Tag Archives: California

Car break-ins

Mayor: “Sometimes accountability means community service”

On June 7, 2022, San Francisco voters recalled their District Attorney, Chesa Boudin. It might be tempting for law-and-order supporters to think that Boudin’s ouster marks a shift towards more meaningful crime prevention. However, a broader view of San Francisco residents’ sentiments seems to augur crime as usual.

The visibility of crime

Crime is a visible blight in San Francisco. Shop lifters walk out of stores with bags full of stolen merchandise, public drug use is everywhere, sidewalks serve as sleeping quarters and toilets. Cars are not safe from break-ins for long. The scenario is not surprising since candidate for DA Chesa Boudin made clear during his candidacy that he would not prosecute low-level and quality-of-life crimes.

Voters grew weary of this scenario. They tired of the stories daily in the media about the revolving door the DA’s office had become – criminals arrested, released, committing more crime, arrested again, released again.

On June 7, what San Francisco residents saw and experienced took precedence over the arguments made by Boudin and his supporters: Reform is necessary to root out racial bias that fills American prisons with people of color. Reform takes time, and results are not as visible as crime. There are other alternatives to holding people accountable besides incarceration.

This comment summarizes the outcome of the recall election:

People are happy to be progressive and happy to be anti-racist as long as their bike doesn’t get stolen, or they don’t watch a viral video of a theft at Walgreens. Once that happens, or they feel vulnerable in some way, they throw out the high-minded ideals that made them vote for a reformer. Lara Bazelon, University of San Francisco law professor, as quoted in The Atlantic, “Why California Wants to Recall Its Most Progressive Prosecutors”, April 28, 2022.

The fleeting nature of recalls

As Professor Bazelon indicates in the quote above, in a recall, voters can vote to oust officials for whom they voted in the first place. It’s like buyer’s remorse. Unfortunately, buyers’ remorse is often instantly forgotten when another well-advertised impractical item appears in the store window. On the same ballot that San Francisco voters voted to recall Chesa Boudin, they also helped elect another criminal justice reformer, Rob Bonta, for state Attorney General.

Criminal justice reform as embraced by Boudin and his compatriots is very much still on the table in San Francisco. Here are some quotes uttered soon after the DA’s recall.

This election does not mean that San Francisco has drifted to the far right on our approach to criminal justice. In fact, San Francisco has been a national beacon for progressive criminal justice reform for decades and will continue to do so with new leadership. Mary Jung, recall campaign chair, as quoted in The Crime Report, “California Remains National Beacon for Justice Reform”, June 8, 2022.

We insist that the next San Francisco district attorney pursue reform, reduce incarceration, hold police accountable when they break the law, and root out racial bias in the criminal justice system. ACLU of Northern California, Press Release, June 8, 2022.

…to be clear, sometimes accountability means rehab. Sometimes accountability means community service. It is not just about law and order and tough on crime and locking people up and throwing away the key … It’s about accountability when those lines are crossed and coming to a reasonable conclusion around justice and what that really means for, in some cases, not just the perpetrator but the people who fall victim to those crimes. Mayor London Breed, as quoted in S.F. Standard, “Mayor Breed Weighs In on DA Recall”, June 8, 2022

Let’s let that sink in: “… coming to a reasonable conclusion around justice and what that really means for, in some cases, not just the perpetrator but the people who fall victim to those crimes.”

Whose job is it anyway?

Reformers are correct that the American criminal justice system needs a good deal of improvement. It makes no sense that, according to what is known, American prisons house more people than any other country in the world. It does make sense that root causes of crime must figure in crime prevention.

However, reform is not the job of district attorneys (or judges). The job of DA’s is to protect residents from falling victims of crime using tools provided by law.

The job of criminal justice reform belongs to legislators. As long as legislators continue to pass counter-productive laws riddled with consequences detrimental to the very communities they are purportedly attempting to help, the causes of crime will remain. Think American job losses due to minimum wage, offshoring, automation, climate change regulation, formation of monopolies and conglomerates enabled by fiat money. Think legislation with embedded disincentives to throw off the shackles of dependence, to reject coddling in schools and jobs in the name of “equity,” to learn job skills in school instead of rhetoric.

