Storming the Bastille

Yesterday was Bastille Day. The legendary French holiday that commemorates citizens rising up against their oppressive leaders. In fact, it was just before the height of this French revolution in 1789 that Marie Antoinette uttered that famous phrase heard ‘round the world, “Let them eat cake!” A phrase which resembles the attitude in Sacramento all too often.

And so, as the California Legislature winds down its legislative session this week before summer break, this day forces me to reflect back on the storming of our own Bastille that has led us to this day.

One cannot ignore that impact that the last two years of ‘rousing Tea Party activity and Taxpayer activism has had on our state capitol building. Beginning in the Spring of 2009 and continuing through this day in 2011, the citizenry of California made it loud and clear what they wanted: no new taxes.

Prior to our own storming of the Bastille in 2009, we had witnessed Tax increases and members of both parties selling out on Taxes. Mistrust abounded. We even witnessed a Republican Governor back a ballot initiative for a $16 billion tax increase. The world couldn’t have been more upside-down.

It’s Christmas in California

It’s only June, but it sure seems like Christmas morning with the state’s Citizens Redistricting Commission dropping new maps into stockings all over California today.

While the full impact on the GOP won’t be known for a few days (or a few months, if you believe the Commission that this is only a “first draft”), interesting races are emerging. Aside from a lump of coal or two delivered to coastal GOP State Senate districts, there are two new interesting districts in Southern California yielding fresh GOP blood that will prove to be particularly exciting.

South Bay – Los Angeles

The first is the newly-drawn district across the South Bay communities of Los Angeles. You may remember Nathan Mintz, the South Bay Tea Party founder and dynamic twenty-something aerospace engineer who ran a respectable campaign against the far-left’s trial attorney lobbyist Betsy Butler last fall. While Nathan fell short of victory in that matchup, he came closer to winning than any candidate in recent history – by a long shot. (In case you were wondering, the last Republican to run in that district won approximately zero precincts.) And today, it’s a whole new ballgame.

Is California the new Afghanistan?

Every time I turn on the news and hear how
"un-governable" Afghanistan is, I can’t help but think of the similarities
between that far-flung country and our own beloved, dysfunctional state of
California.  The similarities are striking, from their most basic level to
their more complex political geography.

Think about it.

In Afghanistan, poppy is the #1 export.

In California, poppy is the State flower.

According to the History Channel, Osama Bin Laden had
a wealthy powerful father but believed he should sleep on a mattress on the
floor every night.

According to the Capitol press corps, Jerry Brown had
a wealthy powerful father but believed he should sleep on a mattress on the
floor every night.

Taxpayers Take to the Airwaves

The May Revise may have just gotten underway, but taxfighters have come out swinging against Governor Jerry Brown and his Union friends.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association announced today it has made a Statewide radio buy urging Californians to reject the Governor’s plan for massive tax increases. While it’s not unusual for organizations to take to the airwaves, it is unusual this early in a season that doesn’t yet have a special election on the calendar. A sign that Brown may have one heck of an uphill fight ahead of him.

The radio spot highlights the state of California’s status as “worst” in a variety of categories – “worst place to do business” in America, among the worst tax climates, worst housing market, worst jobless rate, and more. The ad also highlights Governor Brown’s billion-dollar sweetheart deal with the prison guards’ union earlier this month, which has taxpayer advocates fuming.

Hasta La Vista, Austerity

So much
for austerity.

In his
first billion-dollar giveaway that places Union bosses ahead of struggling
taxpayers, Governor Jerry Brown shows in deed that it’s business as usual at
the Capitol these days.

Monday, the Senate is scheduled to vote on Senate Bill (SB) 151 – the quickest
giveaway of taxpayer dollars to a political ally that I can remember in recent

In a
deal between Governor Jerry Brown and the prison guards’ Union in California
last week, Brown agreed to a contract that removes the limit of vacation days
and other days off that prison guards can "cash in" on when they retire – all
at their highest rate of pay. We’re talking big money here. Nearly a billion
dollars. Now, I know that prison guards work hard. In fact, I’ve been on a tour
to one of their facilities with a candidate, and I appreciate their keeping us
safe despite a skirmish in the yard. But come on. Under the current system,
prison guards are already entitled to eight weeks of vacation annually. I know
of no other employee (hard worker or not) who has that much time off, outside
of maybe France.

