Welcome to the Super PAC Era

Is candidate centered campaign fundraising a thing of the past?

Greetings, and welcome to the Super PAC era. Thanks in part to the Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Citizens United, we now have new entities called "Super PACs," which are organizations that can raise and spend unlimited political funds.

Should Special Interests Have Funded Jerry Brown's China Trip?

Gov. Jerry Brown at a China/Los Angeles function in 2012. | Photo: David Starkopf / Office of Mayor Antonio R. VillaraigosaGovernor Jerry Brown recently returned from a trip to China, the purpose of which was to increase trade between the country and the Golden State. He was accompanied by 10 staffers. Sounds expensive, right? It no doubt was.

You might be wondering how strapped taxpayers could afford to foot the bill for such an international trip. Well, you need not ponder this issue. Brown did not travel on the public dime. Instead special interest groups footed the bill for his international voyage. These groups include the California Beer and Beverage Distributors, the California Hospital Association, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, State Farm Insurance, Bank of America, Wells Fargo & Co., United Airlines, HSBC, and Siemens. No doubt, all of these groups would like to secure favorable treatment by the state.

Cheat Sheet: Proposition D to Limit, Tax L.A. Medical Marijuana Shops

After two voter-led medical marijuana initiatives made their way onto Los Angeles' May 21 ballot, the City Council was determined to act. Proposition D is the Los Angeles City Council's response to these two initiatives -- ordinances E and F -- and intended to be a compromise between the two.

At its core, Proposition D is a nonproliferation law. It seeks to limit the number of medical marijuana dispensaries operating within the city to 135, approximately the same number allowed by the city prior to a 2007 moratorium imposed by the City Council. Currently, there's an estimated 1,700 to 1,800 dispensaries.

Cheat Sheet: Ordinance E to Limit, Redefine L.A. Medical Marijuana Shops

Originally supported by the Committee to Protect Patients and Neighborhoods and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union, Ordinance E is now the odd man out in this three-pronged medical marijuana debate. Like the city of Los Angeles' Proposition D, Ordinance E seeks to limit the number of medical marijuana dispensaries operating within the city to 135, the approximate number approved by the city prior to the 2007 moratorium placed on dispensaries. Currently, there's an estimated 1,700 to 1,800 dispensaries.

But Ordinance E has one major oversight: nowhere in the legislation is there a stipulation to raise taxes on medical marijuana dispensaries. The omission, coupled with a series of compromises made between Ordinance E proponents and the City Council, has led the original supporters of Ordinance E to abandon the measure. They have instructed their supporters to vote for Proposition D.

Notwithstanding, Ordinance E will still be on the May 21 ballot. And while its principal proponents have jumped ship, the ballot measure still has support.

Cheat Sheet: Ordinance F to Keep L.A.'s Medical Marijuana Shops Open

There are an estimated 1,700-1,800 medical marijuana dispensaries currently operating in Los Angeles. However, if the city of Los Angeles and the City Council had their way, they'd like to limit that number to 135.

Therein lies the crux of the medical marijuana debate being presented to voters on the May 21 ballot.

Should the remaining 1,600 or so medical marijuana shops be forced to close? Or should we allow these storefronts to remain open? Are they a nuisance to our neighborhoods or are they providing a legal and necessary service?

Ordinance F seeks to prevent any and all regulation on the number of medical pot shops allowed to operate in the city, so long as they meet a series of requirements. Those stipulations range from mandatory background checks to frequent testing of marijuana products sold to patients for pesticides and toxins.

Understanding the Difference Between L.A.'s 3 Medical Marijuana Measures

Pictured, several marijuana plants being grown for medicinal use sit in an indoor growing facility in Santa Barbara, California. | Photo: Courtesy Kyle Trafas

Los Angeles voters headed to the polls on May 21 will be asked to choose between three distinct, yet overlapping ballot measures seeking to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries operating within city limits.

Proponents of the three initiatives -- Proposition D and ordinances E and F -- argue that a new, comprehensive policy is necessary to put an end to nearly 17 years of ambiguity surrounding the distribution of medical marijuana in Los Angeles. The measures include plans to cap the number of dispensaries permissible, increase taxes on earnings, and standardize operation hours and distances from sensitive areas, such as schools and childcare centers.

But there's an odd man out in this ballot measure battle royale.