Recalling Gray

I am prognosticating an independent documentary titled Recalling Gray that will cover the gubnatorial recall activity in California. The subtitle will be something like, How a right wing nut got elected for only $30 million of taxpayer’s money.

Enough of my Dave Longish wumpusizing, what do you folks in California think about the current recall drama? I know CA has the recall provision in the state constitution, but using it to force a special election this soon after the “real” election seems dumb. Is electing someone new going to magically create tens of billions of dollars of state revenue or cut the same amount of state spending? I really doubt it. I guess anything can happen in politics these days if the opposite party wants it bad enough (Whitewater, Monica, Florida recount, and on and on).

-DavidCPA

I think Gray Davis sucks ass. I voted for him because I thought Bill Simon sucked more ass, and I still think that, but given more choices I won’t vote for Gray again.

Even so, I agree that this isn’t going to do any good. Gray sucks, and the sooner he’s out of office the better, but spending $25 million of the state’s money to do it is counterproductive, IMO.

My beef is with not just Gov. Davis, but the entire Legislature. When the Silicon Valley cash was rolling in, they spent like drunken sailors. Now that they have suffered a HUGE drop in income, they refuse to stop spending.

To lightly paraphrase how one Legislative Analyst report on the budget put it, “Cities largely did not share in the good times of the 1990s.” The short answer for why is that the State controls most of the cash flow, and they simply kept it. Now that times are bad, the Legislature proposes another 1.6 billion in “local contributions” from cities. For most cities, that’s going to be around 10% of their general fund. The cities are already at funding levels from the last recession, so these cuts start at the bone & go deeper. You always hear the political threats about closing fire stations & reducing police coverage, but this is the first time I’ve seen that it is not a threat. There is so little room left in many city budgets that safety personnel is the only thing left to eliminate.

There’s a little-known double whammy going around, too. After 9/11, many cities granted their safety employees huge pension increases.* Generous pensions are fine to do if you have the money. Nobody does anymore. I know one city that granted 3% at 50 recently. When they did it, they were told by the retirement system (Cal PERS) that things were going so well in the stock market that the city’s account was so big they would not need to contribute any extra money for 15 years. Whoohoo! Unfortunately, Cal PERS is required to average all of its calculations over a 3-year period, so they still had pre-bust stock market numbers in there. The next year, the Cal PERS report showed up without any remaining pre-bust numbers. Now, instead of 15 years of funding, the city owes an additional $3.5 million annually, starting next fiscal year. That’s 10% of their general fund. Combined with the “local contribution” of the same amount, they have seen their general fund reduced by 20% in just a few months. They have some very difficult decisions to make.

An upturn in the economy would help things, but it would help more if the Legislature would start eliminating programs that they put in during the boom. Unfortunately, it is far easier to simply take money that is supposed to be going to lower levels of government. Doubly unfortunately, I don’t think a recall campaign against the Governor would really do anything to solve these problems, it would just be a big distraction.

*This takes some explaining, but I think it is interesting. The pensions went up by granting a perq called “3% at 50.” What that means is that your retirement age is lowered to 50, and your retirement pay is then calculated by multiplying your years of service by 3%. That total is how much of your highest pay year you will receive as a pension, capped at 90% (there was a bill this year to raise it to 100%). So, if a firefighter has a good career & joined the force right out of college, he’s probably making somewhere between $80,000 and $120,000 or more, depending on rank. He hits his 30th year of service at age 51, and retires with nearly full pay & benefits. There are tricks to effectively get it over the 90% cap, like taking all of your benefits in cash your last year & paying them yourself (an average of a 14% pay increase). That way, the value of your benefits is added to your base pay for the percentage calculation, giving you more pension money.

I’m a democrat, and voted for Davis because he wasn’t the other guy.

That said, this recall thing is stupid.

That doubly said, who the hell would want to be the governor of California? With our budget problems, any governor that shows up is going to have to do unpopular things.

All the tax cuts in the boom now have to be looked at and probably put back. Also, the federal tax cut hurt, because CA (and other states) just piggy back off the federal amount.

So, in short, the legislature, packed full of a bunch of inexperienced morons (hooray to term limits) didn’t take the long term view during the boom and now are unable to take hard action during the bust.

