Thursday, November 19, 2009

So How Are Things Going Up There In Sacramento?

The powers that be in our state capitol seem to have a lot of confidence in their ability to tell cities such as ours how to run their affairs. And with the consolidation of many former city responsibilities under the aegis of the state, you'd think that they'd finally get a handle on this stuff, right? After all, isn't that why Sacramento decided they'd need to do everything themselves, so that things would just be better?

Well, it appears that things might not be working out quite that way. The Associated Press, citing a report from the Legislature's own budget analyst, paints a picture of rampant incompetence.

Forecast: California faces another massive deficit - California will face a nearly $21 billion budget gap over the next year and a half, extending a fiscal crisis that already has led to steep cuts to public schools, social services and health programs ... In a report Wednesday, the Legislature's nonpartisan budget analyst pins the blame on the deep recession and poor decisions by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state lawmakers over the past year.

Now that's wild. When their very own analyst says the Legislature is doing an terrible job, and then blames his bosses for running the state into fiscal disaster, you know things there have got to be pretty awful.

So how are are our legislators dealing with all these problems? Are they staying up late at night poring over the books looking for a way to make the numbers work? Well, according to an article from the Sacramento Bee, they are staying up late. But maybe not in quite the way we'd hoped.

Amid budget crisis, California legislators still wined and dined on lobbyists' dime - It was Valentine's Day eve 2009, and the state faced a $40 billion deficit and a deadline ... The governor and legislative leaders had just agreed on a package of sobering tax increases and spending cuts that would affect every Californian. But the package awaited review by the full Legislature ... Conservatives were decrying the tax increases, Democrats were trying to stand firm, and national newspapers were opining on whether California would go bankrupt ... That same night, AT&T spent $1,800 to send 18 legislators, legislative staffers and their children to "Disney's High School Musical: The Ice Tour" at Arco Arena ... Such contrasts were commonplace, according to a Bee analysis of gifts to legislators over 18 months, ending in June. While their constituents coped with the worst recession in decades and the state suffered through another budget crisis, California's legislators and leaders ate about 8,000 free meals, pocketed about 2,000 free event tickets and accepted enough flowers to open a new shop, all courtesy of lobbyists.

That is a pretty damning assessment of how our state legislature is doing its job.

Attached to this article is something called the Sacramento Bee Data Base. And within that data base there is a function that enables the reader to not only see how much every elected official and their staff is getting from lobbyists, but also exactly what those gifts were. And then it ranks then by the gross dollar value received.

So being the curious sort of fellow that I am, I decided I'd check up our boys Assemblyman Anthony Adams and State Senator Bob Huff. And you know, both of them really distinguished themselves in this report. Why? Because they both finished in the Top 20 of all Sacramento elected officials! Adams came in at #7, while Bob Huff was no slouch either at #19. They might not be much in the way of elected officials, but they're as tough as nails when it comes to elbowing their way to the lobbyist trough. Quite an achievement.

So here is a very partial list of the gifts and services our two legislators and staff received from lobbyists. Remember, it certainly isn't everything they got, but does give you a pretty good idea of who is lavishing free stuff on the two ethical heavyweights we elected to represent us.

Assemblyman Anthony Adams (#7 CA lobbyist gift recipient)

- Massage Certificates from Body Center Physical Therapy .... $290.00
- Beer and wine from Anheiser Busch ... $130.00
- Tickets to Kings game from AT&T ... $121.00
- Tickets, parking, and lunch from Oak Tree Racing (Indian Gaming) ... $315.00
- Blue Tooth Headset from Nectar Associates ... $120.00
- Lunch and gift from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs ... $107.00
- Tickets USC vs. ASU and food from California Corr. Officers ... $344.00
- Dinner & Reception from Entertainment Software Associates ... $420.00
- Dinner & Reception from California B.I.A. ... $264.00
- Dinner @ La Verne CC from Metropolitan Water Dist So Cal ... $135.00

State Senator Bob Huff (#19 CA lobbyist gift recipient)

- Rubicon Jeep Trip from Chrysler Motors ... $780.00
- Dinner @ LG's Prime Steakhouse from Philip Morris Tobacco ... $131.00
- Reception with California B.I.A. ... $122.00
- Dinner from Sempra Energy ... $200.00
- Tickets to Billy Joel concert from BP America ... $316.00
- Lakers Tickets from BP America ... $175.00
- Tickets to Angels Game from AT&T ... $195.00
- Dinner from California B.I.A. ... $132.00
- Dinner from Exxon/Mobil ... $130.00
- Dinner from Sempra Energy ... $165.00

Well there you go. At least they're good at something.

