causing multiple deaths and extensive damage. Negligence was also likely one reason for the unprecented, almost four-month natural gas leak from Southern California Gas Co.’s Aliso Canyon storage facility just above the Porter Ranch subdivision in the San Fernando Valley section of Los Angeles in 2015 and 2016. Not to mention the 2018 incineration of Paradise and dozens of its people.


        No executive has ever been criminally punished for misuse of the maintenance money, despite these consequences and many more.


        Even now, utility company maintenance is demonstrably inadequate. For example, an independent safety monitor overseeing recent PG&E anti-wildfire work found the company during one recent three-month period missed issues like damaged poles in about 30 percent of all inspections.


        For sure, this type of history and performance demonstrates that utility companies, their executives and shareholders – not customers who have no voice in corporate policy – should pay for current maintenance work and repairs.


        Yet, the PUC, long a utility company lapdog, appears likely to give the consumer subsidy at least temporary approval this winter, with refunds possible if a more thorough consideration set to follow should cause the charge to be disapproved.


        That’s a procedure playing into PG&E’s hands. For once it has money in hand, it’s very rare for customers to get it back.


        Far better would be for the commission instead to have PG&E use some of the maintenance money it collected over those previous decades. And if some statute of limitations on punishment for earlier misuse of funds has expired (the PUC’s code requires only “prompt” hearings on suspected wrongdoing), then the PUC ought at least to force PG&E to advance whatever money is needed for the anti-wildfire work while it considers whether to reduce or fully disapprove the subsidy PG&E now seeks.


        But this would require the commission to give consumers equal treatment with the big corporations it supervises. And that would be almost unprecedented.


    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


Friday, December 23, 2022






        “Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.”

                --Samuel Coleridge, 1798, in “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”


        It has taken an unprecedented series of multi-year droughts, conversion of thousands of California lawns to water-sparing cacti and other plants and stricter than ever water rationing in many parts of the state, but at last it’s beginning to look like Samuel Coleridge’s sailor may have been premature.


        For there’s plenty of Pacific Ocean water being drunk in California today, with every indication suggesting there will be much more to come.


        No, California will likely never be like Israel, drawing 90 percent of its drinking water from desalinized sea water. But eventually, it’s now probable that such purified brine will eventually make up something more than 10 percent of the state’s supply.


        This looks like a simple necessity. For as the state insists on more and more dense residential construction and as snowpacks in the Sierra Nevada become thinner over the decades, this state will have to brace for spending big money to provide water for its populace of about 40 million.


Yes, that population was down a little over the last two years, as some folks migrated to other states and fewer of the foreign born came here during the worst COVID-19 pandemic years. But these look like minor and probably temporary phenomena compared with the full scope of urban California.


        No one has seen any notable declines in either traffic jams or crowds in pedestrian-only areas in spite of the state’s loss this year of one seat in Congress.


        Plus, the rest of California has seen that San Diego County, with the Poseidon Water desalination facility at Carlsbad producing all-out during the drought, was better off water-wise than many parts of the state.


        That came at a price, of course. The Poseidon plant, making about 48,000 acre feet of purified water yearly, more than 1.5 billion gallons, accounted for almost 10 percent of San Diego County’s water at a price of about $2,750 per acre foot.


        At one time, the price tag seemed to make the cost of desalination prohibitive elsewhere in the state. At the time the Carlsbad plant was finished, supplies from the state Water Project were being sold to some agencies for about $700 per acre foot. Desalinated water thus cost about four times as much as aqueduct supplies.


        But the state’s aqueducts and the reservoirs they once filled have run at depleted levels the last two years. And the cost differences of various types of water are beginning to narrow. Drought has caused the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the state’s largest water wholesaler, to sell treated supplies for about $1,200 per acre foot over the last year, still not close to the cost of desalinated water, but much closer than it was only about six years ago.


        Plus, much desalinated water from the state’s other purifying plants now sells for less than Poseidon’s supplies – more in the neighborhood of $2,000 per acre foot.


        That’s one reason the state Coastal Commission last year approved building a new desalination plant near Doheny State Beach, close to Orange County’s Dana Point. This facility would produce about 5 million gallons daily, significantly less than the Carlsbad plant, but still a boost for local supplies and a kind of insurance policy.


