March 2, 2004 > Editorial
The Primary Election season is coming to a close and now things get more serious for legislators. Bonds either passed or didn't and we have to deal with the result. Since I am writing on Sunday night and lost my crystal ball years ago, I will wait to comment until our next issue. What I do know is that the gloves will come off for the November election and local politicians who profess to serve the people will scramble for seats they would dearly love to retain or gain. Our local races will heat up and those with political aspirations will have to sell themselves to the people.
Along with scrutiny of voting records, comes the responsibility for our financial situation - good or bad. The leaders who guided us for the last few years can either show how we will weather the economic storm and look forward to a rebound in the future from our safety net or admit that they have failed. Whatever you call a deficit, whether "structural" or any other name you choose to put to it, the result is the same. It means that someone is spending more money than is being received or due.
If the state overspent and even with "takeaways" cannot balance their budget, why reelect the same folks who brought us this mess? If our cities are crying "poverty" due to state actions, they should be able, if they have confidence of the electorate, to ask for temporary funds and be granted a reprieve (I said temporary!). This is similar to taking your credit or good name to a lending institution and asking for a bailout. If a solid plan of recovery exists, loans can be granted. If confidence is lacking, those with the money will say "no." Our state has squandered money and now a new governor asks for time. Whether it is given or not, the State of California from the top of its hierarchy to the bottom is in severe crisis. This November, some will have to be accountable.
At the local level, we have the same issues. Cities and counties are asking for more. Is this good money after bad? Close scrutiny will tell whether we, the people, should be loaning/giving more money to our communities and how to do it. In some cities, the populace is wary and uncertain of how far to trust their public guardians. When polls show a lack of confidence, the groundwork has not been laid and scrambling for gimmicks and taxes that can be passed without approval of the people simply solidifies distrust. How has the staff or our cities been treated? Are there wholesale defections? If so, why? Business and Community meetings will now suddenly be popular for those running for office or those with their hand out. The question to ask is where these people were when they were safely cocooned by a hot market or in their elected seats for another few years? Some of our staff and politicians are able and accessible creating a good rapport with the electorate. How about the leadership of your city or district?