Tuesday, August 2, 2011

It would be funny, if...

File this story under the category of "it would be funny, if it wasn't the people making the laws where I live". Apparently, two Democrats in the California legislature are at odds about releasing financial information about office budgets and spending projections. The complaining assemblyman asserts that his budget was cut as a retaliatory measure for voting against the caucus on the budget bill. The speaker of the assembly counters that he has budgetary problems because he consistently over-spends, rather than the arbitrary adjustments which he doesn't deny making.

Wait, though; it's gets more ridiculous. The assemblyman who got his budget allocation slashed in retaliation for having the audacity to try to represent the people (instead of the political establishment), along with various media organizations, requested the budget information, under a free-information request. This was denied, by the rules branch controlled by the speaker, under the grounds that it was equivalent to notes or legislative memorabilia, which are exempted from the public record. Everything about budgeting is supposed to be public to prevent coercion, but I guess when the prime suspect is running the rules committee, there isn't much you can do within the legislature itself.

You gotta kinda laugh at the humor of the situation, though. According to people in the legislature, coercion and punishment through budget manipulation and other measures is a fairly common practice, and is just expected. In this instance, a Democrat voted against the pressure anyway, and was retaliated against for it. In response to his complaint, the Democrat speaker accuses him of out-of-control spending, which seems like it would be a given (they are Democrats, right?). Then we add a coverup with clearly bogus rule interpretations, a mockery of transparency and accountability, threat of lawsuits, and another Democrat proposing a bill to, if I could paraphrase, "force the speaker to follow the law" (because apparently that's not a given in California). And nobody really cares much, because this is politics as usual in California.

Normally I might add a quip here, but I'm really a kinda a loss. It seems sad that such a prosperous state, with such nice weather and resources, could become such a miserable place to live because of the festering shit-hole that is our state government. Aside from changing who gets to vote, though, I really don't know what anyone could do about it: the same contemptible scum keep getting sent back, and as long as that continues to happen, "politics as usual" will continue to run the state into the ground.

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