The very element that gives Jerry Brown the best chance to sell his tax hike plan — if it doesn’t go through, K-12 students will take a brutal beating — should terrify state educators. Kids are being used as political props in a down-and-dirty effort to raise taxes by any means necessary — but with an electorate that’s usually hostile to tax hikes. Should the education establishment want students to be the human sacrifices if voters don’t buy Jerry’s plan? Of course not. Now Tom Torlakson has finally figured out what’s at risk.
I was busy bonding with my new phone last week and never got around to writing about the nauseating story that described Gov. Jerry Brown as still a “rock star” on the national political scene. Maybe that holds with the naifs in the D.C. media, but here in California, Brown is far more accurately seen as a crock star. The gov nurses his image as a unique visionary, but the narrative is pure buncombe. Jerry defines his main role in the same way as all other machine Democrats in Sacramento: insulating public employees from budget pain by any means necessary, starting with preserving the absurd K-12 status quo that bases pay on seniority and irrelevant graduate coursework. Did you ever wonder why his tax hike plan is built entirely around the idea that it is crucial to funding public schools? Because teachers are the only public employees left who still have a good image — deserved or not. Now he’s putting down Molly Munger, even though her rival tax-hike-for-schools initiative is actually willing to acknowledge schools need reforming. Brown? His definition of reform is going back to local control — the same horrible arrangement that midwifed No Child Left Behind.
The lead item overnight on Rough & Tumble is about Gov. Jerry Brown’s vague plans to consolidate regulation of Indian gaming in California. Be wary, here, Californians. The governor’s quirky reputation obscures the fact that he’s a conventional corner-cutting, favor-granting pol most of the time — as he very much displayed in dealing with Indian gaming back in 2008.
This is from what I wrote Sept. 10 of that year:
Jerry Brown can bully and bluster and name-call all he wants to revive the deranged assault on sanity that is the bullet-train project, but there are Senate Democrats who just disregard his propaganda and point to the basics. In a polarized Capitol full of partisan hacks, these people are — I’m going there, people, yes I am — taxpayer heroes. What a comment on modern politics that being honest is all you need to rise to hero status.
Every now and then a story comes along that precisely illustrates what would happen to California taxpayers if — when facing budget problems — two-thirds of the Legislature and the governor could take the easy way out and raise taxes instead of cutting and reforming programs, and ending automatic pay raises and unjustifiable retirement benefits that exist solely as a function of union political power. The Sac Bee story about how traffic tickets cost vastly more then their nominal penalty is a perfect example. What? You think it’s your money, not the government’s? Fool. And you think the government will act fairly when it deals with you and your money? Sap.
When will the media finally figure out that the most powerful groups on the California left — public employees and environmentalists — use poor people as political props to get their way? Deny teachers their raises based on seniority and accumulation of meaningless graduate credits and you’re “punishing the kids” — no matter what the facts are. Get in the way of climate change policies? Then you’re a heartless cad who doesn’t realize that “low-income communities in California are more vulnerable to climate change-related health risks.” But what about the huge likelihood that AB 32′s main effect will be to impoverish poor people? Instead of prompting the rest of the world to follow California’s lead in switching to cleaner but costlier energy, the geniuses in Sacramento are on the brink of punishing the needy — all so rich greens in West L.A. and the Bay Area can feel good about their purity. Great, just great.
Three months ago, Jerry Brown was winning praise from state journos for naming savvy people to the board of the California High-Speed Rail Authority who were much more honest about the numbers and the project in general, especially this guy. This had Sacramento speculating he was setting the stage for the bullet train’s demise, as this new honesty produced a jaw-dropping new $98 billion cost estimate for a statewide system that didn’t even reach San Diego or Sacramento. Now Jerry is mocking the cost estimate as too high and saying the proceeds from cap-and-trade will help pay for the bullet train. Has Jerry been smoking PCP? Is this a first sign that we’re about to witness our governor’s ugly public descent into senescence? One way or the other, this much it’s obvious: It’s time to revive Gov. Moonbeam as a nickname. Unless this is some sort of freaky iPhone 5 Zen triangulation, Jerry appears to have lost his mind.
Lots of cities in America have problems, but is there one anywhere that has the combination of nightmares seen in this California burg? Its schools were declared insolvent in 2003 and the district will be under state oversight until 2023 — at least. Its streets are home to the most chaotic and anarchistic Occupy protests in America. Its unemployment rate was estimated at a staggering 16 percent last year. And now comes news that a judge tired of its police department’s years of misconduct and brutality is contemplating a federal takeover. One would think the guy who was mayor for eight years during this city’s descent into worst-in-the-U.S. status would be a pariah. Nope. Here in California, we call him governor.
The second long piece by Fresno Bee reporter Tim Sheehan on the immense contrast between what we were told a state bullet-train system would be like and how a like effort is playing out in Spain was deeply enjoyable for many reasons, starting with how it confirms that the new media conventional wisdom is growing stronger by the day: This thing is a joke. Now here’s hoping that this leads to the undermining of another conventional wisdom: the idea that Jerry Brown is the smartest, most responsible guy in Sacramento. By emerging as the bullet train’s most ardent advocate and ripping skeptical journalists as “declinists,” Jerry is the opposite: dumb and irresponsible. Yo, gov: These two traits in combination with egomania aren’t exactly an attractive package.
What has happened to the Sacramento pundit class? It’s hard to fathom the casual displays of contempt for the public that its members have periodically put forward in recent years. It’s not as if the public has no right to be upset with how the state is run or no reason to question the competence of those in charge. But don’t tell that to Sac Bee columnist Dan Morain. In his Thursday column, he acknowledged that the $9.95 billion in bond seed money for the state bullet-train project was sold with lies in a 2008 ballot initiative that barely passed. But is this an outrage? Morain doesn’t think so. Bleep you, you ignorant Californians. If the Sacramento establishment manipulates you, so what? It knows what’s best.