Wednesday, November 3, 2010

So Exactly How Bad Do Things Have To Get In California?

Yesterday's election was historic. Well, at least for me it was historic. I cast my first votes for Republicans in my life. Not too many of them though, only three. The rest I scattered amongst colorful sounding third party candidates. Some of whom actually made a small statistical dent in the results.

A couple of years ago that would have been unthinkable and I'd have probably thought all movement in my voting arm would be gone forever by now. Permanently crippled by my treacherous alliance with an unspeakable evil. It didn't happen, though.

The good news is my voting arm still does what I ask it to, with the proof being that I can type this post. I've been spared the expense of a trip to Lourdes.

You have to wonder, though. Just how bad do things have to get in California before people will cast votes to change something? The public school system is nearing collapse, deficits and debt continue to pile up year after year, our corrupt state legislature basically hands over our wealth to whomever can guarantee it the most political support and basketball tickets, unemployment is at near historic highs, and what happened this election? While the rest of the country regularly throws out whoever is in power every two years like clockwork, in California the same people keep getting returned to office like we are living in the Golden Age.

And not just that, California has apparently become pretty much a one party state. With the passage of Proposition 25 there will now be nothing or nobody that will in any way slow down the dominant political party here. It will do whatever it damn well wants to with your money, utterly and completely unchallenged. It is going to be the Jerry Brown and Darrell Steinberg show 24/7. I don't think that there has been 2 more completely empowered people ever in this state. So why those two?

We've just handed complete power over to a pair of doofuses I wouldn't trust to run a used car lot, much less the 7th largest economy in the world.

Joe Mathews, who writes often for that Fox & Hounds site I try to talk people into reading once in a while, showed up last night on the equally excellent PROPZERO blog, which is run by KNBC News, of all people. In an article entitled The Results: Californians Won't Embrace Change, he ruminates thusly on these mighty matters:

(This) also sends a remarkable message about politics in California. Even at a time of persistent governing crisis, and record high levels of public discontent with government in California, voters aren't willing to embrace change here.

Brown's restoration to power (on a campaign platform with strong echoes of the incumbent Schwarzenegger's policies) and Boxer's re-election to a fourth term are the least of it. California won't make changes to its Congressional delegation, even as Congress sees a huge shift in power. The partisan make-up of the state legislature will stay the same. Most initiatives appear to be going down.

While the rest of the country throws out the bums every two years no matter who or what they are, here we reward them with power for life. Irregardless of how awful a job they do.

Mathews sketches out these reasons for California's oligarchy for life:

1. Lack of alternatives. In a two party system, it's up to the minority party to come up with acceptable challengers. And the California Republican Party is losing members and financial support. The institution that should develop challengers is in trouble.

2. Many Californians have given up on voting. At least 60 percent of the 23.5 million Californians eligible to vote didn't cast votes this fall. After years of frustration and persistent crisis, Californians are dropping out of the electorate.

3. Voters have no way to make change via elections. The system of legislative elections is broken; because of its size and scale and gerrymandering, voters can't change the party in control of the legislature. And they don't know their representatives. The ballot initiative process is open only to the rich people and interests with the millions of dollars needed to qualify measures and run campaigns.

If last night showed anything, it is that California managed to have a very important statewide election in troubled times and changed nothing. In 2010 that was a very hard thing to do.

With one exception, the 59th Assembly District

There is a quote attributed to Tim Donnelly that made the news almost everywhere around Happy Valley. From the Pasadena Star News to the Sierra Madre Patch (which I think has posted it three times now), it was cited as something fearful and most uncivil. Not to mention the obvious decorum issues. And certainly something the good people of Duckberg would never ever want to associate themselves with in this our most perfect world.

Here Frank Girardot trots it out once again for today's PSN:

"I'm going to Sacramento to start the war," (Donnelly) told supporters in Barstow. "I'm not going there to reach across the aisle and make friends. I'm going there to reach across the aisles to the enemies of freedom and annihilate them and pound them into the ground and take back our power."

So the good citizens, having read this statement in their newspapers, not to mentions on the Patches of this world, must have been aghast. With the result being that this ruffian was cast off into the wild from which he most obviously came?

