Thursday, October 15, 2015

• 2015 Legislative Summit

One our city leaders couldn't make this event. Being part of the Wildomar Chamber of Commerce, and Waste Management now having an extra seat at their table, I was invited by Clara Vera to join them. 

The overcast morning started with coffee on the veranda. Imagine the looks on Wildomar city manager Gary Nordquist's face when I thrust out my hand to shake his. I'd just done the same thing the night before at the city council meeting. Same went for Mayor Ben Benoit. 

After checking in I found my table. I was expecting to see Cheri Zamora from the Chamber. Whereas Katie Boothby, also of the Chamber,  was expecting to see Bridgette Moore. Plans change, c'est la vie. ☺

During breakfast there were five speakers that each spent about 10 mins or so discussing their specialties.

The speakers were 23rd District Senator Mike Morrell, County Supervisor Kevin Jeffries, State Board of Equalization Diane Harkey, Riverside County District Attorney Michael Hestrin and Executive Director of RCTC Anne Mayer.

Keep in mind that I'm not a partisan, and though I can see reasonable points from some of both side's arguments, I can also see glaring weaknesses. This seemed a lot like I'd picture an RNC breakfast to go. At times, a bit one sided for my liking.

"There are two competing ideologies that I see up in Sacramento.  One is the free market, people like me. The second is Progressivism. Our governor calls himself a progressive, as does our Speaker, and the Senate Pro-Tem. And Progressivism means they believe in the expansion of the bureaucratic system. It means socialism lite. They believe the governments should control all things, plan all things, distribute all things and even own all things."

Sorry, but I had to tune out after that bit of extreme partisanship. He can't actually believe that Dems think the government should "own all things"... can he?

Might as well say the Dems also want to sell your first born into slavery and have prima nocta with all new brides too. (I really hate this kind of over the top hyperbole... no matter how dismal the Dems in Sac-to are)
A look at Supervisor Kevin Jeffries as he speaks about challenges in Riverside County.

"I don't say this lightly, the next two years, the next twenty-four months in the county of Riverside is probably going to be one of its toughest times, at least equal too, the great recession we just encountered. Not because of a lack of revenues but because of increased spending on automatic pilot. The county budget is roughly five billion dollars a year. Our challenge is our expenditures are growing faster than our revenues. They're committed mainly to public safety. Every city across this county is encountering this same challenge. The cost of public safety is growing faster than the revenues."

"Taxes are the only area of the law where the burden of proof is on the tax payer. The burden of proof is totally on our constituents. So we try and help in our office to meet that burden of proof or the requirement."

(apologies to Diane, but there wasn't much from her time behind the microphone that translated well into blog form)

"I want to give you a little rundown as to what's happening with AB 109, which is realignment, and prop 47 which is another part of realignment, and our overcrowded jails. Let me start with the jails. The jail problem has been growing and it's a problem of mismanagement by the county. We have about 3,000 jail beds in riverside county for a population of almost 2.3 million. To give you some perspective, we have a higher population than San Bernardino County but they have double the bed space. What happened with realignment and why Riverside County was hit harder than almost any other county was that we already had overcrowded jails before realignment happened.

We are approaching the early release of 40,000 inmates in Riverside County. When I say "early release" I'm not talking about people that are waiting for their trial, I'm talking about people that have committed, been arrested, been prosecuted, been sentenced to years in jail and released becuase of the federal mandate to ease overcrowding. Let me give you a sense of where we stand right now on how low the capacity is for the population. Currently, when an individual is convicted of a car theft, considered a low level felony and can only be punished in the local jail [not prison]. Currently, the average time for a car theif —typically they get a two year sentence— They're spending about 10 to 14 days  in our jails."

(personally, I'm not a fan of criminals. Much less habitual offenders. We're going to rue the day that we allowed three strikes to get dismantled.)

"Congestion and the lack of transportation choices impact us all, and we can't build our way out of it. Unfortunately, for transportation, when it comes to Sacramento and Washington, we're expending all of our efforts just trying to survive. On a local level we are thriving. We are relying on Measure A Sales Tax. Measure A Sales Tax receipts have returned to the pre recession  levels and that's terrific news, however we're at a point where those Measure A dollars are almost the only dollars we have." 

(I'm just glad that I don't use the freeways much. The one thing you'll be able to count on is that the freeways will always be a bear for the rest of our natural work lifetimes. Better to just live in your car at work, and visit the family on weekends ☺)

There were cards on the table for people to submit questions. After hearing Kevin Jeffrie's remarks about the cost of public safety I scratched out a question. 

Emcee Gene Wunderlich chose mine toward the end of the event, and he directed it to Supervisor Jeffries. 

"while we love our police and fire fighters, when are we going to tell their unions that enough is enough, to both their salary increases and their bloated retirement packages?" What do you tell our cities moving forward?

Supervisor Jeffries
"To be brutally honest, more bad news. Welcome to California. Riverside County budget, the general fund, is now committing, I think, 65% to public safety. It was in the fifties not too many years ago. While the cities are feeling significant pain for the cost of contracts with the county, the county has the same thing. 

For the near future, pretty much all the public safety —pretty much all of the unions— come up next year, 2016, for contract renegotiation[s]. It's not a time I look forward to being on the board of supervisors, but it is a possibility that we have to try and convince our employees that we're in for a very tough time for several years and we need to hold the line and minimize any increases. That is going to be some of the toughest negotiations the board has had since my arrival."

After the summit, I approached the Supervisor and what I got from him is that this is going to take a long time to sort out. I'm guessing the better part of a generation, if not longer. I'm pro cop (and fireman), and I think they deserve good pay and benes. I just don't see how the constant escalation of costs can be paid for without some serious give on their end.

Two last notes 

• I saw Lake Elsinore council member Brian Tisdale and told him I'd been following the saga of how their city picked up the dropped ball (AKA Komen Race for the Cure) that Temecula had tossed to the side. He reminded me that his city doesn't cave to pressure and though the vote had been 3-2, that was more about paying for it, but they all supported having the race in their town. We also touched on how there is a volunteer connection with his wife and Komen, but I knew that was always a non issue.

• Last, I had a chance to shake the hand of DA Mike Hestrin. If only he knew the hours of joy his candidacy gave me during the Spring of 2014 as my character, Rae Anne Resident was constantly endorsing him over at Patch before they changed their comment section and banned "her".

Rae Anne and Cliff owned Patch last year, and I'm sure that Sister Matha misses her most of all.

  •      •       

The doctor must have put my pacemaker in wrong. Every time my husband kisses me, the garage door goes up.  Minnie Pearl

A Wildomar Rap, in parochial school, is when a nun displays such quickness and force with a yard stick, that the epidermis jumps off your knuckles just to avoid contact.

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