I have a request of the people of California. Show up for
one of Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget town halls – and say something that isn’t the
same old nonsense.

Brown’s latest, at a high school in the Santa Clarity
Valley, was a pointless and predictable affair. Each speaker rose to say
something utterly predictable that sought to shift the blame – to whomever they
don’t like.

There was the teachers’ union guy, hitting all the talking
points about the cuts that have come, and demanding that the legislature take action
on school funding, even though the union’s own formula helps tie the
legislature’s hand on school funding.

The angry student stood up and demanded to know why legislators’
salaries and benefits haven’t been cut, when they already have been.

The local talk show host/business guy stood up to say that
Brown was ignoring the real problem – the illegal immigrants that are costing
the state $16 billion a year, a powerful figure plucked from his imagination.

A community college board member, a Republican, stood up and
repeated the moderate GOP talking points – that he’d vote for a tax extension
if it came with a bunch of reforms that don’t do much to help balance the

Up on the dais, a legislator and a statewide elected
official smiled and introduced themselves, in hopes that someone in the
audience might still remember their names at dinner time, which was just three
hours away.

Local government officials, joining the state folks, said
they are for realignment and local democracy – and are willing to take control
of local spending programs as long as the state guarantees them money with a
constitutional amendment that will limit democratically leaders in the future.

Presiding was the smart governor saying smart things – about
the rising costs of corrections, about the rising cost of higher education,
about the difficulties of bipartisan agreement. But he never said anything
about how he intends to fix the broken budget system.

I got in the car for the drive to LA. Hotel California was
on the radio.

"We are all just prisoners here, of our own device."