The best thing district attorneys can do is keep to their knitting under the law. That does not mean they cannot, like every citizen can, encourage legislators to quit passing counter-productive legislation.

Whether that could possibly happen in San Francisco will become more clear once Mayor London Breed appoints the City’s interim DA.

Leaves Turning Brown

California Emptyin’

Thank you to Steve Frank, publisher of California Political News & Views, for publishing my adieu to California. In October 2021, my family and I joined the exodus out of a state we once loved and once offered so many opportunities for work and growth. A misguided political class that rose to power in the early 1990s has chased away the middle class, invited in the billionaires, and blanketed the streets with the homeless.

Those of us who bailed out are not looking back. Those who chose to stay behind have one more choice to make: fight for a return to sanity or slowly descend into irrelevance.

Marcy Berry
Just Vote No Editor

________________________________

California Emptyin’

Some of us are old enough to remember the Mamas and the Papas’ iconic hit California Dreamin’.

All the leaves are brown
And the sky is gray
I’ve been for a walk
On a winter’s day
I’d be safe and warm
If I was in L.A.
California dreamin’
On such a winter’s d
ay

There was a time when people did dream of coming to California. There was a time when L.A. was safe. But today, California is experiencing it’s own kind of winter’s day. There is less of California dreamin’ and more of California emptyin’.

Today the middle class – the backbone of America’s economy – is choosing brown leaves and wintry days over California’s nightmare of inordinate living costs, back-breaking taxes, endless restrictions, miserable schools, homelessness, and unsightly streets.

As I look out of the window of my new home in North Carolina, I see loads of brown leaves. I have already felt a couple of days of bone-chilling breezes, and I have been advised to purchase some heavy winter clothes. And I have met several California ex-pats who are happy to be here and are not looking back. We are the middle class. We are the workers on the ground. And we are leaving California.

The California political class is either amazingly brilliant or abysmally dull on the head. If their aim is to grow and cement inordinate power by methodically obliterating their constituents’ individual rights, they are doing a magnificent job. If they are hoping to maintain California’s stature as having an impressive production of goods and services, they are, as the saying goes, not all there.

Either way, though, the picture is not pretty. Either way, the state will disintegrate as other jurisdictions from Rome to Detroit have in the past.

This is the time to choose: bail out, roll up your sleeves and fight, or quietly descend into irrelevance.

Our family chose to bail out of California. But we have not chosen to stop fighting for the survival of the Republic our Founding Fathers envisioned.

We send you best wishes.

Los Angeles Skid Row

Guaranteed Income: California’s Next Horizon

Guaranteed income pilot programs are emerging throughout the state of California. The programs differ in who is selected and how much recipients get. None have strings attached.

The concept of a guaranteed income gained publicity during the 2020 elections, when presidential contender Andrew Yang made it a central part of his campaign. In California, additional exposure came from Michael Tubbs, who founded Mayors for a Guaranteed Income in June 2020, a coalition that advocates implementation of guaranteed income trials.

Three Sample Guaranteed Income Programs

Michael Tubbs, when mayor of the City of Stockton implemented one of the first guaranteed income pilot programs in the state, with great fanfare and a lot of private donations. The program gave $500 a month to 125 selected low-income residents and ran for two years (February 2019 to January 2021).

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaff launched her pilot guaranteed income program in March 2021. The privately-funded program will give low-income families $500 per month, for 18 months. Families selected are of color, in an effort to close the racial wealth gap.

On April 19, 2021, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, proposed a $24 million tax-payer funded one-year guaranteed income pilot program. The program will give $1,000 per month to 2,000 low-income families adversely affected by Covid-19.

