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Category: California Politics

Blood Sport

Darrell Steinberg wants a tax increase: But 2 out of three are bad.

Darrell Steinberg wants a tax increase: But 2 out of three are bad.

In a Sacramento Bee article, California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D Sacramento) notes that the possibility of sending competing tax increase measures before the voters is fraught with peril. Make no mistake, Senator Steinberg wants a tax increase to pass. Because California’s highest earners aren’t paying enough?

Steinberg said it “scares the heck out of me” that if the other tax measures remain on the ballot, Brown’s might fail. For Brown, he said, it’s a “tough time” to be governor.

“In some ways the system is designed, especially in the modern era, it invites a lot of chaos,” he said.

It’s a little bit of direct democracy run wild.”

Spending initiatives passed by California Voters are part of the California Budget problem. But Senator Steinberg is speaking out of both sides of his mouth. Spending (and taxing),  is the responsibility of the Legislature. Senator Steinberg wants to abdicate his responsibility to “the will of the people”.  He would prefer not to be holding the bag, voting for a tax increase in the Senate, especially if it barely passes. Passing a tax increase by a Democrat majority would mean that he would effectively own it. Much easier to bestow that ugly mantle of ownership onto the voters.

So it’s convenient to use the electorate to do what the Senator has not the will, (nor the support) to so himself, but competing measures are direct democracy run wild. Which is it Senator? You can’t have it both ways. Either the initiative process is democracy at it’s purest, or it’s chaos.

But indicative of the all the competing tax increase initiatives, is the concept of class warfare. “We need more money, so I ask you to vote to take it from someone else.” The idea that the government can choose who to make pay for reckless spending should be frightening to one and all. That they elect to couch it in terms of “making millionaires” pay higher taxes is just populist pablum. If the support for higher taxes is present in the electorate, then just pass a tax increase in the legislature, and have the Governor sign it into law. But instead of acting boldly, and because they know there isn’t any real support for tax increases, regardless of who would have to pay for it, they want to leave the smoking gun in the hand of the voter. They want to profit from robbing the citizen, but have the voter pull the trigger, and face the consequences. The California elected class are simply Street Gang Lords – they invite the crime, and the chaos, but choose to hide behind the voters, their gang, when it comes time to pay the cost of the crime. Cowards.

How to build a monster, or, How California Government feeds on itself.

How to build a monster, or, How California Government feeds on itself.

Dan Walters, in the Sacramento Bee points out the obvious about government, and the impacts of it’s intrusion into the lives of it’s citizens:

Every new regulatory or taxation policy immediately spawns an array of financial stakeholders who then hire lobbyists and political consultants, distribute money to political policymakers, and seek self-serving applications of government power.

They may be a subsidy from a local government redevelopment agency, a tax loophole, a regulatory crackdown on a competitor, a change in the coastal zone’s regulatory boundaries, or monopoly licensing status, to name but a few examples.

It is so obvious, the buying of votes with the voters’ own money, the pointed pandering at the expense of the people, the naked quest for power, it should make one ill.

The Capitol’s chief activity is, in fact, directly or indirectly taking money from someone and giving it to someone else. And one of its dirty little secrets is that the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on lobbying, contributions and other tools of persuasion pale in comparison to the many billions of dollars that politicians can dispense.

Walters concludes with an example of one of the laws where the Legislature attempts to give exemptions to those who have curried political favor:

If CEQA is a good law, it should be good for everyone, not just those who lack the political clout to gain some relief from its restrictions and requirements.

And if CEQA is too onerous, it should be changed, not merely riddled with special-interest loopholes.

California cries about jobs, while killing job creators

California cries about jobs, while killing job creators

California Unemployment is going up. Not that it wasn’t already up. It has hovered near  12% for well in excess of a year. And it certainly isn’t going to get better soon.

California has a functional $9 billion budget deficit. Meaning that functionally, because of spending mandated via legislation, and the Californian public’s absurd predisposition of spending through bond initiatives, the state is committed – by law – to spending $9 billion a year more than it takes in.

