Despite the strong support given to it by such local civic treasures as Susan Henderson, Bart Doyle, John Buchanan, and Hail Hamilton, Measure CC received its smallest percentage of support right here in Sierra Madre. Something that must be coupled with the fact that Sierra Madre also had the second highest percentage of people who actually voted in this election. Despite the legendary local figures supporting it, no area within the Pasadena Unified School District showed less enthusiasm for adopting a parcel tax than our little city. But Sierra Madre did turn out to vote in relatively good numbers. Or at least we went to the Post Office.
This is something that City Hall here might want to ruminate upon as they work to line up additional fees, rate increases, and new taxes for us to pay. It could very well be that Sierra Madre has pretty much had its fill of being nickel and dimed by government entities who never quite seem to be able to get enough.
Here is how the Measure CC numbers broke down:
District 1: 21.4% turnout - 61.6% voted yes
District 2: 28.4% turnout - 58.4% voted yes
District 3: 17.3% turnout - 73% voted yes
District 4: 34.6% turnout - 44.6% voted yes
District 5: 20.4% turnout - 68.2% voted yes
District 6: 33.5% turnout - 49.5% voted yes
District 7: 28.6% turnout - 54.1% voted yes
Sierra Madre: 33.94% turnout - 43.61% voted yes
Altadena: 27.66% turnout - 56.74% voted yes
Unincorporated Areas: 26.18% turnout - 44.69% voted yes
The 710 Tunnel Process Grinds On
You're hip to this whole "process" thing, right? Joe Mosca uses the word endlessly, so you know there must be something wrong with it. By "process" most compliant functionaries of the state bureaucracy that ran California into the ground are referring to a series of planning events leading up to a conclusion most people would consider awful. Here in Sierra Madre the "process" has now begun in the effort to turn large portions of our funky old town into the kind of generic "mixed use" development ghetto we can see in so many of our neighboring cities. The water rate hike being a necessary first step in funding the kind of infrastructure needed to support the 300 or so "units" SCAG will soon be demanding we build through the now SB 375 driven "RHNA process." And you know that when SCAG says jump, our Mayor Mosca straps on his jet pack. In his mind that's both "process" and an example of a positive attitude.
So the process on the 710 Tunnel moved briskly forward yesterday. And according to today's edition of the Los Angeles Times, this stage of the process involved the bold move of hiring a consultant. And apparently the MTA meeting where this all took place was something of a riot.
MTA board approves new studies of 710 extension - The measure calls for the MTA to hire a consultant to explore options for relieving congestion, improving safety and addressing community concerns in building the link from Alhambra to Pasadena.
After repeated disruptions by protesters from the Bus Riders Union and two arrests, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority unanimously approved a new round of studies for the proposed 710 Freeway extension, including an analysis of alternatives to a tunnel or highway.
(The Bus Riders Union, who apparently are people extremely dedicated to riding those beautiful Metro buses we see so much of through the windows of our cars, were very upset by a recent fare increase instituted by the very folks running this meeting. And they got their protest on so strong that it caused this august MTA panel to suffer a 3 hour delay as police struggled to get these bus loving knuckleheads out of that room and into the pokey. The Metro men then being forced to conduct their deliberations behind locked doors.)
The measure approved Thursday calls for the MTA to hire a consultant to study the project and explore "a full range of options" to relieve congestion, improve safety, address community concerns, and supplement future planning efforts.
What says process more than hiring consultants? Word is this passage in the process will cost the taxpayers of California around $60 million dollars, and in the end result in a report that will mean nothing to anyone living a full life. Why not just declare the issue a dead one, move on, and save this bankrupt state from having to spend even more money? There has got to be a better way to get colorful imported plasticware out of Long Beach and inland to Wal*Mart than digging a $20 billion dollar hole under South Pasadena.
