gt actual likeness  

Dems vs. Us

Two Democrats
slog it out over
one Senate seat
and voters lose

Face off in Pacifica is the big story in the Tribune. Two incumbent Assembly members are battling over the seat presently occupied by Joe Simitian. They are all “termed out,” but haven’t taken the hint that term limits should provide.

Sally Lieber and Jerry Hill want to move their political careers to the state Senate’s new district 13. According to the Tribune’s Barbara Arietta, these are the two likeliest winners in the June primary. If so, they will be on the November ballot. With the new top-two rules, only Democrats bothered to run in the primary, so area voters will face a baffling decision.

They won’t be able to vote for the Democrat, as usual. They’ll have to pick one Democrat or neither.

Sally-Jerry Raphael

You’d think an interview of over one full page in broadsheet format would make the decision easier, until you read it. There were ten questions and responses from each candidate, no follow-ups. Turns out that these two have few, if any, policy disagreements. To be fair, if it were a Democrat and a Republican, there probably wouldn’t be much difference, but this was ridiculous.

What do they think of the tax measures on the June ballot? They both support Governor Brown’s proposal to raise taxes, supposedly to reduce cuts to important programs. Lieber added that there should be more budget transparency and “initiative reform” because “anyone with $6-$8 million can put any kind of initiative on the ballot... and can get it passed.” Tell that to PG&E.

Skipping to railroading through a massive high-speed rail boondoggle, when I ran against Hill in 2010, I scoffed at the idea. He did not but, now that he’s seen the cost increase from $36 billion to $98 billion, he has second thoughts. (The cost excludes massive overruns that occur if the project ever does.) Despite all the money spent, they both agreed that at least we should get Caltrain electrified. It wasn’t clear why. Maybe they grew up with Lionel trains.

On so-called “single-payer” health care in the state, they both support it. Apparently, they are not aware of the wonderful Obamacare legislation. And since they know what’s best for us, they mention nothing about public input. Do Californians want the state controlling their health care? Who cares.

“If they want to look at the option of congestion pricing in the Financial District, that's fine. I'd be happy to support that. But when they suggest congestion pricing at a city or county border for driving through a city, that kind of flies in the face of good regional cooperation.”
— Assemblyman Hill, opposing a proposed fee by San Francisco
    Board of Supervisors on motorists from the Peninsula.
  [Yes, this was a serious proposal. Remember, San Francisco.]

How can we streamline government, prospective senators? Sally Lieber says eliminate the California Youth Authority, since “the Governor is now on board.” Not exactly leadership, but it’s the rare politician who names a specific cut, so that is admirable. Jerry Hill said that it’s a myth that California has a ‘bloated bureaucracy’ and offered statistics to back up his assertion. He did say there might be ways to make the government more efficient. Ya think?

By the way, California has the lowest bond rating of any state, while the latest CEO survey puts California’s business climate at number 50. And there are only fifty states.

Hill said most of the state’s pensions are not excessive. Lieber seemed to agree. Our understanding is not that pensions are excessive, but that they kick in too soon for state employees who don’t kick in enough (if anything) toward their benefits. Hill cited some UC employees making $500,000 to $600,000 a year in pensions as obscene. But are they actually state employees under the legislature’s control?

Prisons are a problem, most Californians agree. Lieber says her particular interest is “women in prison.” She worries that they get worse treatment than men. Hill is concerned about the recidivism rate of 70%. Neither acknowledged that perhaps criminalising so many activities might contribute to prison overcrowding, and the influence of the prison-workers’ and police unions. Oh, right, it’s bad to criticise unions when you are running for office in this state.

Regarding education, one of the California’s biggest activities, neither candidate suggested an overhaul might be necessary to improve schools, or choice (such as vouchers). Probably nothing to do with the powerful school unions.

“Responsible parents have to give up the privilege to physically discipline their children for the sake of protecting children that aren't being hit once in a blue moon or in a light way, but are really being hit day after day, many times a day”
— Assemblywoman Lieber, in proposing anti-spanking bill in 2007
[Yes, this was actual legislation.]

After studying this lengthy report, this reader sees two candidates dedicated to preserving the status quo. At least if there were pictures, you could make an educated choice of who looks or dresses better. Having met Mr Hill, I can assure you he is a delightful fellow.

So that is the state of the state’s election process in 2012. The solution is for some millionaire to push a ballot measure creating free and open elections in California.


©2012 Gary Tutin

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Pacifica Times article was purged from their web site.