Monday, September 25, 2023






Gov. Gavin Newsom is a big advocate of science, the concept, not the magazine. He’s often said science was behind his many controversial moves to counter COVID-19 and he’s using science in the state’s effort to mitigate future wildfires, for just two examples.


But when confronted with the strong possibility that science might argue against his years-long push for more housing density, signing bill after bill to further that cause over the last five years, he ignored scientific findings.


As far back as 2019, fully four years ago, Newsom was presented evidence from Science (the peer-reviewed magazine of the American Association for the Advancement of, yes, Science) that the denser housing becomes, the greater the frequency of strokes among residents of that housing.


Ironically, one argument presented by Newsom and

San Francisco’s Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener, chief legislative backer of the big push for ever-denser housing, was that it would lead to a healthier California.


Said Wiener back then, via an email, “Housing density…facilitates active transportation, such as walking and biking. People are much healthier when they regularly walk, as opposed to having a sedentary lifestyle and spending hours every day in a car.”


Those comments came after publication in Science of a study from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, which found that “higher residential-surrounding greenspace is related with fewer and less severe strokes. Living in high noise areas…can lead to more severe strokes.”


Newsom was furnished this study in 2019 and failed

to comment on it then, or since then.


Meanwhile, bills he’s signed have led to a high-rise housing construction boom and more noise in many parts of California. He and his supporters in the Legislature each year since 2018 passed new laws making building permits for dense housing easier and easier to get. Easiest of all are the “builders’ remedy” structures going up in cities from Santa Monica to San Jose, where housing plans weren’t approved by state authorities prior to arbitrary deadlines.


One consequence has been overbuilding, as evidenced by high vacancy rates in new buildings and ubiquitous signage advertising this fact. Some new buildings sport rooftop gardens, parks and playgrounds. But not most.


There is no proven cause-and-effect link, but the

number of strokes in California has risen steadily since the building boom began in late 2018, a period in which the state’s population has dropped yearly.


        Here’s the latest tally from the National Center for Health Statistics: In 2018, 16,457 Californians suffered strokes. A year later, there were 16,851. In 2020, there were 17,916 and by 2021, the last year for which numbers are available, the figure had jumped to 18,304. That’s an 11.2 percent increase in strokes during a time when population dropped and new dense housing construction expanded vastly.


        There are no statistics available on whether these strokes were more severe as the years progressed. This also may involve mere correlation, not causality. But the fact is that denser housing here has coincided with more strokes.


        So the figures suggest Wiener may have been wrong about dense living being healthier than life surrounded by green space. So much for his years-long effort to decimate or eliminate single-family housing in this state, which was largely built on the concept of urban sprawl.


        And yet, the authors of the Barcelona study insist they have nothing against high-rise living. Payam Dadvand MD, co-author of the stroke study, said that “Denser cities have both pros and cons. It very much depends on how they are designed and planned.”


        But nothing in any of the new state laws requires new parks or other green space around new high-rises. Not even a parking space for each unit. So greenery is rare on or near the new California buildings, despite Wiener saying “Urban density should include significant green space and noise abatement.”


        The bottom line: Newsom used science when it promoted his anti-Covid tactics. But he’s ignored science so far as it appears to conflict with his housing policies.


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








        Gov. Gavin Newsom and other Democrats in Sacramento are working steadily these days to close several California prisons, perhaps as many as six.


        The stated benefits include saving money and doing something to address mass incarceration of Blacks and other minorities, which is partly the result of the much-maligned federal and state “war on drugs.”


        But despite support from the elected chief prosecutors in several of the most populous California counties, there are dangers.


        Take some provisions of a bill that came within a hair of becoming law this fall, one that would allow most convicts, including murderers and rapists, to petition for re-sentencing and eventual parole if they can show “mitigating circumstances” drove them to their crimes, no matter how heinous.