How does the state raise money – er, sorry- revenue? Taxes. Property and, primarily, income taxes. The fewer people working, the less taxes come in, the more dollars go out for Unemployment Insurance (which is already $20 Billion in debt, but that’s yet another story). So fewer people working is extra-super-double-bad for the budget deficit.

But here is an example of a California company that is growing. Waste Connections is one of the larger waste management companies in the country. They are a national business, in that that they have acquired other companies, and operate in 30 states. It is the  Sacramento region’s largest publicly trade company, employing about 200 people in it’s Folsom CA office. They figure that they bring about $100 million to the local economy through various taxes, and charitable giving.

And right now, they are negotiating with Texas to move from Folsom, to Austin, Houston, or Woodlands.

Pivotal in Waste Connections’ decision to relocate to Texas, is whether a piece of legislation passes the California legislature that would allow them to move a higher volume of non-local waste to a landfill in Solano County, where they have made a $100 million dollar investment.

But it is the pervasive attitude of California government, at the State, and local levels, along with the environmental lobby, that frames the story of how California’s economy became the disgrace that it is today. In an environment where California cannot grow new jobs, it is insistent on even chasing away the jobs that are already here.

Kelly Smith, attorney for an environmental group that opposed the bill and Waste Connections’ Solano County expansion, said he hopes the company’s potential exit would result in new landfill owners who are more willing to work with the local community. “I don’t think anybody is going to miss a couple of accountants in Folsom,” said Smith, who represents Sustainability, Parks, Recycling and Wildlife Legal Defense Fund.

Lawyers. It’s always lawyers.

Mr Smith, how many jobs have you created? Mr. Smith’s solution is to run a growing local company out of the state, in the hopes, *hopes!* that other owners would submit to his green beliefs. Waste Connections has already contributed more to local communities through jobs and charitable giving than you or your feel-good, do-gooder-ism cohorts could hope to contribute in your racketeering, hold-up-artist lifetimes.

Don’t think “anybody is going to miss a few accountants in Folsom”? There are 200 employees in the Waste Connections offices in Folsom. With families. That spend money locally. That pay taxes. Taxes that help hold businesses ransom through governmental edict, so that  flim flam shyster dirtbags like yourself can manipulate companies with your gangster tactics into either paying up or leaving. Have you created 200 jobs? Can you? Can you manufacture them on command? Because Folsom will be missing them, and could use those 200 jobs.

At this point, with our state collapsing in upon itself, we cannot afford to wantonly cast aside any jobs. We don’t have the luxury of selecting only those jobs that meet the narrow minded approval of the self appointed arbiters of Gaia. California should not be in the enterprise of chasing away  businesses, picking winners or losers. We need to foster business and employment.

Margaret Thatcher wasn’t so far from wrong when she quipped: “The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money’.” It’s even harder to run out of other people’s money when they’ve taken it and moved to Texas.

The path back to California largess is though employment. There is no other way.

Once Upon A Time, A Golden State

Once Upon A Time, A Golden State

Victor Davis Hanson posits at Pajamas Media on the past state of California’s greatness, and our lack of attribution to those who carried the burden of achieving it:

5) I can never quite understand the writ against our ancestors.

I came into this world in 1953 replete with electricity, and modern medicine at the dawn of the age of antibiotics and polio vaccines, and relative peace — no Japanese imperialism, or German Nazism, no death from tetanus. Who gave us all that and at what price? California had then a wonderful university system, impressive freeways, a lean and hard working public sector, and vibrant industry. We were given so much and yet appreciate so little of that inheritance, citing the sins of past generations, less commonly the gifts they bestowed. I said “gifts” because if they were not benefactions, we would have blown up Hetch-Hetchy dam, turned off the juice from the Morro Bay or Moss Landing power plants, or passed on driving on the 99. Has our generation improved test scores, or created safer streets? Is air travel so much better than forty years ago? When one walks into the DMV, or the county assessor’s office, are the employees so much more polite and competent than in the past?

As to VDH’s assessment of California, he’s on point (except to referring to Highway 99 which runs near his Fresno farm homestead as The 99. Only folks from southern California call a highway or interstate “The”).

I was born in 1967, and by the time I was in elementary school the first coloring of the California retreat was manifest. You could still point to the greatness of the California largess, but the cracks were there, and hard to ignore.