But the weather’s nice here.

I voted for Davis the first time he ran, then I laughed maniacally and moved out of the state. How’s that power grid lately? :)

Sad when someone like Davis can get reelected because the other guy looks even worse.

California amazed me… To have to pay THAT much in tax for a state that offered so little in services to its residents compared to most other states I’ve lived in.

How the heck did Proposition 13 result in stuff like private school buses for public schools, yet leave the state still stuck with astronomical taxes?

California’s out of hand. They should make everyone, say, with last names R-Z move out.

I do hate to say this, seeing as how I’m such a newcomer to the state, but I’ve been following California politics for a couple of years and now that I’m here, this is all I have to say:

The entire elected government of California, from the very top to the very bottom, sucks ass. The politicians are corrupt from the desk clerk’s assistant in El Puto all the way to the asshat of a man running the state. Could this entire state not be in worse hands? Your police are corrupt, your educational spending is in the shitter, not that it does any good because no one wants to teach because the conditions are horrible, you have an income tax and a sales tax AND a crv tax (which I don’t even know what the fuck that is!). The government ok’s $500m in after-school specials, which have yet to be aired, when most the kids loathe going to school to begin with and won’t watch them?

I’m sorry, but this state has the shoddiest, most corrupt, and useless government from the very top to the very bottom. And I come from Texas. From Texas. We execute retarded prisoners and let the oil giants stomp all over us. What do we get for it? Lower crime and lower gas prices, for one. We might not do things the best way, but we do it our way. California seems to want to only do it the way that will benefit the ones who are creating and enforcing the laws, not the people who are forced to live with them.

Gray Davis is a corrupt idiot. A true moron. I won’t even go into multi-syllabled words because that jackass wouldn’t understand them. Your police forces consist of mostly deputies and sherriff’s… why? I’m sorry, I was under the impression that most of the country had police forces and sherriff’s, but sherriff’s were county enforces, not city. I’ve yet to see a small city (within reason) here that has it’s own police force, instead of relying on LASD. I mean, seriously, if crime is rampant here because of the gangs, is there a reason why a city of 100,000 back in Texas had twice as large a police force as a city of 200,000 does here in the way of sherriff’s deputies?

I don’t mean to be condescending, but this state is seriously fucked. I watched a public access broadcast of a school board meeting the other night for a Van Nuays district (forget which the actual district was) hearing. One of the board members kept asking, flat out, of everyone, if a certain proposition would effect how family’s lives work because of different schools being on different hours, some schools being year-round and others not, etc — All anyone would say was, “Well, you’ll just have to take our word that it won’t,” with everyone in the audience booing and cat-calling. And, again, I come from Texas. Every school district in Texas is a laughing stock and is regularly broadcast, in Prime Time, on the news. Fox and CBS, at one point, were getting such high ratings that they regularly held back regular news in lieu of simply showing the school broadcast. Yet I’ve met quite a few people who live in California now, who grew up in Texas, who think the school district’s here are lame and useless. And not only Texas, but people who grew up anywhere but here.

Sorry, guys. I moved out here because I loved someone, not because of the superior community programs, governmental intervention, etc. Get the entire state running and as helpful as the mental health services are and I’ll say, hey, yeah, great. Until then, this state is a shithole for politicians and rich yuppie idiots who think that watering a desert in the middle of the summer is a good idea.

Again, sorry for how ill-advised and ranty this was, but I’ve lived here for six months and I’ve yet to see why everyone here doesn’t just pack up and leave for New York, Seattle, or Chicago. And don’t get me wrong, I realize most people love where they live and hate the thought of moving, but perhaps sending the entire government packing to one of those cities and starting a newer, better one would be a good idea. At least stop watering a desert. Please stop watering the desert. Please.

Well, this is a tangent, but this is yet another reason why I’m pissed of at George W and his band of oil cronies. They were so sure that the power failure was strictly California’s fault and refused to look into any illegal actions by the Texas power companies, because of course as we all know Texan companies are as pure as the driven snow. Now granted, some of the power failure was California’s fault. But it also turns out that the power companies which Bush refused to admit could do any wrong were actually breaking the law. Truly pathetic and yet another sign to me that the administration is really lacking in the morality department.

