– Governor Jerry Brown is 100% correct. OK, I had better qualify that. On the issue of actually abolishing redevelopment agencies in California, the Governor and I agree. RDAs aren’t in need of reform, they are poor public policy by their very nature. Clearing aside the plethora of examples of abuse that are rampant with RDAs, at their core they represent a gross manipulation of the free market, and put local politicians in position of choosing winners and losers.
– The starting gun is officially fired in the race for Mayor of San Diego. Up to this point, people have talked about it, but San Diego City Elections Code prohibits fundraising for the office until one year out – which was yesterday. Of course the normal campaign finance reporting period ends at the end of the month — which creates a fun-to-watch (and expensive if you are a donor) fundraising-palooza for June. San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio made his bid official yesterday, and Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher announces his candidacy today.
– Does it seem odd to you that an organization called Californians Against Higher Taxes seems to have gone out of its way, while opposing a number of proposed tax increases in the Capitol, to stay completely silent on Governor Brown’s proposed increases in the state’s sales, income and car taxes — which would be the largest tax increase in state history? I checked, and the URL CaliforniansAgainstSomeHigherTaxes.com is still available…
– The California Citizens Redistricting Commission is getting close to releasing a first set of Commission-approved maps with boundaries for the state’s 53 Congressional Districts, 40 State Senate Districts and 80 Assembly Districts. Last week, staff-generated maps — suggestions as it were — to the Commission were posted on the official Commission website. These “first drafts” have sent California’s political community into a furor of analysis and prognostication.
– In order for a Redevelopment Agency (read: local City Council) to start playing “SimCity” with property, manipulating the use of private property to its preferred ends, it must first declare such property blighted. Predictably, local politicians have so liberally defined what constitutes “blight” that it is enough to make you nauseous. Read about the latest scandal here.
– There seems to be agreement from just about everyone that briefly released but completely downloaded and well distributed staff-level first-draft maps are going to see a lot of changes by this Commission before they are final. This may be disappointing to those politicians who saw themselves drawn that perfect district, and may provide some beacon of hope for those who saw a foreshadowing of the end of their political careers.
– The “first draft” lines were apparently produced by the controversial Karin MacDonald of Q2 Data and Research, who is closely associated with causes dear to the political left. Out of the gate, as a consultant trying to control the commission’s outcomes, her drafts throw out of the window the mandate that two Assembly Districts be perfectly nested into on State Senate seat. This is no surprise, as she was co-author of a 2007 Study panning nesting as a mere convenience, but harmful to the goal of drawing seats based on racial criteria.
– Best quote of the week past goes to Mark Standriff at the State GOP: “When asked about the PPIC poll results yesterday, Jerry [Brown] declared them ‘hard to interpret’ — to a group of reporters who were able to interpret them at a glance; the public wants a vote on taxes, so that they can vote against them.”
– It is clear to me from the feedback that I received from Republican legislators from my recent column critical of redevelopment agencies that there are more than just a few Republican legislators who are in total agreement that RDAs need to be abolished, not somehow made “less bad” — thus I am optimistic that if bipartisanship is to rear itself in the Capitol this month for anything, it may be for this cause (though admittedly those on the left seek the same outcome for a different reason). Politics makes strange bedfellows, they say.
– There is no better demonstration of the complete control that public employee unions have on the legislature than the passage out of the Assembly (on a party line vote) of Assembly Bill 438 by Das Williams, a Democrat from Santa Barbara. This legislature prevents local governments from contracting out the running of libraries. Seriously. It does so by putting such restrictions so as to make the contracting out no longer worthwhile. My favorite — the local government must ensure that the public employees don’t lose their jobs. Hello? The reason for contracting out is to reduce the number of expensive public employees.
– By the way, someone should direct Assemblyman Das Williams over to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition for privatize. I’ll help (in case he is reading this column), it says, to change from public to private control or ownership. Contracting out work by a government agency is not privatization (and shame on the lazy press corps for letting Williams get loose with his rhetoric). To privatize a library would not be hiring non-government employees to work in it, it would be to actually sell the library to a private company or person.
– Prop. 25 was terrible ballot measure, in part, because of its fiat that if the legislature does not pass a budget on time, legislators do not get paid. I said this last year and I will say it again — no legislator should be forced to choose between paying their mortgage or rent, and voting for a budget they think is bad for California. I don’t care if you are a liberal or a conservative legislator, creating that kind of personal conflict is inappropriate.