Basically, when you live in the land of milk and honey, everyone after the first generation whom built it, or the second generation that saw it being built, expects nothing less, because it was given to them, not because they worked to achieve it. Then the campaign becomes full-throated to provide for citizens, and the reasoning is twofold:

  1. People like it when things are given to them, and paid for by someone else.
  2. Giving people something, and having someone else pay for it, is a source of power, and wins votes.

    So here we are today in California: bad schools, a crumbling infrastructure, business crushing regulation, a built-in functional $12billion budget hole, and no solution in sight. The most important goal now in California budgeting is The Safety Net.

    We used to be something.

    Sad, isn’t it?

    San Francisco considers new tolls.. to cross town.

    San Francisco considers new tolls.. to cross town.

    A bit of Friday morning delight. From the Sacramento Bee:

    San Francisco transportation officials are considering charging drivers to cross downtown and the city’s southern border with San Mateo County.
    Among the ideas under consideration is a $6 charge to leave the city’s northeast sector, which includes the Financial District, weekdays between 3:30 and 6:30 p.m.
    Hey – kind of like a ransom, no? The Toll receipt should look just like a ransom note, using letters cut out of news papers and magazines!
    I believe that we have discovered the key to solving California’s budget problems. We just need to charge people to leave the state. A big ‘ol toll booth on the eastern terminus of Highway 50 At the Y in South Lake Tahoe. Why not a Floriston Wall on Interstate 80, similar to the one we lost in Berlin?
    We can charge for visitors too! Get ’em coming and going!
    While we’re at it, let’s get rid of those pesky Red Light Cameras. Let’s just charge implement a Red Light Tax Fee. Everyone pays! Those things cost money to run, you know.
    What about those that don’t use cars? That’s a lot of potential revenue that we’re leaving on the table. Very well, time to initiate the Cross Walk Toll. That will be used in conjunction with the Just Standing There Toll.
    I don’t know why our State Budget was so late, when the streets here are paved with gold.

    Photo by Noah Berger / San Francisco Chronicle
    Deborah Ortiz: “Let them eat cake. No, wait – give me their cake…” UPDATED

    Deborah Ortiz: “Let them eat cake. No, wait – give me their cake…” UPDATED

    Ken Barnes, running for Trustee Area 6 position on the Los Rios Community College District (LRCCD) Board of Trustees, notes that former California State Senator Deborah Ortiz has friends in high places, and is not afraid to use them. Failing to meet the filing deadline for LRCCD Area 6 Trustee election in November, she had Sacramento County extend the filing deadline, just for her.

    Ken posts this on his Facebook Page:

    Former State Senator Deborah Ortiz Seeks Special Consideration, Flaunts Election Law
    Share
    Yesterday at 6:30pm
    Former State Senator Deborah Ortiz Seeks Special Consideration,
    Flaunts Election Law
    Forces Sacramento County Counsel to Extend Her Personal Filing Deadline from Friday August 6 at 5p to Monday August 9 at Noon

    Dear Friends,

    While my plans were to make individual, personal calls to announce my first campaign for elective office, emergency circumstances have forced me to communicate en masse. This past Friday August 6th I filed nomination papers to run for the vacant Trustee Area 6 position on the Los Rios Community College District (LRCCD) Board of Trustees. My former representative on the board, Bruce Pomer, resigned his position for job related reasons this past spring. Former State Senator, and current Vice President of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, Deborah Ortiz pulled nomination papers for LRCCD, but failed to file them by Friday’s 5p deadline. Ortiz then contacted the Sacramento County Elections Office and the County Counsel, demanding that she be given special consideration and an extended filing period. On the afternoon of Saturday August 7th I was contacted by Campaign Services Manager Brad Buyse, who informed me that the Sacramento County Counsel had instructed him to extend the filing period for Ortiz until Monday August 9th at 12 Noon. According to Buyse, Ortiz claims she called the county elections office earlier in the day to clarify the filing deadline, and was told by a staffer it was Wednesday August 11th at 5p.

