California government as organized looting, chapter 237

Dont-Steal-The-government-hates-competition1April 5, 2013

By Chris Reed

The longer I’ve lived in California, the more governance here seems to resemble organized looting of taxpayers. It’s not just the showy and ridiculous things, like the longtime president of the CalPERS governing board being a top official in the California Federation of Labor, or the public safety workers in a bankrupt town winning automatic raises. It’s stories like this one, about a defeated Assembly member getting a $128,000 part-time state job:

“Michael Allen lost his job in the November election, but he landed pretty softly.

“Allen, defeated by Marc Levine in his reelection bid for a state Assembly seat representing part of Sonoma County and Marin County, was appointed on Thursday to the state Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board.

“The five-member panel, which meets monthly, is the final arbiter in appeals of unemployment and disability claims involving workers and employers.

“The job pays $128,000 a year. That’s a hefty bump from an Assembly member’s base pay of $95,300.”

Assemblyman aids aide and is aided in return

And it’s stories like this one, about a termed-out Assembly member helping his aide win a narrow election to his old job, and then getting a $102,000-a-year job from his aide until his next elected gig starts paying him:

“Voters in northeast Los Angeles picked former state Assemblyman Felipe J. Fuentes III (D-Sylmar) in March to represent them on the City Council, but that job won’t begin until July, seven months after Fuentes’ term in Sacramento ended. He won’t be struggling to make ends meet, however: Fuentes is bridging the gap by working for his former chief of staff and longtime friend, Raul Bocanegra, who was elected in November to fill Fuentes’ seat in the 39th District.

“Assembly records show that Fuentes went on Bocanegra’s payroll Dec. 3. His title as of February 28 was principal assistant in Bocanegra’s district office; his monthly salary of $8,500 was the second-highest among Bocanegra’s aides. In fact, it’s more than the salaries paid to either Bocanegra or his chief of staff.

“The unofficial tally from the March 5 election showed Fuentes with 51% of the vote in Council District 7, almost twice the percentage of runner-up Nicole Chase. The only candidate in the district to raise a significant war chest, Fuentes spent almost nine times as much in the campaign as all his rivals combined.”

That’s from the L.A. Times.

Question the looting, and you’ll get insulted

Here’s another version of governance as looting involving another Democratic Assembly member, Ben Hueso, and the San Diego City Council. Note that Hueso’s aide characterizes questioning the looting as being “obnoxious.”

What’s obnoxious is this status quo, and how government watchers are so used to it that it’s barely considered news any  more.

Here’s more from the Times story on Fuentes:

“Fuentes has tapped public funds at least once before while moving from one public-sector job to another. He was chief of staff for Padilla in the 7th District until Padilla won a seat in the state Senate in 2006. Fuentes then ran for and won a special election to replace Assemblyman Richard Alarcon (D-Panorama City), who had won the seat Padilla vacated on the council. The day after Fuentes won that election, he obtained a $7,500 contract from the [Los Angeles] City Council to brief Alarcon’s council staff. Not that Alarcon was new to the council; he’d represented the 7th District before heading to Sacramento.”

Showing it’s not just Sacramento and San Diego. It’s L.A. It’s all of California government.

Great, just great.

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