Well, not exactly. He won. Not only did he win, he did it with a larger percentage of the vote than his Republican predecessor. And despite the fact that his opponent and her handlers made this quote practically the basis of their entire campaign.

Some numbers to back this up. (From the CA Sec'y of State site - 100% reporting.)

2008: Anthony Adams (R) 51.1%, Donald E. Williamson (D) 40.7%, Maureen K. Keedy (L) 8.2%

2010: Tim Donnelly (R) 57.3%, Darcel Woods 37.0%, with the Libertarian and AIP candidates splitting the remaining 5.7% of the vote.

Tim Donnelly comes from a town in San Bernardino County called Twin Peaks. Apparently it is a place where folks have somehow retained their traditional American zeal for making strong statements. Something that translated well even here on the Los Angeles County side of our bizarrely shaped Assembly district.

I think I'm going to have to go and check Twin Peaks out soon. I'll be sure to remain polite when I do.

Back to Sierra Madre tomorrow ...


  1. And Meg Whitman was gonna change any of this?....ya, right

  2. Well see, we are just like the rest of the state. Nobody voted and now we have the equivalent of Joe Mosca as our governor.

  3. Anybody going to ask Meg Whitman if she would so generously match the money she spent on herself in this campaign from her own bank account (another $160 mil must be lying around somewhere) on schools, libraries, fire equipment and emergency rooms?

  4. The defeat of Prop.23 will be devastating.It's going to be too horrific to imagine.

    The voters of California, like the voters of Sierra Madre last April, voted in the same disastrous policies that have caused all our difficulties and will make them even worse in the future.

    I am very unhappy with the results in California. :(

    People in the other states are not going to want to bail out California.

    Congratulations to Tim Donnelly. I know Tim will speak up for us in Sacramento. I suppose he is now the MaryAnn MacGillivray, John Crawford and Kurt Zimmerman of the State of Cal. Assembly.

    Tim is one tough man, God Bless you, Tim!
    God help the rest of us,those of us who have jobs and will be paying, and paying and paying. So will our kids.

    To MaryAnn MacGillivray:
    Thank you for being our honest representative.
    You must be very proud of your old State of Wisconsin. Ron Johnson, in my opinion was the most amazing victory in the election last night.
    I heard this man in a radio interview and he is one very, very special man.

  5. You could ask jerry Brown that same question, 7:32. But that money would have to come out of our taxes.

  6. Tattooed and AbusedNovember 3, 2010 at 7:57 AM

    Congrats John, you have finally realized we have a political oligarchy in LaLa land, carefully gerimandered to be able to predict the outcome without even the necessity of voting. Welcome to the club.

  7. The Democratic party spent more money on Jerry Brown's campaign than Meg Whitman spent.
    The Democratic party is the party of the wealthy establishment. The ELITE.

  8. Jerry Brown and Darrell Steinberg are already revving up the bulldozers to bring us all a little Transit Oriented Development. Expect to see John Buchanan and Joe Mosca greeting them with little celebratory earth flags when they show up at the city line.

  9. The question to ask Jerry Brown about the money spent on his campaign? Were these individual doners, voters and interest groups, or his own money? That was the question being asked by 7:32. So to spend tax money on schools, libraries, fire departments, emergency rooms, etc., is what is expected of a society that works for the common good.

  10. 8:15 - are you suggesting Jerry Brown spent tax money on his campaign?

  11. I am in a union.
    The Democratic Party spent my tax dollars and union dues on 1. The Mosca, Buchanan, Walsh, Moran, Joffe recent campaigns.
    They spent money on fighting Sierra Madre's Measure V.

    I resent my money being spent on politican's campaigns and the "green" scam of the Sacramento crooks.

  12. You can't always get what you want
    But if you try sometimes you just might find
    You just might find
    You get what you need

    This election was a step in the right direction in many respects. And if you did not vote for republican or tea party candidates you voted for john and joe.

  13. 8:18--my post (at 8;15 was an answer to one above at 7:52. It is hard to follow sometime. Go back to the top and read down on all the posts so far and this back and forth will clear up.