    Background
    In April 2010 Bruce Pomer, the 20 year incumbent, resigned from his seat on the LRCCD. During the May 26, 2010 LRCCD Board of Trustees meeting it was decided that no temporary appointment would be made, and that the seat would be filled in the November general election (as the seat was already up for re-election in November). Under California election law if an incumbent fails to file for re-election, then the filing period is extended by 5 days (83 days from the election). However, because Pomer resigned his seat there is no incumbent, and the deadline to file is not extended. Ortiz, a well trained attorney and long time elected official, claims she was confused by the notes in the Candidate’s Guide (listed below), although I and a 22 year old Los Rios student (Andrey Rytikoff) were able to understand the clear instructions.

    Requested Action
    Contact Sacramento County Counsel Robert Ryan, Jr. RRyan@saccounty.net and Sacramento County Campaign Services Manager Brad Buyse BuyseB@saccounty.net, and demand that 14th amendment protections for equality under the law be respected. While I was standing inside the elections office I noticed an employee stationed at the entrance. At exactly 5:00p the door was locked, and at 5:01p a young woman came running to the door to file election papers. She was told “sorry, the deadline is exactly 5p.” If a regular citizen cannot be granted an extra 72 seconds, why should the powerful Ortiz be given an extra 72 hours?

    Filing a legal injunction against Ortiz will cost $5,000 to $10,000, therefore it is my hope that elected officials of good conscious will immediately step forward and speak out against this abuse of power. The question here is not one concerning the simpleminded arguments of left versus right, or republican versus democrat, but rather a vertical question with societal implications: will we continue to allow the well connected and powerful to trample on the rights of regular citizens?

    References and Notes
    Los Rios Community College District Board Meeting Agenda May 26, 2010
    Action Item 4-A. Trustee Area 6 Vacancy

    Los Rios Community College District Press Releases – May 27, 2010
    Los Rios Trustee Vacancy to Be Filled in November Election
    “Sacramento—Last night at its regularly scheduled meeting the Los Rios Community College District Board of Trustees approved the filling of the Area 6 Trustee vacancy by election on November 2, 2010. The Area 6 Trustee seat was held by Bruce Pomer who resigned from the Board for job related reasons …. The deadline for candidates to file to run in the November 2 General Election is August 6, 2010.”

    Los Rios Community College District Board of Trustees
    Trustee Name Area 6 = Vacant

    Sacramento County Candidate’s Guide for November 2010 Election
    • Cover Sheet from Brad R. Buyse, Campaign Services Manager
    “This guide has been compiled to assist candidates in preparing for the November 2, 2010 General Election. It is intended to provide general information about the nomination and election of candidates and does not have the force of law, regulation or rule. It is distributed with the understanding that we are not rendering legal advice and, therefore, the guide is not to be a substitute for legal counsel for any individual, organization or candidate. In case of conflict, the law, regulation or rule will apply.”
    • Page 1: Nomination Period July 12 through August 6 – For school and special districts, nomination papers are issued and filed with the Registrar of Voters during these dates.
    • Page 13: Activity Schedule – August 6, 5:00pm. Filing of Nomination Papers – Nomination papers must be filed with the Registrar of Voters, 7000 65th Street, Suite A, Sacramento, not later than 5:00 p.m. on August 6, 2010.

    Sacramento County General Election Nominations Calendar
    • Page 1: E-88 (88 days until Election Day). AUG 6. All nomination documents and any candidate statements must be filed by 5:00 p.m. (EC 10407; 10510; 13307)

    California Elections Code 10407(a)(b)
    (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, whenever
    other elections are consolidated with a regularly scheduled election,
    the period for the filing of nomination documents by candidates in
    elections consolidated with the regularly scheduled election shall
    commence on the 113th day prior to the election. The nomination
    documents shall be filed not later than 5 p.m. on the 88th day prior
    to the regularly scheduled election in the office of the appropriate
    officer, during regular office hours.
    (b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), if nomination documents for
    an incumbent officer of a political subdivision are not filed by 5
    p.m. on the 88th day before the election, any person other than the
    person who was the incumbent on the 88th day shall have until 5 p.m.
    on the 83rd day before the election to file nomination documents for
    the elective office. This section is not applicable where there is no
    incumbent eligible to be elected.