46 comments:

  1. So let's see, both Bob and Anthony have been dined and feted
    by the BIA, and both voted for SB 375. No coincidence there.
    Let me guess. They were allowed to order anything on the menu
    they liked.

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  2. Hmmm...notice Sempra Energy comes up a few times.
    Isn't that who Joe Mosca, our disgraceful Joe Mosca, Sierra Madre councilman works?

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  3. Well at least the lobbists are getting their money's worth. Actually they are getting off cheap. Maybe we should give these guys a chichen dinner, a ride in a cop car, and a tour of Kersting Court and see what we can get.

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  4. Pasta that is a great idea. Of course I don't know if we'll be able to compete on the campaign donation side of the equation. That is where the real joy takes place.

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  5. with all these dinners and trips when do they have time to vote?

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  6. After all that fine dining, it's surprising they can even fit through the legislature door.

    Maybe they should change the name to the Fat Forum.

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  7. Not clear on the conceptNovember 19, 2009 at 10:43 AM

    Anybody have any idea what a "reception with the BIA" would entail? Do you get a big kiss from Bart Doyle? A commemorative DSP keychain? All the shrimp you can eat?

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  8. All of the above plus a DIC decoder ring

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  9. To Sir Eric:
    Thanks for exposing all these politicians and their friends who do not represent the people who elected them!
    You get my vote as VOLUNTEER of the YEAR.
    For those who don't know. Sir Eric has a demanding full time job, a wife and two school age children.
    He reaps no financial gain from running this website and writing these columns.
    Let's make that VOLUNTEER OF THE DECADE.
    Let's all thank this man!

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  10. I want a DIC decoder ring! Will it give us the secret list of quality local investors in the Howie's property deal?

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  11. Most of us have a pretty good idea who they are LLC.

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  12. Anybody get that call from Anthiny Adams? I did. And during dinner time. I wasn;t very impressed by that one.

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  13. I remember from a Civics Class the admonition that "eternal vigilance is the price of Liberty".
    Good for Sierra Madre! We might just get liberated.

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  14. The state's financial mess, is it an emergency if we can't see an end to it? Can you call a permanent condition an emergency?

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  15. Anyone get the fancy PUSD flier wanting more money AGAIN? They talk about cutting everything except the beauracrats. Take a look at your property tax bill. Just vote no to any more taxes for anything..

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  16. Of course they need more money. The fine contractors they hired with the last batch we sent their way robbed them blind. And the PUSD's record keeping is so lousy the DA couldn't prosecute.

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  17. Look for Buchanan to push this latest scam for the PUSD.
    Anything to do with raising taxes or promoting development.......Buchanan and Mosca find a way to pimp it.

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  18. Isn't Mosca somehow involved with the PUSD?

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  19. What about the transfer of authority from the City Council to the City Manager that took place during the Bart Doyle years, especially during the days of John Gillison?

    Now we have a situation where the City Manager manages the City Council instead of the other way around; the way it should be. When will the City Council take back its rightful authority and put staff in its rightful place?

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  20. Anon 1:08 I think he's our representative to the PUSD Board.

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  21. While at starbucks this morning, I was talking to a few "local yocals" and we agree on one thing: The city council appears to be afraid of the city manager and the city manager appears to be afraid of the police chief. What a joke.

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  22. who would vote for Adams or Huff after discovering they accepted tickets to a USC game or a Billy Joel concert? duds.

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  23. i'm surpised joe and john haven' shown up to council meetings wearing platform shoes, full length fake mink coats and a full ensemble of pimp attire

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  24. 2:24 - That look would certainly have gone down nicely with the cars they were driven
    around in for the 4th of July parade.