        This measure, known as SB 94, will surely be back for another try next year with a different number. It does not specifically call for prison closings, but if it becomes law, could significantly reduce the population in high-security prisons and justify one or more prison closings.


        The proposal is also considered likely to be amended to include virtually all inmates currently under death sentences or serving terms without possibility of parole. The 2023 version exempted anyone who murdered three or more persons.


        No doubt, some of those involved have reformed, at least to some degree. Others have grown older and feebler. But some remain threatening, regardless of the findings of parole boards.


        One example cited by the City Journal, published by the conservative Manhattan Institute, is Timothy Chavira, convicted in 1986 of beating and stabbing to death his stepmother. For this, he received a sentence of 26        years to life. He was released from prison in 2017, but returned there three years later after stabbing a retired woman doctor in El Sereno, an area of Los Angeles.


        Now he has a new sentence of life without possibility of parole – unless SB 94 or its likely heir should pass.


        No one knows how many Timothy Chaviras now reside in California prisons, where they can harm no one but their themselves or fellow inmates until and unless they are released. In fact, some are already wreaking havoc on other prisoners, as inmate-on-inmate murders and beatings have reportedly increased this year.


        This did not deter supporters of SB 94, who got the bill through the state Senate and its ironically named Public Safety Committee before it was suspended for now by state Assembly leaders.


        Sponsored by Democratic Sens. Scott Wiener of San Francisco and Corey Jackson of Riverside, among others, it is certain to reappear later this year or next.


        That’s especially likely since the measure has been supported by state Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta and the ultra-liberal district attorneys of Los Angeles and Alameda counties, George Gascon and Pamela Price.


        Essentially, they all back early releases for many of the worst of the worst among California convicts.


        Gascon and Price were elected on promises to go easier on serious criminals, including omitting some earlier felony “strikes” against them as sentencing factors and enforcing no-cash-bail policies wherever possible, despite the fact California voters by a large margin in 2020 passed a referendum canceling a law that sought to eliminate cash bail statewide.


        Prisoners who would be eligible for parole and/or reduced sentences under SB 94 or its presumed successor could also see any special circumstances (like use of a firearm in their crime) disregarded.


        Politicians like Wiener, who knows he will never face a serious reelection challenge because his district is so heavily Democratic, have not been dissuaded by seeing this bill placed in suspension.


        That’s in keeping with the pattern he followed in pushing over several years for housing density measures like SB 9 and SB 10, which essentially ended single-family zoning throughout California. His bills were suspended multiple times, but eventually passed and became laws when Newsom signed them.


        So long as Newsom remains hell-bent on reducing prison populations to save money, SB 94 and its like will never die, but always return until a soft-on-crime Legislature eventually passes it, as happened with no-cash-bail.




    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







        Two things you can count on when it comes to ballyhooed state forecasts on things like California’s housing and population: They’ll be incompetent and inconsistent. Usually, they will also be outdated even before they’re issued.


        For years, this state has plagued its cities and counties with inaccurate, vastly varying predictions of housing need. In 2018, the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) predicted California would need to build 3.5 million new housing units by 2025.


        Four years of unpredicted population loss followed. HCD never listed this as a reason, but by 2021, it was saying the need had dropped to 1.8 million living spaces. This year, despite more net out-migration from the Golden State, the projected housing need was back up again, this time to 2.5 million.


        The state offered no explanation for its inconsistency, apparently expecting no one to remember the previous estimates, none of which developers came anywhere near fulfilling.


        Now it’s the turn of the population forecasters in the state’s Department of Finance. Ten years ago, they predicted tremendous California growth, apparently not noticing that most cities were already pretty well built out, and that massive population growth would either have to land in huge new swaths of urban sprawl or spur tearing down and rebuilding in existing neighborhoods to make them far more dense.


        There’s been no population growth, but policymakers in the Legislature have nevertheless chosen to pursue density, virtually all their new housing laws aiming to encourage more crowded living conditions and assuming that those in the new buildings will own few cars and use mass transit. Of course, mass transit usership has not risen notably even as new construction arose near light rail stops. So much for that forecast.