    California Elections Code 10510(a)(b)(c)
    10510. (a) Forms for declarations of candidacy for all district
    offices shall be obtained from the office of the county elections
    official. The county elections official may, for convenience or
    necessity, authorize the district secretary to issue declarations of
    candidacy. The forms shall first be available on the 113th day prior
    to the general district election and shall be filed not later than 5
    p.m. on the 88th day prior to the general district election in the
    office of the county elections official during regular office hours
    or may be filed by certified mail so that the forms reach the office
    of the county election official no later than the deadline for filing
    in that office. The county elections official shall record the date
    of filing upon the first page of each declaration of candidacy filed
    pursuant to this section. No candidate shall withdraw his or her
    declaration of candidacy after 5 p.m. on the 88th day prior to the
    general district election.
    (b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a person shall not
    file nomination papers for more than one district office or term of
    office for the same district at the same election.
    (c) On request of the district secretary, the county elections
    official shall provide the secretary with a copy of each declaration
    of candidacy filed pursuant to this section.

    UPDATE 08/09/10 @10:25AM

    Ken posts on his Facebook page this charming tidbit from the California Secretary of State’s office:

    I’m just now leaving the California Secretary of State Elections Division. They told me there is no help available to me because this is not a statewide or legislative election … I thought the purpose of the Sect’y of State was to ensure fair elections across California at all levels.

    While Rome Burns.

    While Rome Burns.

    California. What a mess. How did we get here? Like this:

    Do nothing feel-goodism. A full time legislator must feel the need to show that they are worth their full time Salary of $95,291 a year. It’s more important to feel good than to actually do what the constitution requires them to do. Pass a budget.

    Is there a reason we need to enact HUNDREDS of pieces of legislation EVERY year? Don’t you think over the course of 150 years, previous legislators might have addressed most of these issues already? It is specious, at best, to assume that we have that many issues to address in a year.

    A simple search of the California Legislature website using the “Bill Finder Tool” for the 2009 – 2010 session with just the search term “California” yields 5286 bills as a result. YOU are paying for this folly.

    Why not this:
    A part time legislature, with the appropriate reduction in salary.
    Reduce Legislator per diem to cover meals only. Address the reduction in per diem by providing:
    Dormitory housing near the capitol while they are in session.
    A private bus line between the Dorms and the Capitol Building.
    Two Year Budgeting
    Banning all termed out Legislators from being appointed to any paid position on a State Board or Commission for two years after leaving office.
    Eliminate all paid State Board or Commission members, save for one paid Board Chairperson – all other Board or Commission members are unpaid volunteers, with a full per diem.
    Until a budget is passed, no other bill may be proposed, debated, or allowed into committee, unless a finding of emergency is agreed upon by two thirds of both the Assembly and the Senate.

    We have real problems, requiring the urgent attention of our legislature. We don’t only have a budget deficit, but a legislature with Attention Deficit. The Annual Budget is a constitutional requirement of the office.
    If you were the employer of these people, and found them behaving like this instead of doing their jobs, wouldn’t you fire them?

    News Flash: You ARE their employer.

    Governor Schwarzenegger campaigned during the recall election on “blowing up boxes”. Six years later, it’s probably time to get to work on it.

    The California Economy and the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge: An apt simile

    The California Economy and the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge: An apt simile

    On Tuesday October 27, 2009 a section of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge that  had been repaired in September failed, causing minor damage and massive traffic congestion. Normal traffic on the Bay Bridge is maddening at best, but try tacking a couple of hours on to your commute home on a cold and windy Tuesday evening.

    The initial repair was completed during a scheduled closure of the Bay Bridge over Labor Day weekend, as workers slid a piece of replacement span into place. Massive repairs, and a brand new span of the Bay Bridge are being readied for service. It really is an incredible display of engineering, and amazing efforts by the contractors. However, they discovered a cracked tie rod, that supports a section of the supporting cable on the eastern span of the bridge. Crisis!

    A workable replacement was fashioned, and installed, only delaying the re-opening a few hours into the Tuesday morning comute. Pretty good work actually. The repair was was deemed ‘stronger that the orginal!’