The Selling Points

A guaranteed income, with no strings attached, given in addition to established public assistance programs takes aggressive selling in some communities. In Stockton, for example, Mayor Tubbs was not re-elected in spite of accomplishments. His defeat was in part (there were other adverse circumstances) because some of his constituents were not ready for agendas as progressive as a guaranteed income.

The promotional efforts are convincing, but debatable in some regards. Here is a sample of the press California’s guaranteed income programs have received, followed by clarifications that might be helpful.

  • “The idea of the government providing poor residents with some basic level of income has been floated by a number of prominent people over the years, including civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., libertarian economist Milton Friedman and Republican President Richard Nixon.” L.A. could soon become the largest city in the U.S. to offer guaranteed income for poor residents.” L.A. could soon become the largest city in the U.S. to offer guaranteed income for poor residents, Fortune, April 19, 2021.

Martin Luther King criticized the existing welfare system as fragmented and designed to affect root causes of poverty, not mitigate poverty itself. He did propose a guaranteed income as remedy. However, his plan came with strings attached. Government needed to create “social good” jobs for individuals who the market economy left behind. Dr. King’s plan, therefore, differs from the current “no strings” proposals.

Milton Friedman proposed a negative income tax, not a guaranteed basic income. Under Friedman’s plan, people file their tax returns, and depending on their income level, they either pay taxes or receive cash from the government. Also, Friedman’s plan was intended to replace existing welfare programs not supplement them. Today’s guaranteed income plans require nothing of recipients and supporters intend to avoid cannibalizing other public assistance programs.

Richard Nixon introduced in 1969 The Family Assistance Program (FAP), which aimed to implement a negative income tax that would benefit working parents with household incomes under a certain level. Unlike today’s guaranteed income proposals, FAP had a work requirement that applied to most recipients (there were exceptions to mothers with small children at home). The proposal passed the House of Representatives, but failed in the Senate.

  • “There’s a number of ways to pay for guaranteed income, from a sovereign wealth fund in which citizens benefit from shared national resources like the Alaska Permanent Fund, to bringing tax rates on the wealthiest Americans to their 20th century historical averages.” Mayors for a Guaranteed Income

Alaska’s principal source of revenue is crude oil. Residents receive an “oil dividend” from a natural resource that theoretically belongs to all residents. It might be difficult for California to come up with a comparable natural resource dividend.

California already has one of the highest tax rates in the nation. Several large employers have recently left California citing high taxes and high costs, among them California icons like Hewlett-Packard and Tesla. Texas and Arizona are among low or no-tax states that are happy to welcome California’s wealthy expatriates.

An objective of Mayors for a Guaranteed Income and others is to establish a federal guaranteed income program. The federal government can print copious amounts of money, redistribute revenue from low-spending to high-spending states, and does not need constituents’ approval to raise taxes. The only catch is that residents of low-spending states might not be happy with this plan.

  • Preliminary analysis of Stockton’s guaranteed income program: “Results gathered from the first year, which spanned February of 2019 to February of 2020, found recipients obtained full-time employment at more than twice the rate of non-recipients. Recipients were less anxious and depressed, both over time and compared to the control group … Recipients had a greater ability to pay for unexpected expenses …” University of Tennessee, College of Social Work, March 5, 2021.

“Asian/Pacific Islanders and homeowners comprised a larger share of the debit-card recipients than of the control group , which could have biased the results…The study’s small sample and reliance on self-reported outcomes are bigger problems. It’s difficult to assess a statistically significant effect on employment among such a small group over a one-year period—from Feb. 2019 to Feb. 2020—especially given high labor-market turnover among lower earners.” Universal Basic Income Hype, Wall Street Journal, March 22, 2021.

Conclusion

The highly-promoted Stockton experiment is serving as a catalyst for the proliferation of guaranteed income trials in California. However, it is difficult to see how a study of 125 folks, among them homeowners, can apply to California’s large population of low or no-income residents.

The state of California has a poverty rate of 11% compared to lower-poverty states like New Hampshire at 4.9%. Also, California has the third largest rate of homelessness of all states in the U.S. (after New York and Hawaii).