Lots of cities contract with LASD to carry out police services. The cost probably works out the same, but the administrative headaches are much fewer. Plus, they can bring in helicopters, SWAT teams, and homicide detectives that most cities can’t afford. Santa Clarita always has used the LASD (about $12 million for the annual contract), and is one of the top ten safest cities over 100,000 people.

But, yeah, many aspects of the state are screwed. Our one-party system probably has a significant role in that.

Bush knew exactly what the Texas power companies were doing. He allowed them to ream California not only because it benefited the people who contributed to his election, but as vengeance on California for being too liberal, for voting for Gore, for having too many Democrats. He may be the most “sectionalist” major American politician since John Calhoun.

I thought that California’s utility plants were the ones causing high prices by keeping certain power plants offline to artificially limit supply. If by Texas power companies, you mean Enron, weren’t they trading in energy futures? Even if Texan companies were up to no good, can the Texas governor do anything about it. I mean, interstate trade and all that?

I find Bush’s cheerleading of the recall a little sick. I don’t think a president should actively take a hand in state politics like that. Campaigning for someone during an election is one thing, but being pro-removal of a sitting Govenor? State’s rights are already all but gone, this is too much.

But Californians, don’t feel bad. When I lived in Louisiana I had a bumper sticker - “I voted for the crook”, so it could be worse. That is when edwards was against Duke.

Chet

That’s absolutely not true that California was keeping plants offline. California doesn’t have enough power plants instate to provide electricity to its populace even with all of them running. It is an electricity consumer. The companies which were accused of keeping plants offline were owned by out of state companies, including some in Texas.

Bush was already President when this was going on, and in fact it is the federal government’s job to regulate interstate trade. In this case there were already laws on the books which many interpreted to say that Bush was required to step in when his utility cronies were using California’s well-publicized demand for electricity as an excuse to crank their prices up.

In short these utility companies were behaving like the hardware stores in south Florida who start charging $100 for a sheet of plywood when a hurricane is headed toward the coast, and Bush declined to take any action to counter this behavior, even though it was within his power to do so.

I thought that California’s utility plants were the ones causing high prices by keeping certain power plants offline to artificially limit supply. If by Texas power companies, you mean Enron, weren’t they trading in energy futures? Even if Texan companies were up to no good, can the Texas governor do anything about it. I mean, interstate trade and all that?[/quote]

Reeko, I’d have to do some research to get the facts 100%. However, the first and most important point was that Bush was the President of the US when this went down, not the governor of Texas. He and his administration turned down requests by the governor of California for assistance with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). At the time the administration claimed that there was nothing untoward (i.e., illegal) going on and that there was no need for FERC to step in. Subsequent investigation (~1 year later) showed that this was in fact incorrect and that there had been illegal activity and that the FERC had not done its job during the crisis. Basically the Bush administration had been wrong in their assesment of the situation and because they kept FERC out of it, the crisis was exacerbated. Whether the administration knew what was really going on and intentionally lied as Ignatius argues or whether this was simply yet another example of the Bush administration molding their own “reality” based on how they believe the world works, I do not know.

Okay, I’m pretty close to sure that the above is all correct. Now, the part I’m less sure on is exactly who all the parties involved in illegal activities were. As I recall Texas companies including Enron were shuttling energy back and forth between Texas and California in an attempt to tie up transmission lines. Some companies were also intentionally shutting down power plants and claiming they needed maintenance when in fact they weren’t (I’m pretty sure at least some of said companies were Texan). As I recall there were some pretty juicy telephone logs of calls from management telling people to shut down plants even though the plant didn’t need maintenance in order to artificially create power shortages.

The list of things that went wrong in California take up miles and miles of shelf space in courts across the country. California’s deregulation scheme forced the incumbent utilities to sell their power plants except for the nuclear facilities. Those power plants were sold to various out of state companies. The scheming that went into driving up power prices in CA cover everything such as:

  • Buying/scheduling transmission line capacity that you did not need
  • Manipulating natural gas supply coming into CA
  • Selling power from plants in CA to other states and the selling it back on the CA grid at higher prices
  • Almost every other conceivable way to screw the system was attempted

-DavidCPA

ydejin,

Good points. Bush put Pat Wood III in charge of FERC. He is the former chairman of the Public Utility Commission of Texas. FERC stonewalled the hell out of California about pricing practices until the evidence became too obvious.