        As technology improves, allowing desalination to kill fewer marine animals and organisms, while also producing less brine, more plants will be approved. Especially if drought persists and provides political pressure for greenlighting projects.


        New technology also includes experiments with widely-spaced desalination buoys to decentralize the process so no ocean areas are overloaded with either organic demises or thick brine.


        As usual, necessity has become the mother of invention: To survive, California must have more desalination plants if both drought and population levels persist.


        For sure, the political imperative is there: A July survey by the Public Policy Institute of California found three-quarters of likely voters believe drought is a big problem.


        Expensive as it may be, that cannot help but thrust desalination to the fore as a big part of the solution.

Elias is author of the current book “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government's Campaign to Squelch It,” now available in an updated third edition. His email address is







        All over California last fall, hundreds of the civic minded spent thousands of hours and millions of dollars running for posts on city councils and county boards.


        Some of them may now be wondering why they bothered. For over the last three years, state government has gradually usurped almost full jurisdiction over one of the key powers always previously held by locally elected officials: The ability to decide what their city or county will look like and feel like over the next few decades.


        That’s done via land use decisions which control how many housing units and commercial sites can be built up in a given time.


        Via a series of laws mandating new levels of density everywhere in the state, whether or not they are needed and justified, this key local power now belongs to largely anonymous state officials who know little or nothing about most places whose future they are deciding.


        It’s being done through the elimination of single-family, or R-1, zoning. It’s being done via the new requirement that the state Department of Housing and Community Development approve housing elements for every locality. If HCD does not approve such a plan for a city, developers can target it with virtually no limits, if they choose.


        It’s all based on a supposed need for at least 1.8 million new housing units touted by HCD. This, despite the fact that the state auditor last spring found that HCD did not properly vet the documents and other instruments on which that estimate was based.


        What’s more, only three years earlier, HCD was claiming more than 3.5 million new units were needed. Less than one-eighth that many have risen, yet HCD has cut its need estimate considerably.


        And yet… cities and counties must do what they’re told by this demonstrably incompetent agency, or risk lawsuits and big losses in state grants for everything from sewers and road maintenance to police and fire departments. State Attorney General Rob Bonta even set up a new unit in his Justice Department to threaten and pursue noncompliant cities.


        This leads localities to approve developments in ways they never did before, including some administrative approvals without so much as the possibility of a public hearing.


        It leads to the absurd, as with Atherton trying to get state approval of a plan forcing almost all local homeowners to create “additional dwelling units” on the one-acre lots long required in the city. That’s instead of building almost 400 townhouses or apartments in a town of barely 7,000 persons.


        And in Santa Monica, because the city council did not get its housing element approved, developers can probably not be stopped as they make plans for at least 12 large new buildings. So much for bucolic seaside living.


        Santa Monica is also an example of a city buckling to state pressure to allow huge projects opposed by most of its citizens, a majority of whom are renters. That city has done nothing to stop or alter the largest development in its history, to be built on a property at a major intersection now occupied by a grocery and several other stores.


        Despite heavy community interest, evidenced by the more than 2,000 persons on a Zoom call about the project last winter, the city will hold no public hearings and does not respond to most written communications from its citizens about the development. All because it fears the state will sue if it objects.


        Several cities have begun to fight parts of today’s state domination of land use. Four Los Angeles County cities – Redondo Beach, Torrance, Carson and Whittier – are seeking a court order negating the 2021 Senate Bill 9, which allows single family homes to be replaced by as many as six units, with cities unable to nix any such project.


        As city councils and county boards see their constituents objecting loudly to much of this scene, it’s inevitable that other lawsuits will follow. No one can predict whether or not courts will find the state Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom have vastly overreached in their power grab, which is all for the sake of increased density and based on unfounded predictions by bureaucrats who answer to no one.




    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, December 19, 2022







        The rogue’s gallery of California legislators whose careers have been affected or ended by charges of sexual harassment over the last 10 years or so numbers at least seven.


        But as lawmakers return to Sacramento for the start of another year’s work, some of the males among them might be taking comfort in the probability that they won’t have to be quite as careful in their treatment of female staffers and colleagues as before.