        Where the Finance department in 2013 predicted California would have 52.7 million residents by 2060, it now figures the number will be 39.51 million, just about the same as today.


        But wait: This forecast turns out not worth the many sheets of paper on which it was printed. For lo and behold, there’s now large-scale buyers’ remorse among California emigres in places like Austin and Dallas, Texas; Tucson and Glendale, Ariz., and several parts of Florida.



        Californians moved to those places in droves immediately before and during the Coronavirus pandemic.


        Charmed at first by Austin, where many high tech workers moved when the virus freed them from working in offices, they’re now finding it difficult to move easily from gig to gig as they could in places like Silicon Valley and the Irvine area of Orange County.


        That’s because while there’s a fair amount of technology innovation in Austin, the California technology hubs remain dominant in their industry, providing far more options for switching jobs without risking long-term unemployment.


        Some emigres also complain about the central Texas weather, featuring many more 100-degree summer days and far colder winters than they experienced in California.


        But once you sell a California home and turn your equity into a larger Texas manse, it can be difficult to move back without a major drop in standard of living. So there’s less potential mobility for emigres who left their previous options behind.


        And soone recent survey of Austin newcomers saw many yearning to return to California. It’s much the same in cities like Orlando, Fla., and Tucson, both of which attracted many Californians with lower priced, more sumptuous housing than they could afford in coastal parts of California.


        There’s suddenly a strong possibility many of the recent California emigres will move back, even if means enduring a somewhat lower standard of living for a while.


        But the reports indicating this likelihood came after release of the California Finance department forecast. So the state forecast was probably outmoded before it was printed.


        California growth likely will rebound, but probably not soon to levels seen from 1950 to 2010. That’s partly because this state has become denser than before and thus less attractive to many folks who seek green surroundings.


        All of which should reassure property owners who would love to get rid of the many vacancy signs on new apartment buildings coming online every week in California, and demonstrates the error of assuming that today’s trends will continue indefinitely.



    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







        It would have taken a rare combination of courage and toughness to solve California’s three-month property insurance crisis fairly.


        Neither quality was displayed by either Gov. Gavin Newsom or Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, and so blackmailing insurance companies won big against ordinary Californians for the second time in 27 years.


        How craven were these two officials? First, on a cool day in late September, Newsom issued a uniquely unspecific executive order essentially telling Lara to do something, almost anything, about the crisis spawned by the insurance industry, whose biggest companies had stopped writing new property policies anywhere in California for the preceding three months, claiming huge wildfire losses.


        Lara’s response was to capitulate to the companies, including State Farm, Allstate, USAA, Farmers and more. Exactly one week after the Legislature refused to give them carte blanche in setting new rates, Lara effectively did just that.


        Several leading insurers now have rate increase applications pending before Lara’s department for price hikes averaging about 34 percent starting sometime next year. Under a deal Lara struck mere hours after Newsom’s flailing order, they will almost certainly get the bulk of those increases. In return, all they must do is issue or restore homeowner policies in wildfire prone areas, charging pretty much whatever they want in the process.


        Property owners elsewhere might also see their rates increase to help subsidize the companies and thus keep them in the California market. For the first time, the industry will now use projections of future fire losses to justify rate increases, rather than only past performance, and never mind if their profit-motivated predictions never come to pass.


        All this, the companies say, because they’ve had big losses in California since wildfires became larger and more common starting in 2017.


        But how much have they really lost? Over the last two decades, these companies made far higher profits in California than nationally, even more if you include the $12.1 billion that utility companies were forced to pay them to refund insurance payouts after fires caused by the electricity providers.


        Between 1997 and 2021, insurance companies enjoyed an 8.8 percent return on spending in California, compared with 6.2 percent nationally, according to figures reported by the Consumer Watchdog advocacy group and not disputed by the industry. Add in the big money from the utilities, and profits here were even higher.


