Republican State Assemblyman Jeff Gorell recently returned from a year of active-duty with the military, stationed in Afghanistan. Yesterday was his first day back in the State Capitol since his departure in March of 2011…. I have penned this letter to the Assemblyman to welcome him home…
Dear Assemblyman Gorell:
Welcome back from your tour of duty in Afghanistan. We all know that freedom is in fact not free at all. Many people past, present and future put their lives at risk to defend this amazing country — you are one of those people, and for that you are owed a debt of gratitude from the rest of us who have not served in the Armed Forces. I also want to thank your wife and children for their sacrifice — to be without a husband, or a dad, for a year is no small thing!
I wish that I could tell you that while you were away, that the Democrats and their public employee union allies who control the politics in California have figured out how get our state government in good order — but I am afraid things are, well, exactly where they were when you left…
Well, except that while you were fighting abroad to preserve our liberty and freedom, the Democrats passed even more bills while you were gone infringing on those same rights which you have fought to preserve (for example, since you left it has become illegal for an employer to actually use someone’s credit report as a factor in hiring — but I digress).
Perhaps the best way to make my point to you, Jeff, about how nothing has changed while you were gone, we should look back to the headlines the week of March 13 of last year, the week that your office put out a press release announcing you were being called up and deployed for a year…
- George Skelton penned a column about Governor Brown working hard to put taxes on the ballot (the Governor was blaming you and your GOP colleagues for being sticks in the mud). Fast forward to today and the Governor is still working hard to place a tax increase on the ballot, and still blaming Republicans.
- Also on that week your colleague, Jim Nielsen, penned a column for the Sacramento Bee warning of the high public safety risk of the Governor’s “Realignment” efforts. Unfortunately, over the objections of Republicans, those policies were approved and California is a less-safe place to live, work and recreate. Jerry Brown is still pushing this as good public policy.
- Larry Higby, the head of the New Majority GOP donor organization called for an end to the insanity in Sacramento — yet none of the concerns he brought up in his Orange County Register oped have been addresses or changed.
- The Los Angeles Times featured an article talking about the legislature moving the Presidential primary back to June — that happened. And today Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee talks about how had we not done that, we might have actually had a say in at least the GOP contest.
- The Riverside Press Enterprise editorialized about the crisis facing local governments because of the increased costs of retiree health care. Need I say more? The public employee unions have ensured that nothing at all has been done to reduce unfunded retiree and healthcare benefits since you left. Not that Republicans haven’t tried. In fact earlier this year Republicans authored a series of modest pension reforms that were actually proposed by the Governor. Of course the unions have locked those bills need in a closed somewhere.
- Heck, Timm Herdt penned a column in your local paper, the Ventura County Star, saying that legislators needed to go to “reform school” because they just couldn’t wrap their arms around real pension reform.
- Tracy Woods at the Voice of Orange County non-profit news page wrote about problems facing high speed rail in California. Lord knows we are still dealing with that boondoggle as you return.
- Oh, and on the state budget — headlines were rampant before you left about budget chaos and dysfunction. This year, just prior to your return, Senate and Assembly Dems passed a few dozen empty budget bills in order to prepare for another last-minute, out of the public’s eye, back budget package. See? Same old stuff.
This isn’t directly related to Sacramento, but it telling nonetheless of more local news — the week you left, the San Luis Obispo Tribune editorialized against a new city ordinance to require all residents to “shield from view” their trash can except on trash pick up days — seriously. In today’s SLO Tribune, the lead editorial is criticizing the city who is now going to start to apply fines for the aforementioned “exposed” garbage cans.
According to the Sacramento Bee, yesterday you had the opportunity to address the State Assembly and you said, among other things, “Let’s get back to work.”
Unfortunately, the problem is not that the Democrats in that building have not been working. Oh no, they have been hard at work doing what they do best. Working to increase government revenues by taxation or through fees, and heaping new regulatory burdens on businesses large and small.
Perhaps what you should have said when at the rostrum, should have been to stop working.
In the meantime, I recommend that you not get too comfortable back in your old chair. 2012 is shaping up to be an important year in California elections. The only way we are going to see hard work pay off in the way you would like, Assemblyman, is if come January there are more Republicans serving by your side. This will only happen if folks like yourself are out on the stump, raising money, given speeches, and motivating volunteers.
Welcome home, Jeff!