This afternoon I read a statement that State Senator Dave Cogdill plans on retiring from the legislature at the end of his first term in the legislature’s upper chamber, I contemplated what I wanted to say. And decided to think about it for a little while.
Let me start this way. I’ve known Senator Cogdill for some years now. While not a close friend, I have known him to be an honorable person, and someone who is dedicated to the ideas of liberty and freedom for Californians. I have found that you can tell a lot about the character of a legislator by the staff that they hire, and the loyalty engendered to that legislator by the people in their organization. Chuck Hahn, Erin Guerero, Sabrina Lockhart, and for his time as leader, Ron Rogers are all people whom I respect greatly and it speaks volumes about Cogdill that these people have all been or continue to be a part of "Team Cogdill" — not to mention the other great people whom i just don’t know or know as well.
That said, I have to admit that my relations with the Senator pretty much flat-lined surrounding last February’s terrible budget deal. I "get it" that Senator Cogdill did what he felt was in the best interests of the people of California when he, as the Republican Leader, negotiated and ultimately supported a budget deal that included not only an immediate two-plus year increase in state sales, income and car taxes (with a project hit of $16+ billion – making it the largest single tax increase ever for any state) but also launched onto the ballot a set of ill-advised ballot measures that included an extension of those same tax increases for two more years.
It would be fair to say that i was blown-away when this proposal came out of budget negotiations given that Cogdill along with Assemblyman Mike Villines, up until the time of the "deal", were forceful and articulate in every possible way (including many editorials on this website) about how tax increases were off of the table.
The conclusion that I came to was that the Big 5 process itself is fatally flawed. It is almost strategically designed to take principled ideologues and wear then down to the point of physical and emotionally exhaustion, and as happened in February, led Californians to a higher tax burden, and to the tragic circumstance of honorable men such as Cogdill and Villines to have to be forever marred as people who broke their pledge to oppose higher taxes on the people they were elected to represent.
I am sad to have seen a flawed political system in Sacramento that took in a strong conservative and chewed him up to the point where he somehow became an advocate of higher taxes as some sort of necessary evil.
I admire the Senator’s dedication to finding a water policy solution for California. While I think that the solution that he ultimately convinced his colleagues to place before voters spends way more than is necessary, and has too many projects of regional concern (aka PORC) — it does represent sincerity on Cogdill’s part to try and resolve a project that has hit the constituents of his Central Valley district harder than most.
I wish the Senator well. I view him as a good man whose time as leader of Senate Republicans resulted in a political and policy tragedy. For his part voters are just a little more cynical about the promise of Republicans to stop their taxes from going up.
Governor Schwarzenegger has said that he might appoint Senator Cogdill to serve out the unexpired remainder of John Garamendi’s term as Lt. Governor. As choices go, Schwarzenegger could do a lot worse (Abel Maldonado) assuming he wants to tap someone that supported the February budget deal.