        That’s because of a decision from Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Steven M. Gevercer, a Jerry Brown appointee, that forced disclosure of the names of witnesses who complained about Matt Dababneh, a former Democratic assemblyman from the western San Fernando Valley portion of Los Angeles.


        Lawyers for the Legislature fought the decision, but eventually turned over the names of 52 persons involved in the case against Dababneh, who resigned his seat in late 2017 after serving four years.


        Dababneh was accused in early December 2017 of sexually assaulting Pamela Lopez, a Sacramento lobbyist who alleged that Dababneh in 2016 pushed her into a Las Vegas hotel bathroom, masturbated in front of her and urged her to touch him. "I felt the weight of a body push me into the restroom," she said.


Dababneh denied the allegation and threatened to sue Lopez for defamation. His resignation came after an investigation by the Legislature. Now he has the names of everyone who came forward to speak about his allegedly frequent behavior.


        This might mean that present, former and future legislators subjected to #MeToo complaints can also get the names of anyone coming forward to speak about their supposed proclivities. That list includes Democrats like Tony Mendoza, Bob Hertzberg (accused only of hugging people), Autumn Burke, Raul Bocanegra, Steve Fox and Rod Wright, who was accused only of using “coarse and vulgar” language with employees, plus Republican Travis Allen, who vehemently denied any misbehavior.


        It also means witnesses may be less likely to come forward in the future, as legislative assurances of secrecy have now turned out not to be legally binding.


        One labor lawyer told a reporter that “To learn at the end of the day that the person you had the courage to come out and complain about is going to get a list of you and everybody else who provided statements, that is absolutely going to discourage people from coming forward.”


        It was already bad enough for women who believed they had been assaulted in one manner or another to have to come forward in a Legislature where some former leaders have been exposed as racist or sexist.


        One example is former state Senate President Kevin de Leon, exposed as anti-black and possibly anti-Semitic in an infamous recording that caused the resignations of Los Angeles City Council President Nuri Martinez and Ron Herrera, a former Teamsters Union leader and then president of the Los Angeles County Labor Federation. Both President Biden and Gov. Gavin Newsom called on de Leon also to resign the Los Angeles council seat in which he sought refuge after being termed out of the Legislature.


        The latest developments come after multiple former legislative staffers complained to the San Francisco Chronicle of steady mistreatment and foot-dragging by the Legislature in acting on their complaints, while also failing to keep their complaints confidential.


        Now there may be nothing much to keep those complaints private, as any newly accused legislators can not only expect to have names, but will most likely seek the chance to have their accusers questioned and cross-examined as they try to clear their own names.


        Most of the #MeToo complaints involving legislators come not from top-level lobbyists or policy advisers accustomed to speaking publicly, but rather from secretaries and other aides not specifically prepared for heavy questioning.


        The result, therefore, is that lawyers who expect fewer alleged victims of harassment or other mistreatment to come forward will probably prove correct.


        Which means lawmakers may now have a freer hand to misbehave and act out their sexual fantasies than they’ve have had in many years. All because of a single action by one local judge.




    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







        There is nothing most California convicts want more than to be released before their sentence is up, even before they have earned enough good-conduct credits to qualify for early release.


Across California’s prison system, many inmates are getting their wish, thanks to a steady program of early releases for prisoners whose offenses are legally deemed “non-violent,” even though that category can include things like human trafficking, rape of an unconscious person and domestic violence.


        This is not parole, which must be approved by appointive panels operating independently of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). This is arbitrary action aimed at emptying the prison system as much as Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration can get away with under the guise of reducing the risks of prisons becoming super-spreader sites for COVID-19.


        While it’s true that convicts are often kept at close quarters with one another, both in cells and on exercise yards, masking and vaccines usually can prevent major outbreaks of the dangerous virus.


        One lengthy investigation by CBS-TV concluded the early release process – conducted under emergency regulations – has been both dangerous and arbitrary, conducted entirely out of the public eye. It has even seen the release of prisoners who were denied parole for substantial cause. It’s unknown whether those rules will automatically expire if the public emergency Newsom declared in spring 2020 ends in February, as the governor has promised.


