Covering the campaign to replace LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky should have been near the top of my agenda.
Alas, my schedule has kept me away from home for several weeks during which time the candidates have ratcheted up the intensity.
The last thoughts I shared about Sheila Kuehl and Bobby Shriver go all the way back to the days immediately following the primary. They were positive thoughts.
Things have gotten testy lately, especially with Kuehl’s jabs about Shriver being the youngest child or what his initials stood for. Those remarks are typical trash talk that emerge in any race; they won’t gain or lose any votes. Shriver appeared to ignore them.
But there was one remark by Kuehl which should be taken seriously. She called Nevada foolish for offering Tesla a $1 billion tax break for a battery plant which will eventually employ 6,500 full-time employees and create hundreds of construction jobs. Instead, she stated Nevada would be better off adding 6,500 government jobs.
Two problems with her statement: the tax break is an opportunity cost – not hard dollars – and government jobs come at the expense of the taxpayers.
Nevada is not giving up much, if any, revenue because there is no other employer on the horizon approaching the size and scale of Tesla to occupy the site for the battery factory. In addition, the new jobs will lead to more sales and property tax revenue. I analyzed the deal in an earlier article.
I can overlook her lack of familiarity with the Tesla deal, but her logic that adding government jobs is better than increasing private employment raises very serious questions. Perhaps it was partly hyperbole – politicians are prone to using it – but I sense she is deeply committed to developing a strong alliance with the public unions. They are certainly investing heavily in her – over $2 million.
While both Shriver or Kuehl will have no choice but to work within the County’s current $26 billion budget, Kuehl may be inclined to cement ties with county employees by offering retirement and health benefit enhancements which will burden future years. She could be the swing vote for labor on the board.
Perhaps I am reading too much into her statement, but where there’s smoke, there is fire.
And with important labor negotiations coming up, there will be much pressure by the public unions on Kuehl to deliver. This is an issue that needs to be pressed in the remaining days of the campaign.