As if nobody will notice!
This is getting to be dog bites man news out here, but it’s always good to see the bad get caught.
Three-fifths of the Big Five in California, Assembly Speaker: Karen Bass (Democrat), Senate President pro tempore: Darrell Steinberg (Democrat), and Assembly Minority Leader: Michael Villines (Republican) thought rewarding their staffer’s hard work with merit pay increases would somehow be a good idea, despite the fact that most other state workers are required to take unpaid leave every month.
Bass and Steinberg were the legislative engineers behind the proposed tax increase last December which attempted to disguise tax increases (which would’ve required a 2/3 majority of legislature to vote “aye”) as “fee increases” in order to skirt that requirement.
Mike Villines was one of the GOP turncoats, the leader of the Assembly Republican caucus who in closed-door meetings with other Big 5 members engineered the whole budget passage, including the Propositions for the May 19th ballot.
What happened Wednesday with the story coming out threatened to drive the poll numbers for their centerpiece Proposition 1A down as state workers facing furloughs as well as outraged taxpayers voiced their opinions loudly.
Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association stated;
“They’re claiming that we are facing financial Armageddon at the same time they’re handing out pay increases,”
“How could they be so stupid? Did they think we wouldn’t notice? … I think it will absolutely hurt them at the polls.”
Not 24 hours later, the whole idea was scrapped. The usual rhetoric came from Sacramento about the issue being a “distraction” toward the real goal of “saving the California economy“.
Assembly Speaker Karen Bass said she did not want the raises to be used as “some sort of club against the responsible, urgently needed ballot initiatives Californians will be voting on.”
“In hindsight, this was really becoming a distraction,” Bass said.
Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which is helping to lead the fight against that controversial measure, characterized Bass’ announcement as “tantamount to an apology, but it doesn’t erase the act.”
“It’s hard to unring the bell,” Coupal said of voter reaction.
Larry Gerston, a political science professor at San Jose State University, called the pay flap a “PR fiasco, a disaster, at a time when the state is looking for every nickel it can find.”
To me it looks more like what I said originally, they really don’t think we’ll notice raises given to political staffers for their “good work” as we see our neighbors laid off or furloughed, or face those same things ourselves. And we don’t work hard as well?
Getting back to Mike Villines,
Shawn Steel, a former California Republican Party chairman and one of two representatives to the Republican National Committee, is calling on Assembly GOP leader Mike Villines to resign.
“It’s embarrassing having a Republican supporting one of the biggest tax increases in American history on a state level,” said Steel.
At last, somebody other than Chuck DeVore makes a move in that direction, others may have that I’m not aware of but Assemblyman DeVore called for Villines resignation in mid February;
He essentially told Villines the proposed budget deal is a disaster, and that Villines should resign his leadership position if he intends to support it:
“If not, the entire (Republican) membership will be collateral damage and will deserve the drubbing we get a the polls. I may be wrong, I may also be pissing you off, though I think I know you well enough, to think not as I am trying to give you the advice I’m supposed to give.”
Not 24 hours later, by late Saturday night during the marathon all night Legislative session (called more appropriately “The Hostage Crisis”), DeVore had resigned his position as Chief Republican Whip, saying;
“The St. Valentine`s Day deal to raise taxes on hardworking Californians will neither close the budget deficit nor control spending. I believe leadership thinks they are doing the right thing – but I cannot be a party to this agreement as I believe it will harm California.”
Chuck DeVore is currently running against Barbara Boxer for US Senate in 2010, and is one of the good ones to watch.
Villines is one of the ones to flush, and hopefully he’ll be successfully ousted before he screws up much else.
Bass and Steinberg? They’re like smog in Los Angeles; you can hold your breath until you turn blue but eventually you’re stuck breathing in their stink if you have to live here.