California Versus Greece
Our good friends over at Pasadena Sub Rosa have reprinted a delightful article by Gary Shapiro of The Daily Caller. You might recall something we posted here a week or so back that celebrated California's entry into the list of Top 10 sovereign governments most likely to default and leave its creditors holding nothing but their stomachs. And you should also be aware that Greece, a European Common Market nation so deeply in debt that it nearly triggered a worldwide economic panic (and might still do so if things don't get straightened out and soon), also graces that Top 10 list. In this article Mr. Shapiro details the similarities between Greece and our own troubled state of economic mind.
California and Greece have roughly similar GDP output ($333 billion and $343 billion respectively), as well as similar debt levels ($500 billion and $552 billion respectively). But that only includes state debt for California. When you factor in California's 17 percent stake in the U.S. economy, which is saddled with $8 trillion in debt, the state's total liability is over $1 trillion.
In many ways California as a state has bigger problems than Greece as a country. The unemployment rate in California is higher than that of Greece. And California spends more on many government programs. For example, the 167,000 inmates in California prisons occupy 11 percent of the budget, or $8 billion. By comparison, Greece prisons hold only 12,300 prison inmates.
Both California and Greece suffer from a huge number of unionized government employees accustomed to large defined benefit packages, including annual salary increases and lifetime pensions. Much as been made of the ability of Greek government workers to retire at age 53. In California, government workers can retire at 55. As Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman has noted, the amount California spends on its pension programs has increased by 2,000 percent in the last decade to over $7 billion annually.
I always find that it is good to keep such things in mind when analyzing the performances and achievements of our state legislators. World class failure like this is nothing to be taken lightly. And if results are the true gauge of a worker's performance, then our elected officials in Sacramento must truly be among the worst human beings on the planet. Maybe we should send the Bus Riders Union north to visit with them?
And the Vaunted Tattler Endorsement for the Democratic Nomination for U.S. Senator Goes to ... Mickey Kaus!
You can check out my man Mickey in that photo at the top of this post. There you can see him in his attack dog debating posture, fiercely exposing the hypocrisy and fecklessness of his opponent. Now originally he had challenged Barbara Boxer to join him in this debate, but she knew that if she showed up her political days could be numbered. Besides, she had a fundraiser to attend. So in her absence Kaus chose to debate a box named Barbara. And let me tell you, by the time it was all over Barbara Box was dragged unconscious from the room and straight to recycling.
Why Mickey Kaus you ask? Well first of all I have been reading his stuff for about a decade now. Mickey was a blogger before it was cool, and he still is one now that it really isn't anymore. And not just any old blog, but the legendary Slate, which is still very much in existence, now as an appendage of the Washington Post news empire. He has also written for a raft of other places such as the New Republic and Harpers, as well as having authored a few books, included the acclaimed The End of Equality.
In what was perhaps Kaus's biggest victory to date in his race with Barbara Boxer, the Los Angeles Times decided to remain neutral and refused to endorse either candidate. Which, if you think about it, is kind of a big deal. Here is how The Times characterized both candidates:
We find that we're no fans of incumbent Barbara Boxer. She displays less intellectual firepower or leadership than she should.
We appreciate the challenge brought by Robert "Mickey" Kaus, even though he is not a realistic contender, because he asks pertinent questions about Boxer's "lockstep liberalism" on labor, immigration and other matters.
In an ensuing press release, Mickey Kaus discussed this almost endorsement of his candidacy:
But the Times said it doubted that Kaus would step away from his "Democratic-gadfly persona" were he elected.
"I can see where the Times would have that worry," he said today. "As a blogger, I've been a professional gadfly. But I understand that people need a Senator they can turn to for help -- and they need a Senator to stand up on issues, like the environment and Wall Street regulation, where the need may often be less to find new ideas than to defeat old interests."
"I've always admired the role Daniel Patrick Moynihan played in the Senate. I think there is a role for gadflies and for people who turn over ideas and question dogmas. That's what the Senate was supposed to be all about. But people want a leader too, and I would intend to be one. "They obviously don't think Boxer is one."
As far as who is a realistic contender: "That's for the voters to decide. The point is the paper got a look at both of us and decided not to endorse the three-term incumbent over the blogger."
Today The Tattler proudly endorses Mickey Kaus for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senator from the State of California. I hope you will join with us on June 8 and support this most worthy of candidates as well.