        Consumer Watchdog founder Harvey Rosenfield, author of the 1988 Proposition 103, which made the insurance commissioner elective and mandates setting rates based on past expenses, says his outfit – which often intervenes in insurance rate cases – will not meekly accept Lara’s capitulation to the insurance companies.


        “Insurance companies used their economic power to create shortages (and) pressure elected officials to change the (Proposition 103) rules that have kept insurance in California stable, affordable and available for decades,” Rosenfield said. “Consumer Watchdog will not allow Lara to derail the rights of consumers.” Translation: “We’ll see you in court, Mr. Lara.”


The fair way to end the insurance boycott would have been to tell the companies if they’re not going to sell all kinds of insurance here, they can’t sell any. Firms that boycott should lose their licenses to sell any new insurance here for several years, including extremely profitable coverage like life insurance.


But Lara took well over $100,000 in campaign dollars from the industry he regulates, despite earlier promises not to accept any insurance company donations. When the donations were revealed, Lara was forced to return most of the money.


Still, the industry’s apparent influence over him was clear in the deal he made. Lara acted much like 1990s-era Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush, who also accepted insurance company donations and then gave in to the industry’s previous boycott of California over a requirement that anyone selling homeowner coverage also had to sell earthquake insurance.


Quackenbush orchestrated a deal eliminating that rule and forming the California Earthquake Authority to replace policies long carried by the industry. In both that case and this fall’s, California was blackmailed and elected commissioners who had taken insurance company dollars capitulated.


That’s not how government is supposed to work, but it is reality when leaders lack the courage and toughness to fight off obvious extortion.



    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, September 18, 2023








        Gov. Gavin Newsom pledged after appointing former California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to the Senate in 2021 that he would name a Black woman to the job if the seat long held by Democrat Dianne Feinstein became vacant on his watch.


        Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee of Oakland took that to mean her, plainly figuring she is entitled to that seat, chiefly because the slot Padilla got and later won on his own had been occupied previously by current Vice President Kamala Harris, the Senate’s only Black woman before she moved up.


        But the 90-year-old Feinstein has served almost three years beyond the date of Padilla’s appointment, persisting through a serious and painful case of shingles, some alleged dementia and other ailments, while getting around mostly via wheelchairs. Meanwhile, the 77-year-old Lee and much younger fellow Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff of Burbank and Katie Porter of Irvine are embroiled in a tight and spirited race to replace Feinstein, who insists she will serve out her full term until it ends in December 2024.


Fully aware of this, Newsom makes it clear that if Feinstein can’t persist, he will indeed appoint a Black woman to the job, but not one who is running for a full six-year term. Instead, he says he’ll name a temp.


So, no, Barbara Lee will not get to list herself as a

sitting senator on California primary election ballots next March.


        This infuriates her. Lee doesn’t quite admit to that much emotion, but said she is “troubled by the governor’s remarks” in announcing he would appoint a temporary senator if anything should happen to Feinstein.


        Lee added that “The idea that a Black woman should be appointed only as a caretaker is insulting to countless Black women across this country who have carried the Democratic Party to victory, election after election. If the governor intends to keep his promise and appoint a Black woman to the Senate, the people of California deserve the best possible person for that job…We need a seat at that table.”


        In other words, she’s essentially saying, “Appoint me (if there’s an opening) or risk losing your party’s most reliable voting bloc.”


        Newsom, to his credit, refuses so far to be bullied, sticking with his commitments both to appoint a caretaker and a Black female.


        He essentially ignored Lee’s fury and her implicit threat and stuck with both promises he’s now made, all the while insisting he hopes Feinstein serves out her term.


        One thing that’s clear from all this is that Newsom reads the polls. They show Schiff, Porter and Lee all running well ahead of several potential and declared Republican candidates, making a Democrat-on-Democrat runoff election next fall very likely.