Guaranteed income programs in California will prove expensive. Local and state jurisdictions will have difficulty finding sources of cash. The federal government, with its ability to create debt, would be a reasonable source, but would low-spending states be willing to subsidize high-spending states?

Lyndon Johnson’s expensive Great Society sounded wonderful, but nothing really got fixed. It will be worth carefully reading the fine print on guaranteed income programs.

Governor Newsom’s Recall Turns Real

What started as a Quixotic effort to remove California Governor Gavin Newsom from office, has now turned serious. The Recall Gavin Newsom campaign has gathered as of the beginning of March 2021, 1.9 million signatures. California requires 1.5 million signatures for the recall to appear on the ballot. Looks like there are almost 2 million folks that are past their tolerance point for Newsom.

What has this once popular California governor done to deserve such fate? Is he so much worse than other progressive governors? Probably not.

However, constituents have grown skeptical of Newsom’s incessant swagger about California being an economic powerhouse as homeless tents pop up everywhere, public pensions become unsustainable, and California’s middle class dwindles. Workers are tired of being thrown out of jobs, first by legislation that strangles small businesses, and presently by lockdowns. Parents of public school children are seeing their children fall behind in their education as Newsom’s children attend in-person instruction in private school.

Such disregard for the common people has marked Gavin Newsom as the quintessential establishment elite – someone who conceives a self-serving vision of what people need and proceeds to impose the vision on the populace regardless of realities. The Recall is a reaction to Newsom’s perceived elitism as much as it is an attempt to put an end to his misguided policies.

The Recall Gavin Newsom campaign claims 80,000 grassroots volunteers that can be relied upon to waive signs and collect recall signatures. Campaign organizers say they have raised almost $4 million, mostly from wealthy donors within California, but some also from Nevada ($29,250), Kansas ($26,000), Texas ($20,100), and Arizona ($6,525). Interestingly, San Francisco – solidly Democrat and committedly progressive – stands second after Irvine in Newsome Recall donations.

The litany of Newsom failures listed on the Recall document include the following:

  • Housing unaffordable to the middle class
  • Exploding homelessness
  • Rising crime
  • Failing public schools
  • Harassment of independent contractors
  • Unsustainable public pension debt
  • Infringement of 2nd Amendment rights
  • Sanctuary laws that fail to screen out criminals
  • High taxes
  • Poor water management
  • A dysfunctional Employment Development Departments
  • Extreme overreach in dealing with Covid-19
  • Public schools closed for nearly a year
  • Inability to control teachers union refusal to resume in-person teaching.
  • A last straw occurred when Newsom and his wife were caught dining with lobbyists at the posh French Laundry eatery after he recommended that his constituents dine alone on Thanksgiving.

The establishment elite – not to be confused with the merely rich — operate by rules that grow without regard to what the populace want or need. For example, the Recall document mentions Assembly Bill 5, which assumes everyone wants to be an employee rather than an independent contractor, thus ruining the livelihood of many happily self employed workers.

The establishment elite do not seem to notice that often there is a discrepancy between what they mandate and what they do, as exemplified by Newsom’s French Laundry incident.

Thus, Gavin Newsom’s image stands as dubious as his policies, and a recall election to give voters a chance to weigh in on how seriously they take this matter is warranted.

In Defense of the Governor’s Partying While We Dine Alone

California Governor Gavin Newsom has issued numerous directives, instructions and guidelines regarding COVID-19, all describing in great detail what residents of the state can and cannot do. One activity specifically verboten is partying indoors by members of several households. One suggestion especially idiosyncratic is wearing a mask while dining — admittedly a difficult scenario to visualize, leaving one to feel obliged to wear a mask between bites.

Therefore, California residents were justifiably confused when news broke that Governor Newsom on November 6, attended a dinner, along with several other guests, in celebration of the birthday of lobbyist Jason Kinney. The venue was the elite Napa Valley restaurant French Laundry.