  14. An Offer I Can't RefuseNovember 3, 2010 at 8:50 AM

    8:28, me too. By force, not by choice. If I want to keep my job, I have to pay the union dues, even though I refuse to °join° them. Just more mafia style extortion.

  15. California government is run as a partnership between interested corporations, govt employee unions, and the Democratic Party. Voters and taxpayers are little more than a marketing problem, people that need to be told warm and comforting stories. Sierra Madre is just Sacramento in miniature.

  16. The big money in the propositions was AGAINST prop 23.....if people are going to be so insistent that the big money corrupts, well then what does that tell us about Prop 23?
    Hope I'm wrong.

  17. Hedge funds threw in a lot of cash against Prop 23. Cap and Trade is going to make them a huge amount of money. Jobs and utility rates be damned.

  18. A bright spot for me nationally was the defeat of candidates who showed shocking ignorance about the Constitution.
    Politics are rotten, but not yet at the Politainment level.

  19. The same old, same old. Vote for ME or we won't have fire protection, our library will close, nurses will quit in flocks and our schools will be non-existant. And so the flocks vote for ME. Then scream bloody murder when their taxes go up, nothing is changed and things get progressively worse. Same is true in Sierra Madre as it is in Sacramento. Now, of course Joe and John think they have a real mandate.

  20. Mathews is right. Many people have just given up.

  21. The defeat of Proposition 23 was a big win for the development industry, and there are probably champagne corks popping at this very moment.
    As freaky as Donnely's war talk sounds, it could also apply to the development industry in California. They are at war against the residents of the state, and they just won a big victory. They'll ruin the place completely, and then move away to places smart enough to forbid their control.

  22. The focus has to be on repeal of SB 375 by a coalition of people willing to do what it takes. No need to roll over for pure development, which has no justification other than profit. We have "see-through" buildings and industry all over the country, there's no justification for more of this destructive activity that wastes money, energy and burns up resources. It's just postwar insanity and banking sector greed, not intelligent use of resources and human capital to create the kind of communities that work.

  23. Developers also won in Florida.
    The two states that have horrific housing crises are happy with developers being in control.

  24. Who is Pamela J Brown? She ran as the Libertarian candidate for Lt Governor and got 417,000 votes, or almost 6%. That is a lot for a 3rd party candidate. Is she someone with a lot of support, or did she get all those votes because her last name is Brown and people mistook her for Moonbeam?

  25. When AB32+SB375 come barreling into our town, anyone who has the fight left in them will carry on the opposition. But really? I think it's over.

  26. Jerry Brown could end up meeting the same
    fate as Grey Davis. Particularly if he goes
    whole hog on that development war on the
    suburbs thing that Washington was pushing.
    Which didn't work out too well for them now,
    did it. Don't expect a lot of 'smart growth'
    federal matching funds for a while. That crap
    is going to get completely cut out.

  27. Jerry will sue towns into submission.
    Ask Pleasanton.

  28. Can you imagine the joy Joe will feel when he informs Sierra Madre that unless we accommodate high density development here Governor Brown will sue us? I think Joe was born for that role.

  29. There's ways to handle developer attempts at high-density growth at many levels. Lack of resources such as water and power is one of them. Our drought will provide assist on both issues, Hoover Dam is near zero.

  30. Bruce Inman says the $17 million dollar pipeline has nothing to do with development, so it certainly can't be that...

  31. 1974 Discos and MoonbeamsNovember 3, 2010 at 12:56 PM

    They were really close races. So even if one person/prop passed it was only by a few thousand votes. So it was not like overwhelming opinion won. I really dislike the two party system, it is a real distractor in our election system. You know what else, California is torn in half by the piss fight between the powers in San Francisco and the ones in Los Angeles. I was hoping that people would vote for the lady who has her own money. Mr. Brown is senile already. That ad that compared the same words out of Arnolds mouth and Ms Whitmans mouth, like they had the same scriptwriter did not help her. Browns freudian slip, "I have all the police cheifs in my????"
    Pocket.. was real transparency to me. Cooley versus Harris should have been a slum dunk, what kind of voting machines are being used now?