        As long as 18 months ago, 41 elected district attorneys from around the state filed a petition with CDCR asking for repeal of those regulations and the unpublicized releases.


        That was even before the release of convicted domestic abuser Smiley Martin, the main suspect in last April’s mass shooting in Sacramento, which killed six.


        Martin, authorities have said, was able to get out after serving just four years of a 10-year term despite a record of prison fights with other convicts because his original offense was legally considered non-violent, allowing him to earn good-conduct credits faster than formally violent criminals.


        Riverside County D.A. Mike Hestrin, one of the signers of the district attorneys’ petition, wrote that “Releasing dangerous and violent felons into our communities by reducing their sentences by as much as 50 percent puts the public in danger… Victims and their families deserve to be heard on how the (emergency) regulations might affect them and public safety in general.”


        But the D.A.s never filed a formal court petition. They have now asked CDCR to explain how it decides which prisoners to release early -- “especially those who have not engaged in rehabilitation programs… This needs to stop now. This is not reform. It is an anti-transparent experiment that is gambling with public safety.”


        Added Yolo County D.A. Jeff Reisig, “The public has a right to know what these people are doing to rehabilitate themselves.”


        Meanwhile, legislators bent on cutting down the prison population and possibly closing some of the state’s most remote penitentiaries also passed a law in 2019 allowing early release of many inmates who committed felonies while juveniles, but were convicted as adults.


        The D.A.s always objected to that law, known as SB 1391, saying it could free hundreds of dangerous prisoners. One they sometimes cite is Adrian Gonzalez of Santa Cruz, convicted on the basis of video evidence of raping and killing an 8-year-old neighbor girl and dumping her body in a trash bag. Because he was aged 15 years, 8 months at the time of his crime, he will be released in 2024, just nine years after the rape/murder. If he had been tried as an adult, he could have gotten a 100-year sentence.


        Considering how much national Republicans used fear of crime in the November 2022 election, the Democrats who control Sacramento might want to revisit SB 1391, whose toll in repeat crimes is sure to rise in coming years as more onetime juvenile felons are released.


        For Democrats might just want to assure their continued domination of California politics by doing something to prevent Republicans from making crime a major future issue here, as they have elsewhere.


    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, December 12, 2022






        Ever since ex-President Donald Trump placed three conservative justices there, the U.S. Supreme Court has seemed to many like an extension of the extreme right wing of the national Republican Party.


        Now, after an early December court hearing on a lawsuit aiming to give state legislatures – and only the legislatures – power over almost every aspect of how federal elections are conducted, there suddenly arises the possibility of a major backfire from any such decision by America’s highest court.


        The reason for this potential backfire resides most prominently here in California. This state is so large and leans so strongly Democratic that if legislators here reverse some longstanding state election policies, they could cause big changes nationally.


        Especially if some potential California actions were imitated in other large-population blue states like Illinois and New York and Oregon and Washington.


        Here’s are the stakes in the Supreme Court case brought by North Carolina Republican legislators: State legislatures could be authorized to draw future legislative and congressional district boundaries any way they like, with no say for either governors or state courts. The North Carolina GOP sued because that state’s Supreme Court wouldn’t let them get away with patently partisan district maps guaranteed to perpetuate big Republican majorities in its legislature and congressional delegation.


        If the Supreme Court, as some justices have indicated it might, awards such ultimately extreme powers to state legislatures, it could also be permitting state lawmakers to substitute presidential Electoral College members of their preference for those elected by voters. This would be a prescription for election irrelevance, and would make voter suppression laws of the recent past look like mild, amateur tactics.


        Essentially, it would let state Legislatures and not the voters of any or all states make the most important civic decisions virtually unchecked.


        Except…California legislators would have it in their power to reverse much of what multiple other states might do. They could create a whole new kind of check and balance for the court and those other legislatures to consider.


        In a way, California voters created today’s small Republican majority in the House of Representatives when they used ballot propositions to set up independent redistricting commissions for legislative and congressional districts here.


        The new GOP majority exists only because California elected 40 Democrats and 12 Republicans to the House in November, using district lines drawn by the independent commission, which had equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats.


