Silicon Valley is tackling the drought

Last year, California's drought cost our economy over $2 billion and 20,000 jobs. Californians understand that the lack of a sustainable water supply costs us much more than brown lawns. The drought has forced all of us to understand that water is not an unlimited resource. Continue reading

How we distinguish employees, contractors and workers

Uber is officially a part of the 2016 presidential race. Last year, the California Labor Commission found that an Uber driver had been misclassified as an independent contractor, instead of as an employee. Weeks later, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton suggested companies such as Uber were committing “wage theft” by misclassifying employees as independent contractors, and thereby stripping them of employee benefits. Within days, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush very publicly hailed a ride in an Uber to travel in San Francisco. The debate was on. Continue reading

Looming El Niño Exposes California's Water Vulnerabilities

We should be careful what we wish for. Californians have been praying for rain for four years. Now experts say we may face the strongest series of rainstorms on record. California is expected to get more rain this winter than in the last four years combined, more even than during the 1997 El Niño that killed 17 people in California and caused over $500 million in damage. Unfortunately, despite the 18 years that have passed since that El Niño, California remains perilously unprepared for the next one. Continue reading

Why I Changed My Mind to Oppose the Death Penalty

For 30 years I supported the death penalty. I felt that the state should make a strong statement that those who commit the most heinous crimes receive the ultimate penalty. This view was reinforced by the almost universal support from law enforcement. The people who most often deal with the worst criminals understand that evil exists in a small percentage of the population. As a public official, their opinion on this issue counted for a lot with me, as did my own sense of justice. Continue reading

Investing in socially responsible companies makes sense

By Tom Kiely, Lenny Mendonca and Steve Westly What do CalPERS, and many of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds from Scandinavia to the Mideast have in common? They’re betting big on sustainability. Continue reading

Fighting Climate Change Is Good for California's Economy

By Steve Westly and Fred Keeley The California State Senate recently passed a sweeping legislative package to bolster California's fight against climate change. This came on the heels of Governor Jerry Brown signing an historic agreement with leaders from 11 states and provinces around the world to achieve meaningful reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and issuing an executive order committing California to the most aggressive emissions-reduction targets in the nation. While some have applauded the Governor and legislature's leadership on addressing climate change, others quickly labeled the efforts as job-killers. They could not be more wrong.  Continue reading

California’s old political machine losing steam

BY JOHN DIAZ A quiet revolution is occurring in California politics. Centrist Democrat Steve Glazer’s victory over more doctrinaire Democrat Susan Bonilla in a special election for a state Senate seat in the East Bay is just the latest, and perhaps most profound, evidence that public-employee unions are losing their control over the California Legislature. Continue reading

Carbon pricing safeguards economy

BY STEVE WESTLY Last week’s executive order on climate change from Gov. Jerry Brown offers a valuable opportunity to reflect on what Pacific Coast climate leadership is helping us achieve. As someone whose career has spanned both economic and environmental interests, I have a unique vantage point on why reducing carbon emissions is a win-win for both business and the environment. That is why I was also pleased to learn that Ontario is joining forces with California and Quebec in putting a price on carbon pollution. Continue reading

The California Drought: Don’t Give Up On Silicon Valley Yet

BY STEVE WESTLY The New York Times published an article on Monday suggesting that while tech companies are busy changing the world, they seem to be absent in terms of helping with California’s historic drought. I disagree. There are two pieces of good news here. First, a number of Bay Area companies are developing new technologies that use smart phones, the Internet, big data, and the “Internet of Things” to help conserve water. For example, weather-based irrigation controllers account for local weather conditions to provide your yard with only as much water as it needs and no more. Controllers gather weather information from an online connection or through a local weather station and soil moisture sensors. Continue reading

NEWS: Steve Westly moving toward 2018 bid for governor

By MICHAEL FINNEGAN (via LA Times) Former state Controller Steve Westly, a wealthy Silicon Valley businessman, is laying ground for a potential run for governor in 2018. Westly, who now runs a venture capital firm in Menlo Park, has been itching to return to public office since he lost the 2006 Democratic primary for governor. He has been talking privately about the governor’s race with potential supporters. Continue reading