Enter U.S. Congressman for California’s 4th District, Tom McClintock, a conservative Republican whose libertarian streak is known to liberty-loving communities. On November 19, on the House floor, Congressman McClintock delivered a speech in defense of Governor Newsom’s maskless cozy dinner.

The speech is must-read

Mr. Speaker:

I rise this morning in defense of Governor Gavin Newsom who recently defied his own idiotic Covid edicts as he partied at one of the few restaurants that he has not yet forced out of business. I defend him because he was doing what we all once did in a free society: make our own decisions over what risks we are willing to run and what precautions we are willing to take according to our own circumstances to protect our own health.

Yes, Covid is a nasty bug and a quarter of a million Americans have died while having it. But this isn’t the Bubonic Plague. The CDC’s best estimate is that if you are under 49, your chance for surviving Covid – it you get it – is 99.92 percent. Even for those over 70 the survival rate is 94.6 percent.

Forty percent who get it don’t even know they have it. Yet we have allowed our officials to ruin our quality of life over it – destroying countless businesses, throwing tens of millions into unemployment, robbing our children of their educations and shredding our most cherished rights as Americans.

Governor Newsom’s night of partying should be a wake-up call to every American.

Every time we step outside our homes, the risks we face multiply. A free society assumes that its citizens are competent to assess those risks, balance them against the avoidance costs, and to manage their decisions in a generally responsible way. It’s called common sense, and it’s a necessary prerequisite for self-government and liberty.

The choices of an octogenarian with emphysema might be very different from those of a healthy governor in California. Only a fool would claim the omniscience to make an informed judgment for every person in every circumstance in every community. Sadly, this crisis has revealed that fools abound in public office and that a fool with power can quickly become a petty tyrant.

Which brings us back to Governor Newsom. These government nannies love to tell us that they’re just following the science. What does the science tell us? It tells us that Covid poses virtually no risk to children but can be severe among the elderly. So, what did these lockdown leftists do? They closed all the schools and ordered infected patients into nursing homes!

The science tells us that outdoor transmissions of the virus are extremely rare and that 80 percent of infections occur in people’s homes. So what did these lockdown leftists do? They closed our beaches, parks and campgrounds and ordered people to stay at home!

The science tells us that obesity is a contributing factor to the severity of the disease. So what did these lockdown leftists do? They closed all the gyms and kept the liquor stores open!

These lockdowns haven’t saved lives. The states with the most stringent lockdowns generally have the highest mortality rates from Covid. Utah stayed open while next door, Colorado shut down. Utah currently has half the Covid mortality rate and 3/4 the unemployment rate as Colorado. But the lockdowns have cost countless lives from suicides, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, and deferred health screenings and treatments.

Recently, Governor Newsom demanded that restaurant diners replace their masks after every bite, but also minimize the times they take them off. I guess that means take very big bites. Thanksgiving dinners are allowed in California, but only when they are held outside, guests are seated six feet apart, and they last no more than two hours. It’s all right to use the bathroom, but only if it is frequently sanitized. Otherwise, presumably you’ll just have to use the bushes. And for God’s sake – NO SINGING!

I have wondered how much longer the American people are going to tolerate this nonsense?

So let us not criticize Governor Newsom. Perhaps he has just offered us all deliverance from his own folly.

Nor should we criticize the California legislators who ignored travel and quarantine restrictions to junket to Hawaii. Nor should we ridicule Speaker Pelosi for choosing not to wear a mask in a hair salon that was forced to close for the rest of us.

Good for them. They’re demonstrating by their own actions the freedom that every American citizen needs to reclaim from these very same people. The governor SHOULD make his own decisions about running his own life. I only ask that he and his ilk would stop telling the rest of us how to run ours.

Rule Makers Need Not Be Inconvenienced

Congressman McClintock touched upon a truth that must not be ignored. Politicians often belong to elite circles that thrive in the acquisition of power. Their default modus operandi is “For your own safety and the safety of your neighbors, follow my rules.” There is no covenant that the rule maker follow those same rules. Power grows as constituents are rendered increasingly fearful and receptive to obedience in exchange for perceived protection. Rule makers need not be inconvenienced.

