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Jon Fleischman

Some random thoughts on the passing California political scene…

There are a great many politicians waiting to see what the new political boundaries will be for our federal and state legislative seats.  The two Congressional delegation members who are clearly the most prepared, financially, to fend off any potential interlopers (read: neighboring Members of Congress who may want to run in the same district as them) are Orange County Republican Ed Royce, whose war chest is sitting at over $2.5 million, and Democrat Brad Sherman of the San Fernando Valley who has stockpiled over $3 million bucks in his re-election kitty.  Royce is likely to see a North and East Orange County seat that will be very well suited for his him, though neighboring Reps. David Dreier and Gary Miller may be a tad jealous — and in need of seats.  Sherman’s challenge is that his currently-quite-gerrymandered seat is likely to become populating with many more Latino voters, which may invite a “healthy discussion” over whether Sherman is still the “right fit” for the district.  No matter what, Royce and Sherman are well armed in the currency of politics – campaign cash.

There is currently legislation churning through the Capitol that, if passed and signed into law, would allow someone who goes through surgery to change their sex, to have their Certificate of Birth changed to reflect the new plumbing (or lack thereof).  Seems to me that Allergan should get someone to sponsor a bill that would allow someone who uses enough Botox to be able to change their year of birth, officially making themselves younger.

I am no expert in state labor contracts, but the recent deal struck between the administration of Governor Jerry Brown and the California Correctional Peace Officers Association seems to be a head scratcher.  Just the revelation that, buried deep in the two-hundred plus page document is a provision that would take away the limit on the maximum number of sick days that a guard can accrue, leaving a situation where you could see guards retiring with massive cash-pay outs, is mind boggling.  Given the recession that is hitting everyone hard, it’s not really clear to me why there would be any concessions given in such a contract, let alone an egregious policy such as this one.

A colleague of mine on the Orange County Republican Party Central Committee, Marilyn Davenport, a grandmother in her 70’s, sent around an email to people where President Obama’s face was superimposed over that of a Chimpanzee.  Seriously.  I was shocked to find that there are people who are more concerned about how the Obama/Chimpanzee email found its way to a media outlet than they were about the fact that an elected Republican official would send it in the first place.  The response from Orange County GOP Chairman was immediate and strong, denouncing the e-mail as racist, and calling on the committee member who sent it to resign — which she refuses to do, and there is no mechanism short of an expensive recall election to remove her.

There is a saying, “personnel is policy” — which really is underscored based on the information that has been made available about the CCPOA contract.  The Director of Personnel Administration for the State of California is the primary negotiator between the state and the various public employee union bargaining groups, including state prison guards.  It should not be lost on anyone that Brown plucked his pick for this post, labor law attorney Ronald Yank of the firm Carroll, Burdick & McDonough.  What did Yank do before accepting this key appointment from Governor Brown?  Oh yes, he as a labor negotiator representing the CCPOA…  You can’t make this stuff up.

One of the pioneers of the modern conservative movement, William A. Rusher, past away last weekend — he was 87 years old.  Rusher, who was for a generation at the right hand of William F. Buckley, Jr., and who served as the longtime publisher of National Review magazine was a soft spoken, intellectual man who had a very Forrest Gump-like trait of being on-hand for most of the major moments that have shaped and defined conservatism since the 1950’s.

If I were in the legislature, I would be prepared to vote for a budget that includes no new taxes.  The problem is that Democrats in the legislature are pretty much a wholly owned subsidiary of public employee unions.  That means that Democrats will never put up a responsible “all cuts” budget to garner my ersatz vote, one that really pares down the size and scope of state government.  Instead, Democrats will “gimmick” their way through to next June and pray to whatever Gods they think will get a tax increase passed then.  In the meantime, while they never put up their own budget that spends only available tax revenues, they will attack Republicans for not putting up their own budget, pretending for the hell of it that they actually aren’t the majority party in a post-Prop. 25 legislature.

While Bill Rusher spent most of his life back East, he spend a good many of his later years as a resident of San Francisco, where I had many opportunities to visit with him, both to enjoy the magnificent views of the San Francisco Bay from his Nob Hill condominium, but also to enjoy some amazing meals with in (SF has no shortage of fine dining options).  By far, though, our most meaningful times together and our deepest conversations were held walking around Huntington Park near his home.  I’ll never forget him telling me one time, pausing between puffs of his cigar, “Jon, do you know why I love this park so much?  Because all of the homeless people that are attracted to San Francisco because of its generous social programs are too lazy to climb to the top of Nob Hill.”

Last weekend the venerable California Republican Assembly held its annual convention in Sacramento, where appointed President Celeste Greig was elected to a full two year term.  To say that the convention was controversial would be an understatement.  Fellow FlashReport Blogger and also fellow CRA Past President Mike Spence observed that more delegates were disqualified at the convention than at every other convention he has attended in two decades, combined.  I used to be proud of being the President of CRA who presided over the infamous 1995 CRA Presidential endorsing convention where the forces of Patrick Buchanan, Alan Keyes and Phil Gramm battled it out so long we ended up moving the convention to the parking lot of the Oakland Hilton (where I presided from the top of a ladder, using a bullhorn).  This latest convention’s antics, complete with police officers being brought into the hotel, will now supplant that ’95 event as the most controversial CRA convention in recent memory.  A dubious honor for Greig, who now has to channel Humpty Dumpty and start collecting pieces…