Attention all you regional gadflies. Lace up your walking shoes. Straighten that bow tie. Restock your righteous indignation. It’s go time!
Friday, the stars will align to make it easy to attend three separate public hearings – all in the San Gabriel Valley. (OK, you may need a car.) I’m talking meetings on regional issues such as light rail and freeway construction; the state budget gap and funding for schools and universities; and the coup de grace of meaty, we’ve-been-waiting-for-a-decade, issues: redistricting.
If I’ve lost you, I humbly apologize. You’re free to follow a new conspiracy theory now that the president presented his long-form birth certificate. You celebrity lovers are probably woozy from staying up all night watching the latest royal wedding, or staking out Lindsay Lohan’s courtroom – same thing.
Not me. I’m a political junkie. More, I love policy stuff. More importantly, I am a San Gabriel Valley advocate. I don’t see through parochial eyes like many in our Valley who are gadflies only of their local city council. No, this is big picture stuff. I squint west, from the edges of Little Tokyo to the county line in Pomona, to the Puente Hills and back up through San Gabriel Canyon.
Gadflies, saddle up your horses. Here’s what’s happening Friday:
8 a.m. El Monte Aquatics Center Multi-Purpose Room, 11001 Mildred St. The State of Transportation in Los Angeles County. I’d like to know when that HOV lane on the 10 Freeway will be completed, not to mention the new transition to the 605 Freeway. I understand it will cost you to use the HOV lane in a single-occupant vehicle. I can’t wait to see how that works. Habib Balian, CEO of Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension, will talk about how the construction is going and oh yeah, ask him about that maintenance yard issue. John Fasana, the SGV cities’ representative on the Metro board, will talk about the 710 Freeway completion – isn’t it a gazillion-dollar tunnel project now? Tim Spohn will address the Alameda Corridor East projects (grade separations to allow cars and trains to move freely).
1:30 p.m., the state Senate Budget Committee will meet and take testimony on the campus of Cal Poly Pomona. Way cool. I can’t remember a committee from Sacramento meeting – for real – no dogs and no ponies – to discuss how to balance the state budget. This is the most important issue in Sacramento today and they’re coming here to our Valley to talk about it. Here’s a golden chance to tell them how to run the Golden State. The two Republicans who’ll attend, Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar and Sen. Bill Emmerson, R-Hemet, could add significance, since the governor needs two GOP lawmakers from each body to approve his budget and tax extensions. How will you recognize the two Republicans? They are the ones with the bull’s-eyes on their backs. Seriously, the CSUs will be there to argue against yet another $500 million cut, which is what will happen in a “cuts-only budget.” The CSUs already are getting whacked by $500 million, part of the $11 billion in cuts already approved by the Legislature to bring down a $26 billion deficit. Brown and the Democrats want to make up the rest with an extension of tax hikes plus cuts in pensions for state employees. If not, the CSUs will go down to 1999-level funding and must absorb a hit of 35 percent of its state funding.
6 p.m., California Citizens Redistricting Commission public input hearing, San Gabriel Mission Playhouse, 320 Mission Drive, San Gabriel. Gadflies, you’ve hit the Mother Lode! These guys are asking you where to draw the lines for Assembly, Senate and congressional districts! You can tell them for starters that we want districts with communities intact, not hacked into poodle or leopard shapes. We will give them the 59th Assembly District, which lumps Monrovia and many San Gabriel Valley communities in with Twin Peaks, if they’ll give us back something that serves the people, not safe districts that serve the politicians and help them get re-elected.
Let’s all go to these and report back. In the words of Harry Truman, give `em hell!