(Featured picture posted by Fox News)

Taxes Disguised as Fees Raiding Your Pockets

The California Supreme Court accepted for review on October 14, 2020, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association vs. Bay Area Toll Authority. Those who recall the 2018 epic battle pro and con Regional Measure 3 (RM3), which raised bridge tolls by $3, might not be surprised.

The Court granted and held the HJTA case pending disposition of a similar case, Zolly v. City of Oakland. So, it will be a while.

The basic issue with RM3 is whether it is a fee – as supporters claim – or a tax — as opponents point out. RM3 passed with 55% voter approval. Article XIII, Section 3 of the California Constitution requires two thirds approval for passage of a tax.

Article XIII, Section 3 is the Constitutional Amendment approved by voters November 2010 as Proposition 26. Prop 26 was intended to put a break on the proliferation of taxes and fees emptying the pockets of California residents.

Difference Between a Tax and A Fee

Article XIII, Section 3 says any charge is a tax except what the Section specifically says is a fee:

“(b) As used in this section, “tax” means any levy, charge, or exaction of any kind imposed by the State, except the following:

(1) A charge imposed for a specific benefit conferred or privilege granted directly to the payor that is not provided to those not charged, and which does not exceed the reasonable costs to the State of conferring the benefit or granting the privilege to the payor.

(2) A charge imposed for a specific government service or product provided directly to the payor that is not provided to those not charged, and which does not exceed the reasonable costs to the State of providing the service or product to the payor.

(3) A charge imposed for the reasonable regulatory costs to the State incident to issuing licenses and permits, performing investigations, inspections, and audits, enforcing agricultural marketing orders, and the administrative enforcement and adjudication thereof.

(4) A charge imposed for entrance to or use of state property, or the purchase, rental, or lease of state property, except charges governed by Section 15 of Article XI.

(5) A fine, penalty, or other monetary charge imposed by the judicial branch of government or the State, as a result of a violation of law. “

(Article XI, Section 15, of the California Constitution refers to “revenues derived from taxes imposed pursuant to the Vehicle License Fee Law.”)

The Problem With RM3

Regional Measure 3 exacts a charge to motorists crossing the Bay Area’s State-owned bridges. But revenues derived from that charge are not limited to benefiting motorists by building highways or fixing potholes. The bulk of RM3 revenues benefits users of other modes of transportation, like public transit riders, bicyclists, and walkers.

RM3 is intended to fund a wide variety of improvements to Bay Area mobility. Therefore, the measures’ charge to motorists exceeds the cost of benefits received by motorists.

The use of revenues derived from RM3 make the measure clearly a tax, according to Clauses 1) and 2) of Section 3, Article XIII.

Proponents’ Argument

What argument could proponents of Regional Measure 3 make in view of Clauses 1) and 2)?

Aside from arguments that amount to we want the money, proponents argue that RM3 falls under Clause 4), a charge to enter or use state-owned property. They also argue that Clause 4) is not subject to the relationship of charge to payer vs. benefit to payer as are Clauses 1) and 2). Clause 4) does not have the wording on charge vs. benefit that Clauses 1) and 2) have.

Enter Zolly vs. City of Oakland

Robert Zolly, owner of an Oakland apartment building, joined two other small-property landlords in suing the City of Oakland. The lawsuit claims that the city’s fee for hauling garbage far exceeds the cost of hauling said garbage. Indeed it does, because the haulers’ franchise costs are included in the garbage-collecting fee. A portion representing the haulers’ franchise pass through is placed in Oakland’s general fund to cover expenses not related to garbage collection.

The Court sees a comparison between using garbage-hauling fees to fund general city services, and using bridge tolls to fund public transit and other modes of mobility. A strict adherence to Article XIII, Section 3 would render such use of funds unconstitutional.