  32. Glad you're up for the fight 12:26, & hope you can organize & lead.

  33. An oversimplification regarding campaign spending would be to say republicans have big business backing them and democrats have big unions backing them. But it shows that rank and file citizens run a distant third in leverage with politicians. Voter apathy can be partially tied to the feeling it makes no difference who gets in. They all end up pandering to special interests.

    And Meg Whitman shouldn't be criticized for spending $160 million in her campaign. After all, she put it into the economy. Whoever said she should donate it to schools should also make that same argument to every other person of means.

    I think Brown has a better chance of enacting change in the governor's office than Whitman because he knows how to pull the levers of government. Whether he pulls them or not is a different matter. Ms. Whitman's fix to problems was to fire somebody, a luxury she could not employ working with the assembly and senate.

    How about Willie Brown for governor for life?

  34. I realized who carlye reminds me of - that witch in Snow White with the apple in her hand.

  35. You know 12:58, that's sort of how I feel. I'm tired of fighting - at least today. I'd kinda like some other folks to join in. Some younger ones who have more energy.

  36. I'm ashamed to live in California.
    I'm more ashamed to live in Sierra Madre.
    We are under the control of very corrupt politicians.
    It's very sad.

  37. Thanks for those remarks about the money 1:13. It has certainly become irrelevant who spends more on a statewide or national level. Locally, it might still be an indicator of who is trying to rig the game.

    I for one am having my usual day after an election - hoping that I was wrong about some, glad that it wasn't worse (President Christine, for example). But I worry that Brown knows the levers all too well - and he has the zealot's dedication to his causes.

  38. I'm not criticizing Meg's $160 mil campaign expenditure; I'm just wondering why. $160 mil of her own treasure to run for public office...

  39. If you spend $160 mill to run for office and
    don't win, people will talk. The only thing
    worse than trying to buy an office is spending
    truckloads of cash and walking away empty handed.

  40. working for a livingNovember 3, 2010 at 1:31 PM

    At that level of wealth, try as she might, she cannot spend it all.

    Its discretionary income to the nth degree.

    Nth degree money means multi generational rolling in the bucks.

  41. Dear tired@12:58, and also tired Anonymous@1:15,
    I wish there were good news about reinforcements, but it looks like political activism is really an older person's game, except for the flare-ups that sweep through the youth now and then. Don't know why, but a guess is that it takes a long time for people to realize that their presence can make a big difference, that what they say can really influence actions.

  42. Don't forget the boring factor 1:38. Most of politics is very boring, and attracts people who love to hear themselves talk.

  43. I don't know about you guys, but I love mixing it up with city hall. We've knocked Mosca back on his heels a couple of times now, and whatever he tries to do with the water rate hike he is still going to look like a wet rat. Then he's going to have to sell the cop raise and a UUT hike, plus sell bonds for streets and sewers. The guy is a nuclear power plant of debt generation. Today might seem like a down day, and what happened to Prop 23 is tragic. But think of who it is that we are up against. You just couldn't hope for a better chump.

  44. Great perspective Sir Eric.

  45. I look at the community activists in Sierra
    Madre and I see the kind of people who ran
    things in this state when it was a better
    place. I am very proud to know these people.
    How much better a place would California be
    if more cities had people like those who
    live in our town?

  46. Hey Tattlers, anyone know what the council's special closed meeting is about tonight?

  47. The case name is "Walters". Isn't he that contractor that was pissed over something Inman did or said some time back?

  48. On the Pasadena Star News website there is a "live poll." Question is:

    Do you trust your elected officials?

    Answering yes - 237 votes, or 9.1%

    Answering no - 2,361 votes, or 90.9%

    That "yes" number seems high.

  49. Ted Walters v. City of Sierra Madre et al

  50. Ted Walters was/is? a firefighter.
    It's a Fair Labor Standards Act case.

  51. Meg spent $140 million to get elected to an office that pays $212,179.00 annually. The question that begs to be answered is why?
    I wish more politicians from both sides of the aisle had the zeal of Tim Donnelly, perhaps more would get done in Sacramento.

  52. 2:48, a desire to contribute to the common good not possible?

