Monday, April 18, 2011

California Lawmakers' Cars Stolen

Well, not exactly "stolen." The California Citizens Compensation Commission (aka the Ebenezer Scrooge Commission) had the nerve to take away the legislators' perk of driving a state-purchased car (i.e. taxpayer-purchased car). The moans and groans from Sacramento could be heard all the way down here in Caliente (300 miles, as the buzzard flies).

The move is designed to save $2.3 million over five years. That's known as "a teaspoon of water in the Pacific Ocean." But it's something, I suppose. Currently, each legislator's car costs the California taxpayer $7,300 per year. But the legislators won't have to walk to work. Each qualifying solon will be given a $300 per month automobile allowance instead, which is about half of what the taxpayers are now shelling out.

In a magnificent statement of the obvious, Commission member and former chairman Charles Murray said: "We're broke. You have to cut money somewhere." That is gross understatement. California needs to cut money everywhere. Still, one small step for a legislator, one giant step for the taxpayers. Even the minor admission that the Assembly and Senate members are grossly overpaid for sinking California's economy is more than we have gotten in decades. Murray is the former chairman because Governor Moonbeam Brown replaced businessman Murray with Thomas Dalzell, manager of a San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union. Surprise, surprise.

Dalzell immediately announced that he had spoken with state attorneys who had determined that the Commission had no authority over cars. Well, those are state attorneys who are also feeding at the public trough. Did you expect them to understand that "free cars" are a form of compensation that the Commission does have authority over, Mr. Chairman? Apparently those state attorneys haven't read either the California or federal tax codes. What next, Mr. Chairman? Bring in the ACLU to sue for violation of their constitutional right to have a free car?

So should we feel sorry for the poor benighted legislators? Let's take a look at the horror the Commission has already placed upon them. In 2009, ordinary California legislators had their base salary cut from $116,208 to $95,291. Legislative leaders went from $133,639 to $109,584. Wow! The poverty must be devastating! Never mind that most of these fiddlers with the public's money are independently wealthy and there is no restriction on outside income. In Pennsylvania and New York, the ordinary legislator is paid around $79,500 or about $16,000 less than their California counterparts after the wage cut.

The reaction from the bigwigs was predictable. Speaker of the State Assembly John Perez (D-Los Angeles) said that the move makes it harder for lawmakers to travel to and in their districts to connect with constituents. Huh? Does he expect us to believe he drives from Sacramento to his district in Los Angeles? Remember how far it is from Sacramento to Caliente, then add another eighty-four miles.

Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) was even more outraged. "The arguments for cutting legislative salaries and benefits have gone from being balanced, rational and a reflection of our economic times to simply trying to make a political point." Both Steinberg and Perez have joined the chorus that says Republican members of the Commission have unfairly criticized the Democratic-controlled legislature for its spending practices. So far, however, no Republican legislators have complained about either the earlier pay cuts or the current elimination of their state-provided cars.

I wish I could get a base salary of $109,584 to screw up my clients' finances. But then I don't drive a compact, eco-friendly, fully-electric car like the legislators do. Or do they? Let's see. Top contender for champion gas-guzzler is Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello). The taxpayers bought him a Cadillac STS V-8 luxury sports sedan at a mere $54,830. Calderon in 2009 spent about $83 per week on gasoline on a taxpayer state-issued credit card. And that was before the Democrats brought us $4.50 per gallon premium gasoline.

I don't think I'll be spending a lot of time praying for the well-being of the now poverty-stricken legislators. They could just ride horses, which also provide manure that can be burned for home lighting and heat when the power goes off after green weenie schemes cause the power companies to institute rolling blackouts.

15 comments:

Tennessee Jed said...

Thanks for the chuckle, Hawk-- although the situation makes one cry because of the underlying seriousness.

T_Rav said...

Oh, NOOOO!!!! What will the poor legislators do now that they can't drive free cars all over the state to consult their prostitutes, I mean constituents??

More seriously, I'm with Jed. This story really isn't funny, because it just proves that when it comes time to address not these frills, but the real core problems--entitlement programs and such--these idiots will not accept reality. They will stop up the government machinery, try to confiscate all the rich people's income and property--anything that will keep the flow of things owed to them and their supporters going. Good thing the federal government doesn't have that problem...

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: Yeah, I have to laugh or otherwise I'd be boo-hooing all the time.

LawHawkRFD said...

T_Rav: We created a huge bureaucracy to administer welfare. Unfortunately the welfare workers liked the idea so much that they wanted a piece of the action. Then the legislators who voted the funds for it wanted their piece. Pretty soon, the only people who got nothing for something were the taxpayers who pay for the whole mess.

At least Californians have this one commission that actually understands that its responsibility is to cut waste, wean public officials off the heroin perks, and promote some fiscal responsibility. How long that will last is another story. Right now, Republicans control the commission. But there will soon be two vacancies, and Jerry Brown sure won't be appointing any conservatives.

AndrewPrice said...

Well, I'm glad to see that California has righted it's economic ship. Should be nothing but smooth sailing from hereon out. LOL!

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: All right, Smart Aleck (Smart Andrew?). I'm so desperate to see something, anything, cut from our state expenditures that this seems like a gigantic oasis in the middle of the Sahara. I'm pretty sure that's how they soften us up. Steal $1,000 out of our wallets, then give us back a $1.00 bill in hopes we won't be too angry.

LawHawkRFD said...

I want to be sure to wish our Jewish friends a joyous Passover. This is the time of year that Christians and Jews can celebrate God's grace and freedom from bondage of both the body and the soul.

Tehachapi Tom said...

Hawk
Lets use a measuring cup in the Pacific Ocean and stop free medical, education and instate tuition for criminals ie.Illegal aliens.
Add all the other onerous requirements placed on Districts, Villages, Cities and Counties when they need to repair or maintain any of the infrastructure under their control. Requiring prevailing wage and union labor for any contractor performing such work almost doubles the cost of such projects. There are licensed contractors who are more than capable and are willing to bid much better prices for the same materials and labor required for these projects.

As for autos a pool of state vehicles to be used for state business only should not be a problem. Compact economy cars and enforced business only use would be cost effective versus paying mileage.

LawHawkRFD said...

Tehachapi Tom: The pool remains in effect, and I'm sure those creative legislators will figure out a way to exploit what they have left of their perk. Try telling a California Democrat that monkey business is not the people's business.

patti said...

"NOT MY STATE-PROVIDED RIDE!" ~waaaaaaaa~

yes. i love this. i'd be happy to provide roller-blades to one lucky legislator. green and getting in shape! win win, baby!

isn't this what those dudes/ettes all about anyway?!

LawHawkRFD said...

Patti: How dare we actually question their need for free rides? You know, I used to get frustrated with the long drive between San Francisco and Los Angeles that I made two or three times a year before I moved. And yet we're supposed to believe that some clown in Sacramento wants to make that trip regularly in a state-provided luxury car to "stay in contact with his constituents." I guess we're supposed to be grateful that his constituency isn't in San Diego.

I never thought I'd find myself saying this, but hasn't he ever heard of FaceBook and Twitter? E-mail? Or even airplanes?

patti said...

law: pointing lawmakers towards social networking gave me a good lol!

tweet damnit!

LawHawkRFD said...

Patti: I know. My fingers are still hurting from typing it. Sample tweet: "I just spent $120 of your money filling up my gas tank."

patti said...

law: you forgot the main ingredient: the hashtag and sheenism.

"I just spent $120 of your money filling up my gas tank. #winning"

LawHawkRFD said...

Patti: Thank you for reminding me, oh Violent Torpedo of Truth! LOL

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