Tuesday, September 7, 2010

California--Curioser And Curioser

Right now, Democrats are "running away" from Barack Obama in droves. Democrats hiding from a Democratic President. Here in California, we always do things differently. In the Golden State, the Republican candidate for governor is running away from the current Republican governor. There is one similarity, though. Like those Democrats, Republican Meg Whitman is running away from the governor because he's just too damned liberal.

Candidate Whitman is running on the concept that a government should be run like a successful business, not like an ATM. She is the type of Republican who will probably do very well in the general election in November, since she fits in with the majority in a state that overall tends to be moderate to liberal on social issues but looking for a sensible fiscal conservative to drag California back from the financial abyss. She's no movement conservative, nor is she a RINO. But next to the Governator, she looks like Calvin Coolidge.

Whitman has vowed to take on the unions, most particularly the fat public employees unions. She wants to cut taxes, but is even more adamant about cutting state expenses. She wants to see decent environmental concerns addressed without bankrupting and starving the state's major industries. She's only a very light shade of green, and that's in part from being around all that nice green money. While Schwarzenegger was busy ginning up green projects, making internal combustion engines into demons and pronouncing the advent of hydrogen-powered automobiles some time in this century while billing the taxpayers for them now, Whitman says that people must come before theoretical pollution control.

But the big break in the party came when Whitman announced that California can dig itself out of its budget hole by cracking down on waste, fraud and abuse in state spending. She has proposed a statewide grand jury that would investigate and indict those who have "fleeced the state treasury for billions of dollars. A key factor accounting for the massive overspending and continuing budget deficits is state government's failure to police itself well. A statewide grand jury would supply the real enforcement mechanism now lacking in state agencies and county grand juries."

Considering that she is implying at least criminal negligence, and that many of the spending disasters come from the governor's office, the Governator has decided not to endorse a candidate in the general election. In an ordinary year, the refusal of a Republican governor to endorse his proposed Republican successor would be a very bad thing. This year, not so much. It's not just that there is a strong opposition to tax and spend officials, but Republicans add enthusiasm to the mixture at the poll level by wanting to take a slap at Schwarzenegger for what they consider to be his surrender to the Democrats and various other liberals, most particularly the public sector unions and green weenies.

The Central Valley, once the breadbasket for half the western world, is blowing away with the wind because of the lack of water caused by the cutoff of supplies occasioned by the protection of a fish that serves no known purpose in the ecological scheme of things. Schwarzenegger announced that he supported the farmers and agricultural workers, but did absolutely nothing to help them get the eco-freaks off their backs and out of their lives. While other states have been actively defying the federal government, Schwarzenegger has essentially thrown his hands in the air in an attitude of "vot can I do?"

Yet somehow, "energy" funds seem to get spent at a breathtaking pace, and Whitman is demanding to know why. Her critics (most of them from Attorney General and Democrat gubernatorial candidate Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown's office) are asking what a statewide grand jury could do that county grand juries can't do. Whitman isn't a lawyer, but she plays one on the campaign trail. And she plays one rather well. That question is both naive and disingenuous. Statewide grand juries are not subject to the influence, partisanship and good-old-boy coziness of county grand juries. Business as usual isn't usually statewide business. Local fiefdoms merely perpetuate the "I got mine, up yours" attitude.

Scott Thorpe, executive director of the California District Attorney's Association, says that the statewide grand jury would be California's "only prosecuting authority that wasn't elected by the people," as if that's a bad thing. Thorpe plays on the tough prosecutor image held by the average voter, neglecting to mention that District Attorneys and their staffs are public employees participating at least in part in the waste Whitman wants to investigate.

In reply, Whitman spokesman Darrel Ng replied that the persistence of fraud shows that the current system doesn't work and that it's time to try something new. Says Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco, "A state grand jury would have a broader perspective than local prosecutors and would tackle cases that are slipping through the system. There is fraud on a statewide level. People are not concentrating on it, and there is no mechanism to handle it."

