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Opinion

Newsletter: Save us from measles and rent hikes, Gov. Newsom

Gavin Newsom
Gov. Gavin Newsom in Los Angeles on Aug. 8.
(Los Angeles Times)

Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. The stars are aligned for the Dodgers to clinch another division championship against the Giants (how sweet that is). Let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.

You can’t fault Gavin Newsom for not giving himself anything to do, although you might be able to ding him for procrastination. The first-year governor has been busy lately, and by “busy” and “lately,” I mean having to make several decisions in the next week on issues fundamental to the quality of life in California.

First, the good: Last week, Newsom delivered a sharp rebuke to local governments in Southern California that prefer to slow-walk their responses to the state’s housing and homelessness crisis. He won praise from the L.A. Times Editorial Board for telling them to plan for the construction of 1.3 million additional homes in the next decade, about three times what they had proposed. And he finally threw his support behind a rent-control measure that had been kicking around Sacramento for the last few months, a last-minute turnaround that the editorial board calls “remarkable.”

And now, the not-so-good: Newsom, who has cultivated a reputation as a voice of reason on climate change and immigration during the Trump era, has been acting irrationally on a badly needed measure to close the loophole in California’s vaccination law that allows parents to get dubious medical exemptions from unscrupulous physicians. The bill, SB 276, finally made it to Newsom’s desk this week, and the instructions from the L.A. Times editorial board were simple: Sign the bill, even without the companion legislation Newsom wanted with it.

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Sadly, the legislation’s author agreed Friday to make revisions that mollify the governor but significantly weaken the bill.

Also from the week in Opinion:

Readers disagree with us on housing and rent control. Los Angeles isn’t exactly known for its density, but to many of our readers — including one who proudly wears the “NIMBY” mantle — there are enough homes, people and traffic here already. As for rent control, some letter writers warned that capping how much landlords can charge and, therefore, earn on their investments is exactly the wrong response to the state’s housing crisis.

We have proof: Mass shootings are a national emergency. Ever come cross those bogus claims that hammers and fists kill more people than guns? This should put aside efforts to downplay the worsening mass shooting epidemic in America: Two criminologists analyzed 53 years of data on mass shootings, and they found that not only are attacks growing more frequent, they’re also getting deadlier. L.A. Times

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For the love of God, Mr. President, don’t listen to Sam Zell — and not just because it was under him that the L.A. Times’ former parent company landed in bankruptcy, eventually setting the stage for what became Tronc. Rather, the billionaire investor went on TV and flattered Trump, assuring him that China would inevitably surrender in the trade war, and urged him not to let up on tariffs. That’s terrible advice. L.A. Times

Uber drivers deserve to be classified as full employees. A bill on the brink of passage in California presents an existential threat to companies such as Uber and Lyft, which rely on drivers classified as independent contractors. Uber, which transitioned recently from a take-no-prisoners startup to a more cautious publicly traded company, wants legislation that would keep its drivers’ classification as is while giving them more labor protections. But remember, this is Uber we’re talking about. New York Times

That same legislation may also present an existential threat to newspapers. Assembly Bill 5 would affect not only the likes of Uber and Lyft but also the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers, which rely on independent, part-time contractors to deliver their print products. Newspapers are already struggling financially; forcing them to provide workplace benefits and protections to deliverers could deal a devastating blow to the press in California. L.A. Times

Reach me: paul.thornton@latimes.com


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