        But if the Supreme Court says legislatures – and not voters – have ultimate power over redistricting, state lawmakers here could overturn the independent commission’s district lines anytime they like. With Democrats holding two-thirds-plus majorities in both houses of this state’s Legislature, they could draw any lines they wished, should the Supreme Court find for  the North Carolina Republicans.


        Does anyone seriously think a Democratic-drawn plan here would have enabled narrow victories for Republican representatives like John Duarte, Michelle Steel, Mike Garcia, David Valadao, Kevin Kiley or Young Kim, without whom there is no GOP majority? Does anyone seriously think a Democratic-drawn plan would have set up Orange County Democrat Katie Porter for several nail-biting post-election weeks?


        There’s not a chance of that. Nor would there be any chance for Republicans, as they just did, to take away a formerly Democratic seat in Oregon and maintain all its seats in Washington state. The same in Illinois and New York, scene of a major Republican upset.


        So there is plenty of room for backfire if the Supreme Court goes extreme in granting state legislators almost unchecked power.


        And what if the high court gave Republican-led legislatures in states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania authority to substitute presidential electors different from those chosen by voters, and those legislatures then actually did that and reversed a national election outcome?


        Does the Supreme Court seriously believe only extremist far-right activists are capable of reacting with an insurrection? If so, they’ve forgotten the almost anonymous leftists of Antifa, who in 2020 and 2021 rioted and took over parts of cities like Portland and Seattle.


        So here’s a cautionary word to the conservative Supreme Court majority: If you open Pandora’s Box and sow the wind by changing America’s traditional political and electoral checks and balances, you could live to reap whatever whirlwind might follow.



    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit







Unless something serious happens soon to five-term Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the politics of 2023 in California shapes up as a time of careful positioning by a horde of fellow Democrats angling for the 89-year-old Feinstein’s job.


If he likes, Gov. Gavin Newsom can control this scene. He has reportedly told President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris he will not run against either in 2024.


That makes Newsom seem prepared for at least five years of waiting, something he did very well while serving as lieutenant governor for the eight years of Jerry Brown’s final two terms as governor.


Being the state’s nominal No. 2 gave Newsom some visibility while he awaited Brown’s departure, after which he easily whipped all rivals in both major parties when he finally got to run for Brown’s office.


        But what happens next for Newsom if he doesn’t run for president in 2024, as he’s apparently promised the two most likely Democratic candidates for this country’s top political job?


        Whether Biden or Harris or a Republican like ex-

President Donald Trump or Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

wins the presidency next time out, Newsom could face

serious down time, especially while termed out as

governor from 2026 through early 2028, thus losing

the political limelight – unless he goes after Feinstein’s

Senate seat.


        With all his likely 2028 Democratic presidential rivals already

holding offices of their own, Newsom would need a

constant spotlight to remain a leading candidate while

out of office.


     This is something Mike Pence, Trump’s vice president

for four years, faces right now, along with former Secretary

of State Mike Pompeo and other Republicans who plainly

want to be president, but for now are settling for writing

books and hoping Trump and DeSantis somehow self

destruct before 2024.


For sure, Trump has the potential to wreck himself. He

lately has possessed something like political Velcro, rather than Teflon, as just about everything sticks to him.


But Biden appears unlikely to self-immolate. His

gaffes are invariably forgiven by media and voters, possibly because of a lifelong history of malaprops.


        So Newsom will have to decide, if he really sits out

2024, what he’ll do to set himself up as the Democratic

frontrunner for 2028, his seeming target year.


Yes, he could write a book, but it probably could only

be about his California experiences, since unlike Pence and Pompeo, he’s never held high federal office.


This could make a Senate run the answer for Newsom. If he chooses that, he can expect plenty of competition in his own party. Start with Burbank Congressman Adam Schiff, who became prominent while ramrodding both impeachments of Trump. Republican leaders in Congress now are helping keep a spotlight on Schiff even as he moves into the minority, intending to take away his seat on the House Intelligence Committee.


        Schiff has major senatorial support among California Democrats, but has never run statewide. So there’s room for other contenders like Xavier Becerra, the current secretary of Health and Human Services who twice won election as California’s attorney general after a long career in Congress.


