Legislative rock-heads

July 11, 2010

Not only is California’s legislature an oligarchy, but the oligarchs themselves are dimwits who waste the people’s money. First there was Fiona Ma and her blueberry commission. Now we have State Senator Gloria Romero (D), who has focused with laser-like precision on the most crucial issue facing California today. Is the the state’s debt? California’s high unemployment? The legislature’s inability to produce a balanced budget? The flight of businesses from the once-Golden State? Our crumbling infrastructure and lousy public schools?

Hah! Don’t bother the senator with your niggling concerns, puling citizen! No, Senator Romero has introduced legislation to fight the greatest threat to California and its children, today: the threat posed by our state rock.

Until recently, most people probably didn’t know that there was a state rock — far less that Romero wants to get rid of it.

Senate Bill 624, which has been passed by the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources but still has a long way to go in the Legislature, would strip serpentine of its state-rock title, held since 1965. Why? Because the rock “contains the deadly mineral chrysotile asbestos, a known carcinogen, exposure to which increases the risk of the cancer mesothelioma” and because “California should not designate a rock known to be toxic to the health of its residents as the state’s official rock.”

(…)

So, how concerned should Californians be about their potentially carcinogenic state rock?

Not very, says John Rosenfeld, emeritus professor of geology at UCLA. According to Rosenfeld, SB 624 “is a bunch of bull.” (This newspaper’s editorial page also doesn’t think much of this bid to change California’s state rock, though it notes that some people with mesothelioma have taken up the cause.)

Of course, Rosenfeld said in an interview, people working with asbestos should wear masks and protect themselves from the mineral dust. But he goes on to explain that there are different types of asbestos, some of which are harmful, and others not. The green asbestos, chrysotile, is the least dangerous type, he says — and, fortunately, the most common type of asbestos found in California serpentine.

“Serpentine is a very beautiful rock. Holding the rock is not a problem and it’s nothing you should be concerned about,” he said. “It’s part of the history of California, noticed by the early settlers of this state. It’s a beautiful stone and shouldn’t be removed.”

Just because something isn’t a threat doesn’t mean we should stand by and do nothing about the threat… or something. Just ask the global-warming alarmists.  Silly

Meanwhile, bear in mind that Senator Romero makes around $100,000 per year for stuff like this, and that’s not counting her perks and per diems. I’m sure the voters of Senate District 24 will be glad to know they’re getting their money’s worth, and that Gloria Romero is dealing with those matters of greatest importance to them.

Maybe she should use some of that salary to buy a basic text on Mineralogy, too.

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California’s arrogant legislature

July 11, 2010

I’ve often said in recent years that California isn’t a democracy; it’s instead an oligarchy ruled by a corrupt and distant elite in the legislature who only appear before the people when they need our votes for reelection, but otherwise ignore us and treat us as bothersome children at best.

Next November’s election will see a glaring example of that oligarchy at its arrogant best. On the list of ballot propositions sits number 27, which will eliminate the citizen’s commission created to draw legislative district boundaries and give the power to the legislature.

What’s wrong with that, you ask?

Proposition 27 is a ballot initiative that effectively repeals Proposition 11, which the voters passed in 2008 for the express purpose taking the redistricting power away from the legislature. California has long had a problem with “safe seats,” assembly and state senate seats in which the incumbent is almost guaranteed reelection because the district has been gerrymandered to give the legislator a majority of favorable voters. The result was a group of lawmakers who really had no need to listen to the voters and could rule almost as they wished – in other words, as an oligarchy.

Allowing legislators to draw their own districts is like letting corporations create territories in which they agree not to compete with each other: for customers and voters, the lack of genuine competition and choice can only work to their detriment. Proposition 11 was meant to break this corrupt arrangement, and the citizen’s commission being formed now will get its first chance to draw genuinely competitive districts next year.

Yes, that’s right. The oligarchs behind this measure are trying to gut the commission before its been tried even once. So desperate are they to protect their incumbencies (and six-figure salaries, plus hefty perks) that they are going to try to slip this sham through, hoping the public isn’t paying attention. That’s how little they think of us, even as they claim it’s for the good of the state.

And this measure is not only intended to take back for the legislature the power to draw its own districts, but also gut the intent of Proposition 20, a follow-on measure to add the drawing of congressional districts to the duties of the citizen’s commission. Democrats in the California congressional delegation fought earlier combined redistricting reform attempts tooth and nail. But now that Prop 20 looks like it has a good chance to succeed, Pelosi, Berman, and others have joined with their Sacramento colleagues to protect their own safe seats with Proposition 27 serving as a Trojan Horse.

Make no mistake: the arguments in favor of Proposition 27 are bunk. It isn’t about democracy, saving the state money, or making those who draw the districts “accountable to the voters.” (PDF. That last is one of their sick jokes, I’d guess.) It is nothing more than an attempt by the oligarchy to thwart the will of the people and  preserve their legislative fiefdoms. Don’t let them fool you. Vote no on Proposition 27 and yes on Proposition 20.

And tell the oligarchs to go to Hell.

(via FlashReport)