Jerry Brown's office offered that they had filed a record 165 criminal charges against Medi-Cal providers in 2009 recovering over $200 million in twelve months. Whitman replied that it was about time, now what about the $18.9 billion that appears to have been mis-spent through malfeasance and/or misfeasance since 2000? That includes a $1.25 billion program in state education which failed to improve test scores, more billions in fraud in welfare and workers' compensation, and even a $3 to $4 billion cost overrun for San Francisco Bay Bridge reconstruction.

Whitman has also called for a reduction in state employees by 40,000 state jobs. Jerry Brown is more concerned about how many people would be employed by the investigative grand jury, naturally. I can't give you a figure myself, but I suspect the answer is "a lot fewer than 40,000." Brown has no plan, but says he'll cut governmental inefficiency (not by criminal investigations, apparently) by "bringing all sides together and not raising taxes without voter approval." Interestingly, Brown also supports an initiative to reduce the number of votes required to pass tax increases and bond measures.

Schwarzenegger, meanwhile, seems to think he can solve all the state budget problems by targeting the growing program of domestic care for the low-income elderly and disabled. He hasn't noticed that a thorough investigation along those lines showed that overpayments, fraudulent or negligent, comprised at most 1% of the total payments. While Schwarzenegger dithers and chases the home-helpers and Brown says to "come now and reason together," Whitman says: "We're going to put in great systems, we're going to find that waste, fraud and abuse, we're going to convene a grand jury, and if you rip off the taxpayers of California, we're going to send you to jail."

Lord, I hope we have enough jails.


21 comments:

Benito said...

The Republicans are so funny, when the economy is good you say let’s all celebrate “Cinco de Mayo, my brothers” but when the economy is down “it’s all your fault, you damn immigrant”. When most Americans (with Latin America roots) go to the polls this November we will remember that the GOP has gone on a nationwide rant in proposing and passing several anti-immigration legislation (that our US Courts continue to strike down) and have continue to blame the immigrant for the flat economy or worse. We will remember who stands with us and who stands against us, so trying to stop it now is somewhat funny, but go ahead, you will not change our minds. Plus the more radical of the GOP are now attacking our Constitution and our Bill of Rights, in a misguided attempt to garner some much needed votes, they really are fools, and leading the GOP towards obscurity because they are no longer a party of ideas, just of empty suits. Your hate made you do it, in November; you will reap what you have sown. I wonder what Abraham Lincoln would say about todays GOP, he unlike the current GOP was a man of ideas.

AndrewPrice said...

Yawn. . . another self deluded leftist. You people really need psychological help Benito.

LL said...

I'm not a big fan of Whitman, but when fmr. Gov. Moonbeam is the alternative, I'll vote for Whitman.

Having participated in both blue ribbon grand juries and accusatory grand juries when I worked for the Orange County (CA) District Attorney's Office, I found that they were fair and balanced, even though the grand jurors were nominate by Superior Court Judges.

That notwithstanding, I think that you need several state grand juries to handle the workload that Whitman outlines -- and it's a good idea to take things that route.

BevfromNYC said...

Hey, if Whitman does what she says she'll do about routing out "waste, fraud, and abuse" those 40K layoffs could be made through 40K incarcerations and spur job growth in the Prison industry! Win-win for everyone.

Tennessee Jed said...

Kahl-ee-fourn-ee-yah. I expect it to do the wrong thing, but remain hopeful. For Benito, isn't Cinquo-de-mayo a fake holiday dreamed up by a beer company?

Tam said...

I guess I missed the "it's all your fault you damn immigrant" rant in this post. But then again, I'm blinded by racism.

LawHawkRFD said...

Benito: Welcome. Always glad to have a delusional knee-jerk DailyKos talking-points liberal join us.

I suppose I should add that my lifelong best friend and both my sons-in-law are of Mexican descent, and they don't like illegals any more than I do. I realize that doesn't fit into your preconceived notion that anyone who believes in national borders is automatically a white racist and a bigot.

Thanks for playing.

LawHawkRFD said...

LL: My ex used to be a criminalist in the Orange County crime lab, and I spent more than a few hours litigating in Orange County courts (usually Santa Ana).