Bigger Issues

Regional Measure 3 is the brainchild of the Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). MTC is an agency easy to dislike. Its commissioners are appointed, not elected. However, MTC’s power to determine the destiny of the San Francisco Bay Area keeps growing.

Although MTC is a transportation agency, it is deeply involved in housing policy. Its Committee to House the Bay Area (CASA) has been a powerful influence behind state and local legislation dealing with evictions, rent caps, rent assistance, and other housing-related mandates.

There is a crucial difference between Regional Measure 3 and Measures 1 and 2. RM3 carried a mandate that all nine Bay Area Counties had to place RM3 on their ballots whether they liked it or not, and passage was based on votes aggregated from all nine counties. More of this strategy should be expected, as indicated by plans to place Faster Bay Area on a future ballot. RM3 contributed to the ongoing blurring of what a legal voters’ jurisdiction is supposed to be.

Your Pockets Are At Peril

There are pitfalls inherent in the kind of “regional planning” exemplified by RM3. If the Court sides with RM3 proponents, extracting money from Bay Area residents will become a lot easier. Proposals for tax increases disguised as fees will rain upon all our heads.

SF Bay Area: Pitch Dark at Noon!

Here in California things are getting “curiouser and curiouser.” Like Alice falling through the rabbit hole and facing the challenges of Wonderland. On Wednesday, September 9, 2020, things in the San Francisco Bay Area got really curiouser.

“Oh my”, we all said when we woke up. “Where is the sun?” Still by noontime, the skies were darker than eventide – except for a fearsome reddish-orange glow. “The fires,” we all said.

“The fires,” we say in somber tones. Climate change, and it’s all our fault.

Maybe those dark skies might also be related to poor forest management, but who knows. All we know is maybe next come the locusts.

The San Francisco Chronicle carried great pictures of the event. Worth seeing. One of the pictures is featured here.

There are Two Californias: Why Pretend there is Only One?

Scales of justice

In California, residents of the coastal cities are different from those who live inland. There is a similar divide between people who live in coastal states and people who live in inland states. Do these two factions enjoy equal say?

Inland states, less populous than coastal states, enjoy equal say in the U.S. Senate, where all states are represented by an equal number of Senators. However, residents of inland California have zero say, since the California Senate structure is based on population, exactly the same as the California Assembly. The needs of inland Californians might be entirely different from those of coastal Californians, but the inland people must live under rules developed and approved by the populous coastal people.

It was not always that way. At one time California operated under the U.S. Senate model, and all its Senatorial districts were represented by an equal number of state Senators. In those days farmers in the Central Valley had a change to compete with their big-city brethren.

That all changed in 1964 when an activist U.S. Supreme Court under the leadership of “Living Constitution” advocate Earl Warrant, declared in Reynolds vs. Sims that all state Senate seats needed to be allocated based on population.

One of the first things the newly empowered big-city folks did was to change the California Legislature from part time to full time. That happened in 1966. A full-time legislature is usually defined as one that meets throughout the year, while a part-time legislature meets for a portion of the year. For reference, today we have 10 full time state legislatures out of 50.

1966 marked the birth of the professional California politician, without other means of support, who keeps recycling through the state’s political system. It started the exponential growth in the volume of bills micromanaging every nook and cranny to be found. Staff, salaries, benefits, taxes, fees all grew as well.

For those readers interested in the first part of the new reality – Reynolds vs Sims, and the resulting neglect of farmers in the Central Valley – here is a link to an article in the California Political News & Views. Note that in his introduction to the article, publisher Steve Frank, mentions the ruinous results of California moving to a full-time legislature:  All California is Not Alike.

Would Even Bigger Government Fix California?

Big Government

The California Secretary of State cleared for signature gathering voters’ initiative 19-0012, that would do the following if passed:

* Replace the current partisan bicameral legislature with a non-partisan unicameral one.

* Increase the number of legislators from 40 State Senators and 80 Assembly Members to 250 legislators intended to represent by 2024 80,000 to 100,000 persons for each legislator.

