I feel like the doctor breaking really bad news to the patient: Your political system is seriously ill and it may not have long to live.
The governor and state legislators for the second time in six years has spent California into such a deep hole filled with red ink that only a series of money transplants against future revenues can keep the state functioning even briefly. They are euthanizing aid to the sick, elderly and hopelessly poor. The only winners are the 27,000 convicts — 15 percent of the total — who are going to be awarded get-out-of-jail free cards.
This farce of a budget debate has gone on all year, for years actually, and now at the last minute 180 cities and many counties, including LA, are threatening at the last minute to sue to keep the tragi-comedy on stage for weeks or months longer.
At 10 a.m. Friday morning, the good mayor of LA will join the whiners we elected to public office with his own pantomime over funds for the Community Redevelopment Agency — City Hall’s second favorite cash cow after the DWP — being taken away to paper over the massive state budget deficit.
The problem, he and the City Council say, is the state Constitution’s requirement that two-thirds of the members of both houses have to agree on a budget — something that gives Republicans, with just a couple of votes more than a third of the members, the leverage to block the Democratic majority from imposing a rash of new taxes.
So they and the Democratic power structure are seeking a Constitutional Convention which they believe they can control to rewrite the budget requirement so they can swiftly get their way on taxes and spending.
There’s no question California’s taxing and spending policies are screwed up. Revenue skyrockets in boom times and they overspend; revenue drops in bust times and they borrow against the next boom.
It is a vicious circle of failure that has tarnished the Golden State and jeopardized the future of all of us.
But what kind of fools would trust the people — Democrat and Republican alike — who for so long have bickered and quarreled and keep on fighting today over old grudges and old ideas while they take money away from the schools and community colleges, let the roads decay and the infrastructure rot.
These people cannot be trusted.
The mayor and City Council can blame the state all they want, they can talk about how their “non-partisanship” avoids these intramural conflicts, how they “balanced” the city budget and approved it unanimously — but their actions speak louder than their words.
What they have done is even worse than the state. They have turned the city treasury into a bank for special interests while gutting basic services from fire protection to park programs, planning and street paving.
Is it any wonder that the 22,000 members of the city coalition of unions representing half the work force jumped at that offer the mayor and Council made them to balance the budget on paper?
Wouldn’t you like to be one of the 2,400 city workers who get to retire as young as 50 with 75 percent of your paycheck and full health care for life, $15,000 in a cash buyout and up to half your annual salary for unused vacation and sick time?
If you could keep your job, avoid wage cuts and furloughs and be guaranteed you would come out ahead financially within years, wouldn’t you jump at the deal?
Of course, city workers quickly ratified this deal and, of course, the Council and mayor will quickly give their final approval to it even though they know it doesn’t solve the problem, that cash will run out soon enough and that all the money they can steal from the DWP, CRA, harbor and airport won’t be enough to cover the bills.
Take it from Dr. Kaye, your political system is seriously ill and it may not have long to live.
You can keep hiding behind your apathy, ignorance and indifference. You can keep obsessing about the fragments of government’s failure to serve you and your own political agendas. You can keep writing letters to the politicians and pleading before them for mercy like peons before their masters.
But nothing will change until you take matters into your own hands, until you march in the streets by the thousands, until you organize and mobilize to take back the reins of power from the politicians and the special interests they serve.
If you don’t do it now when the patient might still be saved, when the time is right, it will be too late.
The damage they are doing to our city, our state, our hopes, our dreams will be so great that we may never recover.
I hope I’m wrong but that’s what I believe, what I’m working so hard to do something about, what so many are working hard to do something about it.
It’s now or never.