  53. Donnelly pisses off all the right people.

  54. @ 2:59
    At the risk of sounding snarky, (which btw is one of the reasons I read this blog, thanks Sir Eric!) I guess it would depend upon what one would consider, "a desire to contribute to the common good not possible?" to be.
    I suppose you're right, it's not possible.

  55. Most people claiming to contribute to
    the greater good either don't know what
    that is, or want to sell you something.

  56. You guys are earning your snark badges.

  57. MLaner, if a positive motivation is out of the question, Whitman's willingness to spend a bunch of extra money must be a plot by Satan for world domination. Sir Eric kicks off his article with a painting of that very thing.

  58. Bill and Melinda contribute to the greater good. Meg Whitman? $160 million to run for an elected office? Maybe not so much to the greater good.

  59. I used to want to contribute to the greater good, but then I figured out I was better.

  60. That is the problem with pictures like that,
    3:30. It might just be a guy in a hat.

  61. nuh-uh 3:43.
    That's no guy in a hat....

  62. I'd love to know what Sir Eric googled to have that painting come up.

  63. You're right 3:51. It's a cowl with really big teeth.

  64. The painting is a detail from
    Allegory Of Bad Government
    Ambrogio Lorenzetti
    Great choice.

  65. Just a thought, who profited most from Meg's 1,600,000?

  66. @3:30 anon
    "Whitman's willingness to spend a bunch of extra money must be a plot by Satan for world domination."
    Oh, you are so right, that must be it and is exactly what I inferred in my original post.
    Hyperbole much?
    I don't know that I could ever refer to $140,000,000.00 as "a bunch of extra money", but then I'm not a California state legislator.
    Your post points to exactly what is wrong with political discourse in modern times. I for one believe it is always advisable to question a politicians motivation to seek elected office. An often discussed example of this would be our current city council majority.

  67. @4:16
    My best guess would be all of the radio, television, and media companies that sold the Whitman campaign ad time.

  68. Maybe Meg should have just paid Jerry Brown a hundred million to go get lost.

  69. @4:34
    Um, no, it is not.
    Perhaps the definitions of the words I used will help.
    insinuated - past participle, past tense of in·sin·u·ate (Verb)
    1. Suggest or hint (something negative) in an indirect and unpleasant way.
    inferred - past participle, past tense of in·fer
    Verb: Deduce or conclude (information) from evidence and reasoning rather than from explicit statements.
    I prefer to deduce rather than suggest something negative, but thanks for the english lesson. I'll make sure your spelling error is noted in the record, or were you being snarky?
    It's so hard to tell.

  70. Is that a snark in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?November 3, 2010 at 5:02 PM

    To lose 160 million dollars, on a political horse race and to lose to a broken down, sway back, jesuit that has got to hurt. Perhaps she should receive a small CA city for her effort as a consolation prize. Maybe we can get her to relocate to the San Gabriel Valley.

  71. Sorry she said it was only 142 million not so bad then,

  72. Good thing you snark experts are straightening everything out.

  73. Maybe we should hire a snark consultant. Those guys have all the answers.

  74. California has about 23.5 MILLION registered voters.
    About 5 MILLION voted.
    How sad.

  75. Whitman spending 160 million bucks is not surprising. She has arrived at being a billionaire. She can have anything she wants...almost : )

    If she is worth 1.3 billion dollars and she spends 10% of it to become governor it's like a $100,000 earner spending 10 grand. Not outrageous if he or she can afford it.

    Besides, what's left for her that she can't afford? Trying to become the governor of the state of California is one of the few competitive opportunities left to a billionaire mover and shaker. I just wish she would invest in a competent hair stylist.

  76. A disappointing outcome indeed. Not because of who was elected, but because of the process we are forced to endure here in California.

    Districts are formed where no real change can occur.
    Few, if any new faces come forward to serve the public...instead we are forced to pick from the same professional politicians who have made a living at the public trough.
    When a new face does come forward, the professional political attack machines declare war on them and marginalize both their views and their ability.
    For those of you opposed to development in Sierra Madre, you owe it to yourself to research the development that Brown instituted in will give you reason to be afraid.....very afraid.

