The Republicans’ Joy Ride

The Senate Republicans holding the state budget hostage are like the teenage kid who stole his parents car keys and won’t give up the joy ride. No matter how much Daddy Schwarzenegger talks them into coming home, they won’t put the state operations back in the garage. Why not? Because they like the power.
These are Senate Republicans who, well, to use a Rodney Dangerfieldism, “don’t get no respect” during the regular legislative session. Democratic controlled committees determine what bills are considered and generally, what bills get sent out. It is revenge of the Republicans.
How do they get away with it?
There is an arcane law in California (dating back to 1933) that says the state budget must be approved by two-thirds of the Legislature. The Democrats fall two short of that requirement. Only one Republican lawmaker has caved. Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, voted for the budget Wednesday night. But it was still not enough to get an agreement.
I just hung up from the governor’s conference call on the budget and learned that operating for more than a month now without a 2007-08 budget will begin to impede state operations. Clinics that contract with the state Medical system won’t be paid. Delta Dental, which provides care to MediCal patients in the state, won’t be getting its next payment. The Associated Press reported that later in the month, the state may not have the authority to pay contract psychiatrists who evaluate sex offenders as they are released from prison. This prompted a governor’s aide to ask the rhetorical question: “When is the (Republican) holdout no longer worth the impact?”
It’s time we take the keys away from the Republicans and send them to their room.

Close to home

The Violence Policy Center, a D.C.-based think tank, ranked California as No. 1 in drive-by shootings among the 50 states. According to the group’s report, from July through December 2006 there were 549 drive-by shootings reported in the nation and 156 lives taken, 465 injured. California was way out in front with 115 shootings (51 dead and 123 injured). A distant second was Florida, with 57 drive-by shootings and 18 killed, 47 injured. Texas was third, followed by Illinois and Ohio. My first reaction was that I was not shocked, thinking of South LA and Northwest Pasadena. Then, I learned of a drive-by shooting that happened last week just a few streets from where I live in Temple City. Someone drove by and fired four to six shots. One of the bullets hit 17-year-old Deandre Eugene Netter in the chest. He died a short time later. I drive past the memorial — a shrine with candles and the victim’s picture – every day on my way home from work. Every time I hear someone say this thing doesn’t happen in nice neighborhoods, I will think twice. This one happened way too close to home.