I don't have a strong opinion on just how deep or fraudulent the state spending has been, but a statewide grand jury might just be able to tell us.

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: If you lived in California, I'd nominate you for State Controller.

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: It seems to me that the only ethnic person I made fun of in this article was Schwarzenegger, and as a kraut myself, I'm allowed to do that. As for the rest of the article, it seems to me I was talking about Meg Whitman, grand juries and fraudulent spending. Unless my memory has failed me entirely, I never mentioned anything about immigration, so maybe Benito was reading something else at the time and had a brain fart.

LawHawkRFD said...

Tam: I wrote the bloody thing, and I don't remember anything about "damn immigrants." Maybe Benito has some ability to read subliminal messages in any article he disagrees with.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: Now, now. We must be kind to our delusional brethren. Remember, it was Gov. Jerry Moonbeam Brown who released all the cuckoos from the state hospitals for the insane. He needed the votes.

Di said...

Fiscal responsibility is the issue that I am most concerned about at this time - on every level from city to federal. Candidates who see that as a key issue and who have concrete, sensible plans to deal with the irresponsibility (or fraud) that has been happening will get my vote. Benito, trust me, I can't wait for the reaping in November.

StanH said...

Lawhawk did you have a subliminal message in your piece, that activated the droids at Huffpo, what the hell is Benito responding too…sheesh.

I’ve watched Meg Whittman for many years on various financial shows, very sharp and very deliberate, I hope she can bring sanity to the mess that is California, for your benefit brother..

LawHawkRFD said...

Di: I couldn't agree more. We can have all the initiatives, movements and culture wars imaginable, but nothing good or bad is going to get accomplished when a government is bankrupt and solving the problem by going even deeper into debt. Whitman appears to be a bit more socially liberal than I am, but not by much. But at least she is making sound common sense on the economy.

California has been a leader in what the nation would do later for more than half a century. The federal government has followed California into the financial depths. If Whitman wins, and keeps her promise, perhaps California can lead the nation in recovery, thereby demonstrating what needs to be done in 2012.

LawHawkRFD said...

Stan: Yes, I am the new Svengali. I will steal your soul and your mind by appearing to be discussing one thing when I am actually lulling you into a false sense of security by subliminally convincing you of something entirely different. Every word I say (or write) is actually code. LOL

Joel Farnham said...

LawHawk,

So, it looks like the California electorate is trying to wake up from it's collective liberal hangover and reaching for Advil and bicarbonate. Hopefully, you have the vomit bags ready on November 3rd. I think you are going to need it for your liberal bretheren, especially the reality-challenged Benito.

I see that more and more the Dems are floating every little thing they can in the hopes of forestalling disaster.

I read somewhere that Whitman and Fiorina are going to open the water spigots. Did they promise that?

LawHawkRFD said...

Joel: California is not going to overcome its torpor completely overnight. But the signs are there. It wasn't that long ago that moderate/conservative Republicans held the governor's mansion, the State Assembly and were tied in the State Senate. The welfare and sanctuary cities have been the tail that wagged the dog for far too long. The Central Valley and the cow counties are awakening to their potential as Los Angeles and San Francisco slip into decay and rampant crime. The suburbs are also awakening to the damage that so-called green technology is causing, particularly the near-destruction of the state's agriculture because of a useless fish.

And in answer to your specific question, both Whitman and Fiorina have made the Central Valley government-induced drought an issue in their campaigns. Though neither has outright challenged the EPA and the California eco-freaks, both have said that there is no reason that the State cannot find a way to keep the green weenies happy while opening the spigots.

Patti said...

oh my, a TROLL! and here's me all underdressed and with no pie to offer!

LawHawkRFD said...

Patti: I've been waiting all this time for you to rescue me from the troll. Well, better late than never. LOL

Patti said...

law: i've had a few on my site and they ALWAYS ending up pooping themselves. just like a troll to stank up the joint...

and sorry i was delayed. next time i'll clobber 'em for you early. but clearly you don't need my help as andrew pooped ben early and HARD. that had to leave a mark...

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