  77. Snarkus EloquentusNovember 3, 2010 at 6:55 PM

    We are snark consultants, Tattler snarks are a rare breed of snark. Not your average everyday snarks. We are snarks with a purpose. We snark for those that can't or won't.

  78. The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion ... draws all things else to support and agree with it. And though there be a greater number and weight of instances to be found on the other side, yet these it either neglects and despises ... in order that by this great and pernicious predetermination the authority of its former conclusions may remain inviolate. --Francis Bacon, Novum Organum, 1620

  79. Thanks Gilman, I'm already scared. I'm familiar with the lawsuit Brown brought against Pleasanton. Nothing like an attorney general who will sue a town to force higher density than the town wants or can bear. Imagine what he'll try to do as Gov.

  80. Brown isn't AG anymore, so he doesn't need to chase around after the cities. He's busy cutting the costs of government and attempting to balance the lack of revenue. Because everyone's broke, which won't change anytime soon. Jobs have to come out of a different sector than construction, no need for what we've already got. Housing the homeless in cubicles doesn't generate any revenue, which is what has to be generated to keep the state solvent and get "brownie points" (bad pun, so shoot me) for cutting back state programs that hand out money to folks across the board.

  81. Gilman and 7:40 pm, I've been sick over this since the election results came in.
    I can't believe California's naive, dumb voters voted in the very people and propositions that is equal to FINANCIAL SUICIDE for Calif.
    We are already in a de-facto bail out by the Feds.....bonds bought by the Gov. for mostly development.
    The defeat of Prop. 23 and the Dems success on Prop 25 will absolutely destroy California.

    Gilman is eerily correct in his dire forecast.

    Stick a fork in California- it's finished.
    If I could sell my property, I would move to another State.Gilman and 7:40 pm, I've been sick over this since the election results came in.
    I can't believe California naive, dumb voters voted in the very people and propositions that is equal to FINANCIAL SUICIDE for Calif.
    We are already in a de-facto bail out by the Feds.....bonds bought by the Gov. for mostly development.
    The defeat of Prop. 23 and the Dems success on Prop 25 will absolutely destroy California.

    Gilman is eerily correct in his dire forecast.
    And, just like Sierra Madre, apathetic, lazy, stupid registered voters never bothered to vote.
    Thanks all you a-holes! You just buried the rest of us. And thanks to all you Democrats that either believe in the destruction of America or are so dumb you would vote for a "snake" if it had a D behind it.

    Stick a fork in California- it's finished.
    If I could sell my property, I would move to another State.

  82. John,

    The fact that the 59th Assembly District elected Tim Donnelly almost made me move out of Sierra Madre. Tim Donnelly is a right-wing fanatic who has publicly supported Arizona's delusional, racist, and soon-to-be-deemed-unconstitutional immigration law, and he promised to attempt to duplicate such law in California. I wouldn't expect anything less from a "minuteman" who dotes over his rifle collection and brandishes semi-automatic handguns when he travels to the border to make sure this Country stay safe. Ironic isn't it? If his election makes you proud, then you either know very little about his candidacy (which I hope is true) or your social values/views are surprisingly bleak and xenophobic. When you visit Twin Peaks, I hope you aren't accompanied by anyone who "looks" undocumented. Secondly, the fact that Donnelly won by a wider margin than Anthony Adams in 2008 says nothing about him - it's a midterm election where Democratic turnout is ALWAYS lower and where Republic candidates always win by wider margins in Republican districts. Look at any midterm election in recent history and you'll see that both Dreier and whoever the Republican State Assembly or State Senate Candidate was in the 59th won by a wider margin than the election two-years before. Also, Donnelly was running against a complete unknown who literally didn't campaign - the fact that she still got 37% of the vote (which happens to be the percentage of Democrats in the 59th Assembly District) shows that Donnelly essentially captured the Republican vote and had no cross-over appeal, which makes sense considering his background and the fact that he probably will be a complete outcast in Sacramento.

  83. Everything that doesn't mesh with the Sacramento party line is either racist, homophobic or wants to destroy the earth. Please try and keep that straight. It's how they keep the chumps in line.

  84. The people running the state of California are
    the scum of the earth. And most of them are