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  25. Can the city council change back to the old way... no city manager?

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  26. I've heard that the City Manager is a bit of a bully. How else would she have been able to get one of her relatives a job in City Hall without having to go through the screening process?

    It seems plausible that she could intimidate Don Watts, and of course she's colluding with Mosca and Buchanan on behalf of development interests. But Zimmerman and MacGillvry don't seem like the type that can be easily intimidated.

    If Anon 1:30 is correct, then what kind of Dirt does Diaz have on Aguilar? If Diaz doesn't have any Dirt on Aguilar, then what kind of intimidation tactics is she using and for what purpose?

    Someone that carries a gun and a badge is more dangerous than someone that just carries a gun.

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  27. 2:39 - Jason Jensen might disagree with you

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  28. Pasta, of course it can. All the City Council needs to do is reverse the resolutions passed by the previous Doyle dominated Councils. It will take some work and a trustworthy staff to "locate" all the resolutions, however. None of these issues will ever be resolved until we replace the City Attorney.

    The City Attorney and City Manager could (and probably do) work very closely together in order to undermine the best efforts of our best elected leaders.

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  29. 2:42

    Who is Jason Jensen and why should anyone care?

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  30. Uh oh, here we go ...

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  31. Old Kentucky, you are right about Sir Eric, I thought this was all he did, god bless him, thank you Mrs Maundry. I hope his children grow well and strong and realize they are so lucky to have a father who is a real live hero.

    Sir Eric I know you are one of a kind but I wish we could clone you because all cities need someone like you right now.

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  32. To set the record straight. The city manager is not related to her assistant although they both have the same last name. Aguilar, like Smith or Jones is a common name.

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  33. Thanks for setting the record straight, 2:57
    I had heard that tale as well. Glad to know it's not accurate.

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  34. Is our city broke or not?November 19, 2009 at 4:59 PM

    Where is the business sense in state and local government? All of those gifts should be illegal. If someone wants to bake a cupcake, or draw a picture, or send a thank you note to a politician, good. But that should be the extent of it. No gifts over one dollar allowed. Those people have serious jobs and should behave accordingly. If they want to go to a game in their off time, let them buy their own tickets. They make plenty of money.
    Locally, why haven't we downsized city hall? Politics aside, just a plain old economically prudent move in these times would be to reduce staff, freeze salaries, and decrease all non-essential services. Good time to house clean, get rid of the top heavy administrative costs, and restore a sensible small scale operation for this small town.

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  35. Sacramento - the worst government money can buy.

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  36. Because Jason Jensen is going to OWN Sierra Madra after being shot by one of our police officers. I'm sure Jensen has a hired gun for an attorney and he will probably receive millions of dollars for his pain and suffering.
    Only in Sierra Madra!

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  37. Dead beats in city hallNovember 19, 2009 at 6:44 PM

    4:59 THANK YOU why isn't anyone else screaming and yelling and kicking!!! Why are we not downsizing, ah hem reducing, ah, firing all the deadbeats in city hell oops hall? What is the hesitation? YES get rid of the top heavy admisnistrative costs!!!! Every other city is cutting back days. Sir Eric, why are you not talking about this, where is our City Council's stand on this? Why are all these people employed? They are costing us tax payers way tooo much!!! Small town and big government doing WHAT!?

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  38. Downsizing is not in their voccabulary. We now have a film position and Weaver has more assistants than Carter has pills.

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  39. 6:44 - you're obviously new to the site. Sift through the 300 articles here and you'll find that topic has been covered.

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  40. 7:15, its like we have to pay for everything, and have no say in it. Give us a forensic audit, and then let's see some major surgery as well.

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  41. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  42. I doubt you have read very much here. But look, if you're unhappy about what you've read here, why don't you start your own blog and have at it? You of the opinion that the world owes you something?

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  43. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  44. Thanks for your opinion ST.

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  45. So many trolls, so little time. But the posters right. Stop whining about this blog and start your own. There at least your garbage won't get deleted.

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  46. Sir Eric, if that's all they got, they don't have much.

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