We made it to New Year’s Eve 2019 – the last day of the year and the last day of the decade.
In between getting ready for a great party and enjoying some champagne, today is a time to look back on the year that was. 2019 was PRI’s 40th anniversary year, so it naturally our year-long celebration will hold a special place in our memories.
This was also a memorable year in the world of politics and public policy. As is our custom, the PRI “All Stars” (Rowena Itchon, Kerry Jackson, Ben Smithwick, Lance Izumi, new member Evan Harris, and myself) got together recently in San Francisco before our annual PRI holiday lunch to record our annual “Year End Awards” episode of the “Next Round” podcast. If you’re not a regular listener, subscribe now iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, TuneIn, or YouTube to listen each week.
Inspired by past PRI podcast guest Tom Rogan of the Washington Examiner, the moderator of the recently-relaunched political discussion show, “The McLaughlin Group,” we present year-end awards to both those who inspired – and annoyed – us in the past year.
Here are a few of the highlights:
Biggest Winner of 2019
As this blog’s author, I’ll start with my choice for Biggest Winner of 2019, and you might be surprised by my pick: California Gov. Gavin Newsom. My selection of Gov. Newsom was not inspired by the fact that some TV station apparently confused the two of us earlier this year when they aired an interview with me but identified me as Newsom.
Much like President Trump said his administration would be winning some much we’d get tired of winning, Newsom had perhaps the most successful first year of a California governorship in recent memory – if you judge his administration by successfully moving the ball forward in advancing his agenda. Parents are already tired of his winning so much attacking charter schools, and taxpayers are already tired of the significant increase in government spending in his first enacted budget.
Best Policy Idea of 2019
Kerry Jackson’s choice is the “Fair Pay to Play Act,” which lets college students in California earn money from their name, image, and likeness without losing their amateur athletic status. He calls is a rare good piece of legislation to come out of the California Legislature, one proposal which he hopes will be exported to other states.
Worst Policy idea of 2019
Lance Izumi names Assembly Bill 1505 as his worst policy idea of 2019. He says that the bill will destroy charter schools in the state, and ultimately kids will be the big losers from Gov. Newsom’s signature on this very controversial law. The bill will limit charter school expansion, give local school boards new reasons to deny charters, and make it much harder for charters to gain a foothold in the community.
Ben Smithwick’s pick was the status quo on homelessness in California. He cited the recent news that San Francisco lost a major conference – Oracle’s OpenWorld – to Los Vegas starting next year, in part because of the City’s homeless crisis. The loss will cost San Francisco an estimated $64 million. He says that the news is the latest sign that California needs to rethink its anti-homeless policies.
Fairest Rap of 2019
Evan Harris chose the former CEO of WeWork, Adam Neumann, whose irregularities in setting up and running the company were discovered while its financials were being reviewed during the IPO process. Among the questionable activities discovered such as personally trademarking the name “We” and receiving $5.9 million in payments for the right to use the name, and allegedly taking $700 million out of the country before the planned IPO – aside from his alleged drug use, and inappropriate behavior with employees at the company.
Bummest “Wrap” of 2019
Rowena Itchon wins the award for most creative award recipient. Her choice is the sundried tomato pesto chicken wrap served on United Airlines. She says the wrap, which costs $10, doesn’t really have much flavor despite all of the fancy ingredients that go into making one. She doesn’t recommend ordering one while flying, which he says personifies a real “bummer” of a wrap.
From all of us at the Pacific Research Institute, we wish you a very Happy New Year!
Tim Anaya is Pacific Research Institute’s senior director of communications and the Sacramento office.