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Opinion L.A. Observations and provocations from The Times' Opinion Staff
A second chance for Proposition 30 taxes? Survey says, probably.

The California legislators who might have been hesitant to talk about an extension of Proposition 30’s temporary taxes may be less squeamish to do so now.

This week the Public Policy Institute of California released the results of its recent survey on the state of Californians’ political mind, "Californians and Their Government," which found that more than half of Californians polled think Proposition 30.2 is a great idea. And that’s before the hard sell of a campaign.

Likely voters support the idea at a slightly smaller percentage, the poll found.

Proposition 30 increased state sales tax by a quarter-cent and raised income tax for top earners. It was part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2012 package to close the state’s budget gap and it passed with 55.4% of the vote.

Long before this poll, some Democratic lawmakers had already raised the possibility of a Proposition 30 extension. If it isn't renewed, a substantial money stream will start to dry up on Dec. 31, 2016 and disappear by the end of...

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The siren call of ... Florida, home of sinkholes and hurricanes?

Déjà vu, anyone?

Rick Scott, the governor of Florida, is coming this way next month to try to lure California businesses to the place that calls itself the Sunshine State.

Last time this happened, it was another big-talking governor named Rick -- Rick Perry of Texas, who showed up in Sacramento driving a Tesla to entice the car company to set up its battery factory in the Lone Star State. It went to Nevada instead.

Now it’s Scott’s turn. But what would await a California company in Florida, beside sinkholes, huge insects, humidity, strip malls, backyard alligators, mold, and modern cannibalism (the “Miami Zombie” was in 2012; the Donner Party was nearly 170 years ago)?

Matters like this:

As California leads the nation in grappling with climate change, Scott has whacked at the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, and reportedly told state officials in Florida – with 1,350 miles of ocean coastline – not to use phrases like “global warming” or “climate change.”

Scott – who...

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California's cracking down on urban water waste. What about the farmers?

California's brutal drought has state officials looking for ways to conserve water. Ideas that they are considering include "directing urban agencies to limit the number of days residents can water their yards," according to The Times. The emergency restrictions also "prohibit landscape irrigation during and for 48 hours after measurable rainfall, direct restaurants to serve water only on request and instruct hotels to offer customers the option of not having their linens and towels washed daily," Bettina Boxall reported.  

As George Skelton points out in his Times column, state water conservation efforts are focused almost exclusively on individuals while ignoring the well-hydrated elephant in the room: California's agriculture industry consumes the lion's share of the state's "developed water" (i.e., water that is managed and controlled in reservoirs, dams, rivers, etc.).

"Urban use accounts for only 20% of California's developed water. Agriculture sucks up 80%," Skelton writes....

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Kamala Harris' (over)reaction to anti-sodomy initiative gives idea more power

The backlash over the “Sodomite Suppression Act,” the vicious anti-gay ballot initiative proposal, reached the ridiculous stage Wednesday when California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris announced she would try to block it from the ballot.

In a press release, she wrote that “this proposal not only threatens public safety, it is patently unconstitutional, utterly reprehensible, and has no place in a civil society. Today, I am filing an action for declaratory relief with the court seeking judicial authorization for relief from the duty to prepare and issue the title and summary for the ‘Sodomite Suppression Act.’”

In so doing, Harris bestowed a level of gravity on a nutty proposal that would have otherwise probably died a quiet, ignoble death in some dark corner.

We don’t like the proposal any more than Harris does, and said so in an editorial this week urging her not to quash it. Not only does it appear that she doesn’t have the authority to keep offensive proposals from voters, but it also...

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The obesity epidemic is too complicated for simplistic fixes like fast-food bans

Limiting the number of standalone fast-food restaurants in a neighborhood can improve its looks, but no one should be surprised when such a policy doesn’t do much about obesity.

For many reasons, it was silly to think that it would. The 2008 ban on new standalone fast-food joints in the neighborhood of Baldwin Hills, Leimert Park and parts of South and Southeast Los Angeles was mainly intended to give the neighborhood some of the planning oversight that neighborhoods in such areas as the Westside enjoy. Long vistas of gaudy signs don’t make for the kind of neighborhood most people want. As a side advantage, supporters talked up the effect they presumed this would have on residents’ health through reductions in obesity rates (though The Times editorial board cast doubt on that assumption at the time).

Seven years later, along comes a RAND Corp. study that blasts such dietary myths out of the water as though they were so many fish in a barrel. Despite claims by the nonprofit Community...

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Why do we love to watch psychopaths?

With the success of HBO’s "The Jinx" and Robert Durst's impending extradition to Los Angeles for trial on a murder charge, I've found myself incessantly wondering: Why are audiences (myself included) so powerfully drawn to -- and entertained by -- stories about apparent psychopaths?

I posed this question to prominent writers, producers, entertainers, clinicians and academics who've had experience with the subject, and their responses were varied and fascinating. I've compiled the best of those responses, and ultimately formulated a hypothesis of my own.

Martha De Laurentiis, executive producer, "Hannibal":

"The most interesting psychopaths exhibit some unfettered id, some brilliantly manipulative side of our personalities we keep in check from the world. Yet, most of us don’t really want to hurt people, we don’t truly understand the needs that drive killers, and that tension between seduction and repulsion ends up being endlessly fascinating."

Wendy West, executive producer, "Dexter"...

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