Carpe Per Diem

As Governor Brown searches the State budget for programs to cut, I would like to suggest an area that merits a hard look.

The State Senate took advantage of a Friday “check-in session” prior to the 3-day holiday weekend. Most folks in Sacramento know that a “check-in session” occurs on days when the Legislature doesn’t normally meet (such as Tuesdays and Wednesdays), and on a rare occasion such as a critical budget vote when Legislators may need to stick around in case they are needed. Fair enough.

The problem is, “check-in sessions” today have become nothing more than another gimmick through which politicians line their pockets at the taxpayers’ expense.

Case in point: Legislators weren’t needed last Friday, but they “checked in” anyway. Members of the State Senate signed in with a clerk, met for less than 10 minutes, and pocketed nearly $600 in per diem – money that covered their living expenses, meals, and incidentals for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday’s Martin Luther King holiday – days they weren’t even working.

Time to Put the Brakes on Cars for Legislators

You’ve heard of government programs before. The U.N.’s “Oil for Food” Program, to name one government-subsidized program for the truly needy.

Does a Legislator qualify as a truly needy soul?

There is one program operating right here in California that I call “Cars for Legislators” which, despite criticism, is still guzzling up hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer funds every year. Governor Brown was right last week to take away the cell phones of non-essential State workers in order to save the state $20 Million; Governor Brown ought to put the brakes on cars for Legislators as well.

The SacBee’s Patrick McGreevy reported over the weekend that “newly-elected Luis Alejo, a Democrat, is taking delivery of a 2011 Ford Escape Hybrid, worth $37,269.” And the Democrats aren’t alone. Tim Donnelly, one of the Assembly’s most conservative new members – and a Tea Party darling at that – just took delivery of a brand-spankin’ new Ford Edge. (Don’t even get me started on Cathleen Galgiani’s new Ford Mustang — the visual there is just too much.)

Madam Chairwoman? Carly Fiorina reportedly eyeing CRP Chair

Rumors are swirling about town that former U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina is eyeing a run for Chairwoman of the California Republican Party.

Matt Cunningham broke the story in Red County, suggesting that he would back Fiorina if she decides to run.

Make no mistake: if Carly runs, it’s a game-changer. Even the mere speculation of a run reminds one that perhaps we haven’t been thinking “big enough” in our quest to rebuild the Republican Party.

But early reactions are proving that Vice Chairman Tom Del Beccaro’s service may not be able to be brushed aside so quickly. Right or wrong, the Republican Party on both the State and National level historically rewards those who have “paid their dues” and worked their way through the ranks (read: Mitt Romney 2012). To that end, Del Beccaro has worked tirelessly to make “Conservative” cool again and has been at the forefront of a movement making its return – even if the Statewide party fell short at the ballot box in November. (In all fairness, the responsibility didn’t rest on his shoulders full stop; he wasn’t the lead dog in that sled race.)

First Evidence that “Green Jobs” were a White Lie

Didn’t the opponents of California’s Proposition 23 promise there would be a Green jobs revolution if they got their way?

Just one day after environmental advocates achieved victory in protecting their $140-billion Energy Tax at the ballot box, one of California’s prominent solar companies announced plans to close its solar panel factory and lay off workers in California. According to Todd Woody at the New York Times, that’s not all. The Silicon Valley solar company also declared they will cancel plans for further expansion to a second, new facility in California.

Wait, weren’t we supposed to become the perfect market for Green jobs?

The Devil You Know

As Democrats swept all Statewide seats last night (with the exception of one still being counted as of publication time), Republicans were left stunned wondering what went wrong. While the experts’ final analysis will no doubt emerge in the coming days, I think it can be boiled down to one simple sentiment: Voters went with the devil they know.

How else can you explain why voters elected to Governor a career politician who has been in politics for 40 years? How else can you explain that voters heard repeatedly in the final days leading up to Election that the former Governor “lights out” Gray Davis was heading up a Jerry Brown transition team – yet they still cast a vote for Jerry Brown?

It’s the devil they know.

You cannot underestimate a human being’s fear of the unknown. It’s why people stay in jobs they hate. It’s why the abused woman stays with her abuser. Fear of the unknown.