* According to the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, if passed this initiative would incur a one-time cost of hundreds of millions of dollars to expand the State Capitol in Sacramento to accommodate the new legislators, incur ongoing increased building maintenance costs of a few million dollars annually, and incur state costs of millions of dollars per year to oversee elections.

What are the Real Changes?

The substantive changes this initiative if passed would implement would be,

* A significant growth in government.

* A significant growth in legislators writing laws to govern California residents.

* A significant growth in costs, and thus presumably taxpayer obligations.

Can the Changes Accomplish Objectives?

Whether this initiative would accomplish its objectives might be questionable.

* There would be no change in California’s proportional representation based on population. Thus, the populous coastal areas would continue to dominate sparsely-populated inland areas.

* The hope that much smaller districts would afford residents better control of their representatives might be a consummation devoutly to be wished.

Representatives Without Representation

This Nation was born over the rallying cry “Taxation Without Representation!” Today perhaps the rallying cry should be “Representatives Without Representation!”

The Just Vote No Blog has often noted a new trend: Ideological legislators whose actions are based on what they believe is needed from their point of view, not based on what their constituents need or want.

We are not speaking here about unconstitutional proposals, which legislators should indeed reject. We are talking about ordinary things described in the Just Vote No Article Who Are California Legislators Working For?

Government Growth is Not The Solution But the Problem

Whether smaller districts at significantly increased costs would change the present ideological bent of legislators is something voters need to think about when considering increasing the size of our legislature.

Our Founding Fathers advocated a lean Federal government that focused on specific enumerated obligations.  They did not opine on how states should govern, as long as states operated withing the bounds of the Federal Constitution.

California’s government is anything but lean.  The volume of laws and regulations attempting to control every aspect of California residents’ lives is mind boggling.  Could residents in a smaller district control such a tsunami?

BART Considers Free Tickets to Remedy Dwindling Ridership

News from the San Francisco Bay Area’s rapid transit system is that ridership off-peak hours and weekends is dwindling, which impacts the BART District’s financial bottom line. In response BART is considering targeting that ridership with free and discounted promotional tickets, as well as a means-based ticket program.

Such response from marketing professionals is often routine. However, such response from BART is bizarre.

49% of people who responded to BART’s survey question “Why not ride BART on Weekends?” indicated concern about crime on BART (26%) and homelessness on BART (23%). There appears to be no follow up question whether if tickets were free potential riders would ignore these concerns, even if they could imagine the possibility of more homeless people and more people bent on crime also taking advantage of free rides.

BART ridership 2

BART Board Meeting February 13, 2020: Rebuilding Ridership

35% of respondents to the question “Why not Commute on BART?” indicated stations were too far from where the respondents lived. Would free tickets overcome that concern, even when BART officials eye removing “park & ride” spaces to get commuters out of their private vehicles, and even when there might not be viable ways for BART riders to reach stations other than by personal vehicle?BART survey

BART Board Meeting February 13, 2020:  Rebuilding Ridership

BART is not alone as a transit agency in its loss of revenue, but it serves as example of ravages inflicted by a cluster of intractable problems plaguing California:

* High costs of construction, operations and personnel leave little room for services such as providing sufficient security guards to ensure safety and custodians to ensure cleanliness.

* Astronomical housing costs that force people to move as far into suburbs as California’s stringent urban boundaries rules allow, where principal transit lines do not reach and local transit is scarce or non-existent.

* Large and growing numbers of homeless individuals that seek shelter in transit stations and ride public transit, especially during off-peak hours.

Homelessness is particularly problematic. Numbers are so large that they affect all social and economic sectors. Although BART finances are precarious, the agency can no longer focus on delivering effective transportation riders would be pleased to use. BART is now expected to divert resources away from transportation and toward dealing with homeless – and often mentally and emotionally impaired – individuals in stations and trains.

California officials fondly envision the death of the personal vehicle and the birth of a regional transit network serving Bay Area residents. At present, such vision falls under the category of cognitive dissonance.