        Newsom, hoping to remain a major figure in his party long after his second statehouse term expires in 2026, plainly does not want to alienate backers of Schiff and Porter by awarding the seat to Lee during the leadup to the March primary election.


        He knows that any incumbent, even one who’s served only a month or two, gains credibility and an automatic advantage over electoral rivals.


        And Lee, running a fairly distant third in every poll, needs any advantage she can get, one key – but unspoken – reason for her displeasure at Newsom’s latest promise.


        But Newsom didn’t worry about that. Nor did he say whether he agrees with Lee that she is the “best possible person for the job.”


        Instead, he completely avoided comment on the current candidates, saying only that “We have multiple names in mind.”


        His comment also served his own political purposes, inserting him into the Senate race without having either to endorse or directly alienate anyone.


        This preserves his position as a national party leader without committing himself to any particular appointee. Newsom thus manages to please almost everyone but Lee and her most ardent supporters.


        Plus, he’s right. With only a few months before the primary, and no wish to endorse any of the leading candidates, why should he elevate one hopeful at the expense of the others?


        The answer is that he should not, and he was both correct and adroit in managing to avoid promising to do so.



    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






        It’s up to Gov. Gavin Newsom, but if he signs a last- minute bill just passed by the state Legislature, California will be sending conflicting messages to big oil companies about lying and gasoline price gouging.


        That’s because of two moves in Sacramento on consecutive days as the 2023 legislative session ended in mid-September.


        In one, state Attorney General Rob Bonta, who badly wants to succeed Newsom as governor, noisily filed a biggest-in-the-nation lawsuit accusing Big Oil of lying for more than half a century about the environmental danger of fossil fuels.


        In the other, the Legislature with zero fanfare and no public hearings passed a bill designed to make it harder for the state to act on its new law that supposedly aims to stop the oil companies from artificially and deliberately staging events that raise the pump price of gasoline.


        “California is delivering on our promise to hold Big Oil accountable (for price gouging),” Newsom said in June when he signed that new law.


        But if he also signs the just-passed bill numbered SB 842, sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Steven Bradford of southwestern Los Angeles County, home to several large oil refineries, he will be reneging on that promise.


        Bradford employed the Legislature’s often-abused last-minute gut-and-amend procedure to revive an unrelated, moribund bill and substitute in it language that would hamstring the state’s ability to prevent the unneeded, unscheduled refinery “maintenance” shutdowns that oil companies often use as excuses for sudden, large pump price increases.


        Most recently, such shutdowns were their excuse last February, when prices rose by more than $2 a gallon almost overnight in a move that produced record oil company profits, but was described by Newsom as “fleecing California families.”


        The June law has a new wing of the state Energy Commission forcing oil companies to report maintenance shutdowns in advance.


        The current bill now on Newsom's desk softens that by saying the agency must “consult with labor and industry stakeholders and aim to avoid any adverse impacts to the safety of employees and surrounding communities, labor and equipment availability, other market impacts, and cost.”


        That would make fast action against sudden gas price spikes almost impossible, especially since there is no list

of “stakeholders” to consult. Essentially, this sneak-attack bill would disable the state’s power to help consumers quickly. Again, there were no public hearings and thus no evidence anyone has been endangered by the June law or that the newer measure is needed. If Newsom signs it, he would counteract the aims he declared in June.


        Even as this legislative effort at cozying up to Big Oil proceeded, Bonta was readying his lawsuit against Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron, Conoco Phillips and British Petroleum.


        One difference is that the legislative effort proceeded essentially in secret, while Bonta’s ballyhooed lawsuit made headlines. But it’s obvious grandstanding.


        If the lawsuit really goes forward, it will be years before oil companies pay any penalty for what Bonta says is lying since the 1950s about the fact that “burning fossil fuels leads to climate change.” This lawsuit will cost the companies little to defend, since they routinely maintain platoons of lawyers. It’s also a transparent move to help set up Bonta’s run for governor, likely to begin in early 2025.


