Memo to the Governor: “All politics are still local”

Mike Madrid
Partner at GrassrootsLab, and a nationally recognized expert on Latino voting trends. In 2001, named one of America's "Most Influential Hispanics" by Hispanic Business Magazine.

Governor Brown stepped into one heckuva political firestorm with his proposal to eliminate redevelopment in California. Days before being sworn in, the Governor’s office floated a trial balloon to check the temperature of local city council members and mayors on taking their communities job creating money to solve the states ongoing financial mess.

He found their temperature boiling.

Duh.

The Governors office made a tactical error on two fronts: first he pushed cities to obligate redevelopment monies immediately – which effectively took them off the table for the state to grab and balance his budget, but second and even more importantly he may have alienated the most important constituency he needs to get the state back on track as well as the cornerstone of his budget fix done – mayors and council members.

It doesn’t take a genius to see that it will be impossible to sell a tax extension to voters on the premise that it’s good for local government when mayors and council members up and down the state oppose it.

That’s a non-starter. Dead on arrival. Has about as good a chance of winning as the state legislature has of seeing positive approval ratings sometime this decade.

Which, by the way is exactly why the proposal is so backwards from both a policy and political perspective. It’s a Rube Goldberg contraption that could only have been conjured up as a solution in Sacramento. Who else but the state government could contrive an idea that claims to give more money and decision making to local governments by taking more money and decision making from local governments?

Governor, even that isn’t close enough for government work.

Set aside the clearly poor policy direction this presents. Ignore for a moment that this would snuff out the last and final job creating engine in the state.

Pretend not to notice, if you will, that the best means of achieving the environmentally friendly standards he champions under SB 375 can only be accomplished through redevelopment.

Refuse, if you will, to see the reduction in crime – the increase in skilled construction jobs, the enhancement in our quality of life, the revitalization of communities and the building of affordable housing.

Set all of that aside and It’s just bad politics. It violates the sacred tenant of politics 101 – all politics is local. Candidate Jerry Brown even had empowering local governments as one of the three planks in his campaign platform. One would think that if your agenda was to work with and empower local governments over the next four years, you wouldn’t alienate those same people you need to make that work as your first act as the new Governor.

In one fell swoop Governor Brown angered mayors and council members, employers and businesses of all sizes, union workers, environmentalists, community based organizations, affordable housing advocates and the poor people they serve.

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