    As I looked at the photos posted online Tuesday night, one in particular from the San Francisco Chronicle struck me. It was traffic I had seen before, notably in the aftermath of the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, but honestly, Bay Area traffic looks likes this all the time.

    But this photo told a story. Therein lies the political, and therefore, economic, tale of California.

    We found a problem.

    Its uber scary.

    We found a way to fix it at the last moment.

    With a great deal of inconvenience.

    Aren’t we clever!

    A miracle!

    Better than evah!

    Crisis averted!

    Your salvation is at hand! Look upon us and prostrate yourselves at our feet, for the good that we have done unto you.

    All better!

    Within 8 weeks:

    Oh no! Its broken!

    Worse than evah!

    Woe is us.

    Crisis!

    Lather, rinse, repeat.

    Often, a picture really is worth a thousand words.

    Photo by Noah Berger / San Francisco Chronicle
    Photo by Noah Berger / San Francisco Chronicle
    Proclamation of the Bear Flag Revolt

    Proclamation of the Bear Flag Revolt

    800px-flag_of_californiasvg

    How soon we forget:

    To all persons, citizens of Sonoma, requesting them to remain at peace, and to follow their rightful occupations without fear of molestation.

    The Commander in Chief of the Troops assembled at the Fortress of Sonoma gives his inviolable pledge to all persons in California not found under arms that they shall not be disturbed in their persons, their property or social relations one to another by men under his command.

    He also solemnly declares his object to be First, to defend himself and companions in arms who were invited to this country by a promise of Lands on which to settle themselves and families who were also promised a “republican government,” who, when having arrived in California were denied even the privilege of buying or renting Lands of their friends, who instead of being allowed to participate in or being protected by a “Republican Government” were oppressed by a “Military Despotism,” who were even threatened, by “Proclamation” from the Chief Officer of the aforesaid Despotism, with extermination if they would not depart our of the Country, leaving all of their property, their arms and beasts of burden, and thus deprived of the means of flight or defense. We were to be driven through deserts, inhabited by hostile Indians to certain destruction. To overthrow a Government which has seized upon the property of the Missions for its individual aggrandizement; which has ruined and shamefully oppressed the laboring people of California, by their enormous exactions on goods imported into this country; is the determined purpose of the brave men who are associated under his command.

    He also solemnly declares his object in the Second place to be to invite all peaceable and good Citizens of California who are friendly to the maintenance of good order and equal rights (and I do hereby invite them to repair to my camp at Sonoma without delay) to assist us in establishing and perpetuating a “Republican Government” which shall secure to all: civil and religious liberty; which shall detect and punish crime; which shall encourage industry, virtue and literature; which shall leave unshackled by Fetters, Commerce, Agriculture, and Mechanism.

    He further declares that he relies upon the rectitude of our intentions; the favor of Heaven and the bravery of those who are bound to and associated with him, by the principle of self preservation; by the love of truth; and by the hatred of tyranny for his hopes of success.

    He further declares that he believes that a Government to be prosperous and happyfying in its tendency must originate with its people who are friendly to its existence. That its Citizens are its Guardians, its officers are its Servants, and its Glory their reward.

    William B. Ide, Head Quarters Sonoma, June 15, 1846

    firstbearflag

    John Garamendi: The Running Man

    John Garamendi: The Running Man

    Just a quick summary of the offices California Lt. Governor John Garamendi has run for since 1974:

    Garamendi: The Running Man

    74 CA State Assembly

    76 -88 CA State Senate

    82 CA Governor

    86 CA State Controller

    90 CA Insurance Commissioner

    94 CA Governor

    02 CA Insurance Commissioner

    06 CA Lt. Governor

    08 CA Governor (2010 election)

    09  US Congress CA 10th (To fill open congressional seat vacated by Ellen Tauscher)

    As Supreme Chancellor (and eventual Emperor and Dark Lord) Palpatine poinently frames it in Star Wars Episode III Revenge Of The Sith:

    “POWER! UNLIMITED POWER!”

    All the pertinent details can be found here

    THIS is what is wrong with your government.

    Well, this and Lawyers.

    Always Lawyers.