        Orange County Congresswoman Katie Porter, who barely won reelection last fall in a redrawn district, might figure she has a better shot at the Senate than winning reelection repeatedly in her now-largely-Republican part of the OC.


        There’s also Shirley Weber, to whom Newsom tossed the bone of the secretary of state’s office in 2021, when he named Alex Padilla to the Senate seat Harris once held. Weber and some other black women were offended when the Harris seat did not go to another black woman, and she might seek to remedy that with her own run for Feinstein’s spot. There are also San Francisco Bay area Reps. Barbara Lee and Ro Khanna, both with longtime delusions of grandeur.


And there are mayors like Eric Garcetti, for 10 years the top official in Los Angeles, and London Breed of San Francisco.


        It’s doubtful any of the others can best Newsom in a primary election, no matter what they now think. Which means in next year’s tussle, the governor can call most of the shots – if he chooses.

    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, December 5, 2022






        Millions of Americans have quit their jobs each month over the last year and a half – essentially ever since vaccines reduced the frequency and intensity of bouts with most variants of COVID-19.


        At the same time, some California cities emptied at generationally high rates, with San Francisco the best example, losing more than 6 percent of its populace to the new white collar reality of working at home, with location almost completely irrelevant.


        Workers can be in Montenegro as easily as Montebello, and hardly anyone will know the difference.


        This creates unprecedented worker mobility all over the country, as huge numbers take months or years off and survive on savings or fortunes accumulated via stock options over the last 15 years.


        It also causes many of the “help wanted” signs appearing in the windows of myriad workplaces, from post offices to Starbucks, small bakeries, customer service telephone centers and restaurants. It means shorter menus, too, as cooks and chefs are hard to find. It’s also a time of finding your own merchandise at big box stores, helpful salespeople now scarcer than ever. Radio ads even offered $3,000 signing bonuses to new bus drivers in Los Angeles, treatment normally reserved for individuals with specialized abilities and training.


        Since California leads the nation in almost every social and economic trend, good or bad, the expectation might be that more folks are resigning their jobs here than anywhere else. That presumption would be dead wrong.


        New findings from the WalletHub website, which tracks a variety of economic trends, show California ranks as the No. 38 state in resignations. Just 2.53 percent of workers here have quit their jobs over the last year, the website found.


        Florida, whose governor continually compares his state to California, ranked fourth in resignations, as almost twice as high a proportion of its populace quit. Texas was 28th, while Alaska led the great resignation, with a 4.7 percent annualized rate of departures. Maybe it’s the cold, dark winters and physical isolation that comes with living in most parts of that physically huge state.


        Why is California faring better than the vast majority of other states in this societal upheaval?


        It may be the long experience of the tech industry with gig workers, who for many years have moved around frequently while hunting for ever greener pastures.


Where in most states there is a large pay gap between job shifters and long-term workers, that is much less common in California. Nationally, says the Cantabria economic blog, the average pay differential is 7 percent, with – for example – the median salary for established software development managers at $131,000, while new hires in the same job get a median pay of $143,000 regardless of age or experience.


        To avoid that differential, which can spur resentful longtime employees to search for new jobs, companies must constantly grant raises and bonuses to existing workers so newcomers don’t outpace their pay. If those firms then hit unexpected hard times, it can lead to layoffs, which lately have hit companies like Meta and Salesforce.


        The almost constant upward momentum all this created over the last 20 months is one reason U.S. wages overall rose 4.7 percent in that time.


        Many California companies are long accustomed to these phenomena, which created massive new wealth for youthful high tech workers at companies like Google and Apple and Hulu. Most Silicon Valley companies see to it that longer-term employees are at least as well off as new hires. Failure to do that would lead to shuffles and a much higher California resignation rate.


        Women, too, are using the great resignation to eliminate much of the longtime pay gap between themselves and men. CNBC reports 85 percent of women workers believe they deserve pay increases and 65 percent think the resignation wave gives them more leverage to get them.


        Of the 47 million Americans who quit jobs in 2021, most of those responding to surveys cited better pay and benefits as reasons. It’s still unknown if women actually reduced the pre-existing 18 percent pay gap between them and white males in similar jobs.


        All this may be inconvenient for businesses, but it’s also providing bonanzas for many thousands of workers.



    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