        So the so-called “progressive” Democrats who currently run Sacramento spoke from both sides of their mouths, accusing the oil companies of lying on climate change while simultaneously attempting to ease their longtime practice of lying about price gouging.


        Said Jamie Court, president of the Consumer Watchdog advocacy group, “With gasoline prices spiking in California right now, this is no time to weaken a price gouging law that has barely taken effect.” He added that Newsom should veto “this attack on his gasoline price gouging law.”


        Court is right, but the quiet effort to help Big Oil gouge passed the Legislature by wide, bi-partisan margins.


        Which leaves things up to Newsom. If he signs this bill, it will mean that despite loud voices like Bonta’s, there is actually no significant force in Sacramento willing to stand up against Big Oil and its frequent gouging tactics.



    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, September 11, 2023







        Things were looking negative for individual police officers and police forces in California earlier this year. Job vacancies piled up, state Attorney General Rob Bonta seemingly launched constant brutality investigations and there was copious negative publicity about so-called “capture-and-release” of shoplifters and other misdemeanor suspects.


        New rules also compelled most police to wear body cameras tracking almost every move they make.


        All this has been fallout from the police killing of the African-American George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020.


        But late summer brought a fast turnabout for law officers in many places.


        Begin with recruiting bonuses and starting salaries. As vacancies stared them in the face and police response times climbed, many cities began offering large sums to new recruits who complete training and become sworn peace officers.


        San Francisco now hands out $5,000 signing bonuses and has raised entry-level pay to about $108,000. Richmond police won a labor contract giving them raises of 20 percent over the next two years. Los Angeles police are on the verge of a new pact that will increase starting pay by 13 percent.


        Incentives also include free gym memberships and dry cleaning for uniforms in many cities. But the richest benefits for rookie cops are coming in Alameda, whose force had vacancies in about one-third of its authorized positions just last spring. Money changed this quickly. Jobs are no longer going begging since the city council of the Oakland suburb authorized $75,000 enlistment bonuses and a base salary starting at $110,000 yearly, not including overtime.


        Then came the courts. Led by judicial appointees of ex-President George W. Bush and ex-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, both federal and state courts have lately expanded police privilege.


        The recent decisions may eventually be reversed, but for now, they’ve handed police officers vast new license.


        First came the state’s Fresno-based 5th District Court of Appeal, where a three-judge panel ruled early this fall that committing documented perjury as a sworn witness may not be enough to guarantee a cop’s firing.


        The 2-1 decision authored by Presiding Justice Charles Poochigian, a former Republican state senator named to the bench by Schwarznegger, held that when a Merced officer testified he had opened containers in a motel room accidentally, while in fact they could not have opened without being deliberately unzipped, it was not automatic grounds for dismissal.


        “Whether termination was an abuse of (police department discretion) should be (up to) the trial court,” Poochigian wrote. So the cop’s lying about how he came to open containers without a warrant, the judges ruled, was not necessarily grounds for dismissal.


        Mere days later, a panel of the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a policeman who shot a naked man allegedly trespassing in a gym locker room was not personally liable for killing the man, but was protected by “qualified immunity,” which shields police from personal responsibility when they do not violate “clearly established law.”


        The panel originally ruled last spring that circumstances of the shooting should leave the policeman liable to pay damages for the fatal shooting, but one of the original panel members resigned from the bench before that decision became final. When a George W. Bush appointee replaced that judge, the newly-shaped panel first voted to vacate the original ruling, then to reverse it.


        In both cases, dissenting judges were appointees of Democrats, and the majorities were named by Republicans.


        Both decisions stand a strong chance of being reversed on further appeals, the perjury result possibly by the state Supreme Court and the “qualified immunity” ruling by an 11-judge “en banc” panel of the Ninth District.


