Has Democracy become inconvenient in California? An unfortunate relic of another time? So much of what we have seen over the past couple of years would seem to indicate that it has become a burden for some. The removal of many of the development planning powers that used to belong to cities would be one of them. Too much undependable local control there. And CEQA reviews in the hands of local government could be bad for business as well. Sacramento has also thoughtfully removed those from us. After all, housing development is California's last great industry, and there is no need to allow small cities such as ours to interfere. Just bring in the wrecking ball and let the building begin! No questions asked.
You see, it just isn't any of our business anymore.
And while city development, planning powers, and CEQA reviews are now to be shared only at the pleasure of Sacramento, there is still that problem with voting. You just never know what those people are going to put on the ballot or, heavens forfend, vote for. The voters are entirely undependable and should never be trusted to make the right decisions. Or so the reasoning would appear to be these days. And no greater advocate of the "No Power To The People" movement than Larry Wilson himself is back with more important information about why YOU should be relieved that the California Voter Initiative process may soon be a thing of the past. You know, all those confusing questions that are always there on the ballot? Why should we bother our pretty little heads about that stuff? Better that you concentrate on more important things, like shopping. And Larry is here to help:
Larry Wilson: Voters brace for swarm of stinging initiatives: FOR your pleasure, there are 51 initiatives in circulation for placement on a 2010 California ballot. Thirty-eight more await titles and summaries. Three have already qualified - including one that would give voters open primaries in 2012 ... But that idea is boring and workaday, as are my favorites on an upcoming ballot, the issues that would lead to a California constitutional convention. That get-together would likely and happily restrict the propositions, initiatives and constitutional amendments with which we are plagues ... If God had intended us to be rules by this dubious form of direct democracy, he (sic) wouldn't have invented legislative bodies, through which other poor shlubs do the governing for us.
You see? There is our final solution. Give up all of your burdensome civic responsibilities like understanding the issues and voting on them to Sacramento. After all, hasn't Baghdad on the Sacramento River done such a wonderful job for us already? In addition to removing our city planning power and CEQA review rights, Sacramento has also given us record debt, local property tax confiscations, the nation's next-to-the-worst education system, and a business climate that has sent viable private enterprise and skilled workers fleeing for the borders. So why not reward them for all their hard work and dedication and make their control complete? Certainly you can't say they haven't earned it. And, as Larry points out, even God wants it that way.
Implicit in this line of thought is that unimpeded lobbyist legislative control is important for getting things done in California. After all, they really have become far more influential up there than the likes of you. So let's just make it official and have you butt out of it altogether, alright? Make your approval of the new "California Constitution" the last initiative vote you'll ever have to cast.
Now it would appear that Larry "The Surfing Solon of Sacramento Sycophancy" Wilson is hardly alone in this. Which, given the massive amounts of corporate money behind the "new constitution" concept of citizen abdication, should come as no surprise. And you do know that there was an instance of this messy "direct democracy" thing happening here in Sierra Madre, right? It was called Measure V, and apparently was some sort of citizens' revolt against a small group of people who believed that they alone had the right to decide what our town should look like. And that you really shouldn't have expected to have much say in the matter. After all, weren't those elected to our City Council at the time just smarter and more aware than everybody else?
Well, OK. I guess I'm taking sarcasm beyond its acceptable limits with that one. A bunch of greedy local real estate hustlers and their select moneyed cronies is more like it. But, wouldn't you know that the same kind of Wilsonian (Larry, not Woodrow) animosity to "direct democracy" has shown up here on The Tattler? Check out this comment to Friday's post:
Here's the bad thing about Measure V. On the face of it, it's not the kind of thing I'd vote for because its structure is not the stuff of "good government." It's clearly a reactionary measure that gives radical control via public opinion. It serves its purpose for local residents under the circumstances, but I wonder if it is something that can withstand legal and political challenges in the long run. So it's a little scary.
Sierra Madre needs to craft some governmental structures as part of its public policy that works to achieve the results that the residents want to keep future development in scale and character with the community. Unfortunately the way things stand now with general Plan revisions, the State would ramrod overdevelopment into the plan. Probably best to wait this one out until sanity is restored in Sacramento.
Hmm, so many targets, so little time. First of all, to refer to something as both reactionary and radical at the same time does seem to be a bit of a semantic challenge. Kind of like calling somebody a "rightwing leftwinger." But since when has citizens taking control of a situation and using the vote to redress an understandable problem with a faithless government become a form of political extremism? To me this is what being an American is all about. Fearlessly standing up to bad government and using the vote to redress grievances is at the very heart of the ideals this country was founded upon. In the case of Measure V the problem was that there was no "good government," and the people of this town did their civic duty and remedied the problem. And we should never want to lose that option should the need arise again.
And then there is the inevitable scare tactic. And my guess is the author of this Wilsonian (Larry, not Woodrow) statement is chafed because we haven't hired any consultants to work on our new General Plan. You know, where citizen government is apparently rearing its problematic head once again? And what is this threat? "Unfortunately, the State would ramrod overdevelopment into the plan."
I don't know where this dude has been napping or what, but the State is going to attempt to "ramrod overdevelopment into the plan" no matter what we do. The law, SB 375, has already been enacted, and people like "Sacramento Joe" Mosca and the rest of the SCAGgies are hard at work making sure those very things come to pass. To say that shelling out $300,000 for a consultant would somehow stop that process is absurd. Let's face it, all a consultant would be likely to do is recommend that we become compliant with Sacramento's development control. That is, roll over, stick our legs and paws into the air, and surrender any rights to controlling development in our town to the central planning apparatus up north.
Which, if I'm not mistaken, is exactly what the author of the above remarks is advocating here.