FYI…Interaction between TX and CA in the power market is very small. TX operates as part of ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) and CA is part of the Western Reliability Council. There is very little interaction between the two states. The transmission issues for CA are in the south between AZ and CA and in the north from OR and nothern CA to southern CA.

-DavidCPA

In short these utility companies were behaving like the hardware stores in south Florida who start charging $100 for a sheet of plywood when a hurricane is headed toward the coast, and Bush declined to take any action to counter this behavior, even though it was within his power to do so.

Add in that they could more or less cause the hurricane, too; a huge percentage of power was offline for months at a time, for no apparent reason. Without that power offline, there wouldn’t have been a shortage.

Basically the Bush administration had been wrong in their assesment of the situation and because they kept FERC out of it, the crisis was exacerbated.

Not only that, they insisted the whole thing was the fault of Californian environmental regulations which kept new plants from opening. Which wasn’t true, of course.

On California’s budget: the state wouldn’t be in this crisis if they’d either raised taxes or cut spending in the past. However, note how much tax receipts have fallen recently; this is the mother of all business cycle shifts:

The california budget office has some more stuff. Real per capita total spending, interestingly, has only averaged 1.9% annual (per capita income grew much more than that) since 1990; the late 1990s runup in spending is matched by the early 90s cuts.

Santa Clarita, I’d be willing to bet, is almost predominantly suburban American male and yuppie white… er… caucassion, sorry. LASD doesn’t really have anything to do with it being the safest city, I would think, but then again I might be wrong. I just think that, with all the corruption in the LAPD and LASD, it’s a little ridiculous for everyone to be a sherriff or a deputy. Much easier to abuse power that way.

Lots of cities contract with LASD to carry out police services. The cost probably works out the same, but the administrative headaches are much fewer. Plus, they can bring in helicopters, SWAT teams, and homicide detectives that most cities can’t afford. Santa Clarita always has used the LASD (about $12 million for the annual contract), and is one of the top ten safest cities over 100,000 people.[/quote]

If I recall correctly (from City of Quartz), contracting with the Sheriff’s dept. also allowed areas to incorporate much more quickly and with much less difficulty – leading to the boom in small towns in the LA area. It’s had the side effect that many of these areas have tremendously inadequate policing, however (something which is endemic to much of Southern California, not just LASD areas).

But, what the hell, I don’t live in California anymore, so what do I care?

From this side of the country, the whole recall thing looks really silly. I’m not a partisan Dem. or anything, but right now the rest of the country is looking at California and saying “Christ! Those guys can’t get anything right!”

asjunk

Don’t worry, you’re only surrendering half the nation to Mexico, except now Virginia your home (my birthplace) has an even higher illegal immigration rate than California did in the 1990’s and as I understand it the gangs are now completely out of control in Virginia! What’s the worst that could happen? It could end up exactly like California?

Don’t worry about the third world over there. The third world is coming to you. Stay right where you are because you will soon migrate to Mexico without even leaving home.

I love the sound of automatic weapons fire, drive-by shootings and raging arson fires in the morning! It makes me feel alive.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A49384-2003May28&notFound=true
Remember to the vicious end to keep telling everybody you meet how you’re not a racist. That’s what’s important.

I work for a predominently Republican political consulting firm, something like this would generate a great deal of business for us (except that we’re a midwest firm.) Despite that, I still say that the recall schtick is idiotic. Just like the impeachment of Clinton and the impeachment movement against Bush, it’s a dumb, worthless, politically costly, and taxpayer dollar-wise expensive coup attempt. There was an election, you lost, you get to try again in 4 years, and if you try this stupid crap now, expect it in spades when you get back into office.

We just finished up working on a special election to pass a sale tax increase. It had been defeated less than a year before. One of our messages we sent out, I swear to God, said “Last time we defeated the tax, we had to pay to hold another special election.” Excuse me? We’re trying to get people to vote for our measure this time because last time they didn’t? The company I work for has so lost its way…