        In both cases, the political leanings of the judges involved – not the facts – appeared to be major factors. Republicans voted to give police more leeway and more protection from responsibility for their actions, while Democrats voted to be tougher on them.


At least for the moment, both decisions remain on the books, giving law enforcement more legal shielding than officers had lately appeared to possess.


        All of which has made the last few weeks the most relaxed time in several years for police in California.



    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








        “Next year in Jerusalem!”

                 Final line of virtually all Passover Seders


     There suddenly appears to be a strong possibility that the ethnic studies course requirement state legislators and Gov. Gavin Newsom adopted two years ago as a California high school graduation requirement may never become reality in many places.


        If so, it will come as a relief to members of several ethnic groups who have felt targeted from the moment this requirement was proposed about five years ago. Two drafts of rules and suggested content for the required course were rejected by lawmakers and the state Board of Education before a plan was finally approved with “guardrails” supposedly preventing content that promotes “bias, bigotry and discrimination.”


        But some school districts have hired groups including authors of the rejected ethnic studies versions to write local plans, and some of those have allegedly amounted to end runs around the so-called guardrails.


        Among other things, the early versions of the model curriculum adopted by the state claimed that immigrant groups including Irish-, Polish- and Jewish-Americans arrived in this country with built-in “white privilege,” no matter how poverty-ridden and filled with discrimination their lives really were.


        The authors of the rejected versions also have at times tried to make a distinction between Jews and Zionists, usually defined as believers in the concept that the land occupied by the current state of Israel and the Palestinian territories in Gaza and on the West Bank of the Jordan River should be a Jewish homeland.


        But there is no real distinction, as that last line of the texts used at millions of Passover Seders over the centuries makes clear. Almost all Zionists are Jews and most Jews believe there needs to be an Israel if only to provide a refuge in case of future reruns of the Holocaust.


        The reason for this attempted distinction is clear: the ethnic studies authors – many dedicated to the cause of “liberated” or “critical” ethnic studies, do not want to be accused of anti-Semitism, even while they back largely unfounded claims that Israel is a racist “apartheid” state that persecutes Palestinians.


         These folks ignore history, including the five-nation 1948 Arab assault on Israel moments after it declared independence and they ignore the charters of some leading Palestinian groups that call for ethnic cleansing of Israel's Jews “from the (Jordan) river to the (Mediterranean) sea.”


        There is little doubt that if their version of Jewish and Jewish-American history were widely taught, it would promote anti-Semitism of the type that has led to synagogue shootings from Pittsburgh to Poway.


        But because the 2021 AB 101, the measure that established the upcoming new graduation requirement, allows school boards to devise their own curricula, and not use the state’s model, the authors of rejected ethnic studies versions remain active and continue making money off their prejudices.


        Some school districts – including Hayward Unified, Castro Valley Unified and Santa Ana Unified – have already hired University of California and California State University faculty who are members of the Critical Ethnic Studies Assn. to write their curricula.


        That’s why, as a letter to legislators from more than 1,000 Californians noted, “Jewish communities across our state have discovered discriminatory content in several school districts in which anti-Semitic and/or anti-Israel biases are being adopted in ethnic studies curricula.”


            The way to stop this, the letter suggests, is for the Legislature not to provide the estimated $275 million per year needed to fund the graduation requirement. An amendment to AB 101 stipulates that the bill “is operative only upon an appropriation of funds…for purposes of (funding ethnic studies).” 


            As of late summer, less than one-fifth of that money had been allocated, and the letter suggests not providing more until or unless the curriculum is cleaned up and discriminatory language or false and defamatory information in local curricula is also corrected.


             Without the money, most districts won’t implement the new graduation requirement, which might then fade away under terms of the funding amendment to AB 101.


             It just may be that precisely such a disappearance is the right disposition of this requirement, which has always been motivated in part by resentment rather than documentable  history.



    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